Matilda Mother

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"Matilda Mother"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Published Magdalene Music/Essex Music
Released 5 August 1967
Recorded 21 February 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop
Length 3:08
Label EMI Columbia (UK)
Tower (US)
Writer Syd Barrett
Producer Norman Smith
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn track listing

"Matilda Mother" is a song by British psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, featured on their 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.[1][2] Written by Syd Barrett, it is sung mostly by Richard Wright with Barrett joining in on choruses and singing the whole last verse.

Lyrics and music[edit]

The lyrics quote fragments of fairy tales as read from a book to the singer by his mother ("read(ing) the scribbly black", referring to writing in a book as a child sees it), and in the chorus he implores her to "tell me more".[3] "Matilda Mother" represents a common theme in Barrett's work: his nostalgia for childhood and awareness that it could not be regained.[4]

The song begins with an unusual bass and organ interlude. Roger Waters repeatedly plays the B on the 16th fret of the G-string by varying the lower note from D to F# on the D string. Unlike many older beat and pop songs, the guitar rarely plays chords, and most unusually for Western music, Wright provides an organ solo in the F# Phrygian dominant scale with a natural sixth instead of its typical flatted counterpart. The song ends with a simple E mixolydian-based waltz with wordless vocal harmonies of Wright and Barrett.[citation needed]

Barrett originally wrote the song around verses from Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales,[5] in which a series of naughty children, including Matilda, receive their (often gruesome) comeuppance. He was forced to rewrite[6] and re-record the track when Belloc's estate unexpectedly denied permission to use these lyrics.[7]

Later release[edit]

On the Masters of Rock compilation album, the song was misspelled "Mathilda Mother".


Alternative versions[edit]

A previously unreleased alternative version was released in a 40th anniversary reissue of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn; parts of this version's lyrics are also from Belloc's Cautionary Tales, i.e. Jim and Henry King, whereas the chorus is the same as in the standard version.

A different, stereo remix of the same alternate version was also released on the Barrett compilation, An Introduction to Syd Barrett in 2010.


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ Reisch, George A. Pink Floyd and Philosophy: Careful With that Axiom, Eugene!. Chicago: Open Court, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8126-9636-3, p. 234.
  4. ^ Palacios, Julian. Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe. London: Plexus, 2010, ISBN 978-0-85965-431-9, p. 236
  5. ^ Chapman, Rob (2010). "Distorted View – See Through Baby Blue". Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (Paperback ed.). London: Faber. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-571-23855-2. 
  6. ^ Chapman, Rob (2010). "Distorted View – See Through Baby Blue". Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (Paperback ed.). London: Faber. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-571-23855-2. 
  7. ^ "Syd's Fractured Fairy Tales". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 

External links[edit]