Mother (Pink Floyd song)

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"Mother"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Wall
Published Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd
Released 30 November 1979 (UK)
8 December 1979 (US)
Recorded April–November 1979
Genre Progressive folk, progressive rock
Length 5:32
Label Harvest (UK)
Columbia (US)
Writer Roger Waters
Producer Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters
The Wall track listing

"Mother" is a song by Pink Floyd.[1] It appears on The Wall album, released in 1979.[2] This song was one of several to be considered for the band's "best of" album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.[3]

Composition[edit]

"Mother" is 5:35 in length. The majority of the song is in G Major, though the chorus is predominantly a plagal cadence in C Major. The song is notable for its varied use of time signatures, such as 5/8 and 9/8.[4] Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason found these time-signature changes difficult to learn, and, with the band recording on a very tight schedule, conceded the drumming duties to session drummer Jeff Porcaro.[5]

The song begins quietly with solo voice and a single acoustic guitar, and gradually expands its instrumentation to include, by the song's end, reed organ, piano, drums, electric bass, and electric guitar. The song has a minimal introduction, consisting only of a sharp inhalation and rapid exhalation before the first verses are sung by Roger Waters. With exceptions (as noted above), the majority of the verses are in 4/4, or "common time".

David Gilmour sings a chorus in 12/8 (or "compound quadruple meter"), in a narrative response to the first set of lyrics. Then a guitar solo follows. Waters sings another verse, which is once more followed by Gilmour's chorus (with different lyrics). Finally, the song concludes with an arrangement stripped back down to one acoustic guitar and Waters's voice, and a ritardando in which Waters sings, "Mother did it need to be so high?", a reference to the metaphorical wall constructed by the character Pink. The song ends on the subdominant, C Major, which may create an "unfinished" or "dissatisfying" feeling.

Waters explained to Mojo magazine that the song is about, "The idea that we can be controlled by our parents' views on things like sex. The single mother of boys, particularly, can make sex harder than it needs to be."[6]

Following 9/11, this song was one of many (including another Pink Floyd song, "Run Like Hell") to be included in the Clear Channel memorandum of songs with "questionable lyrics" which were generally not aired by Clear Channel radio stations.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

The Wall tells the story of Pink, an embittered and alienated rock star. As told through the song "Mother", part of Pink's sense of alienation comes from being raised by an overprotective single mother, who lost her husband, Pink's father, in World War II. The song narrates a conversation by Pink (voiced by Waters) and his mother (voiced by Gilmour). The listener learns of the overprotectiveness of Pink's mother, who is helping Pink build his wall to try protect him from the outside world, evidenced by the line "Of course Momma's gonna help build the wall," spoken by Pink's mother. She insists that Pink stay by her side even after he grows up, and cannot stand it when Pink eventually grows older and falls in love.

Film version[edit]

For the film, the song was re-recorded completely with the exception of David Gilmour's guitar solo. The lyrics were rewritten by Waters and changed into a more narrative-oriented style to work as film music (example: "Is it just a waste of time?" became "Am I really dying?"). It is interesting to note that in this version, the guitar progression on the second verse is the same one from Roger Waters' song "5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)" from his debut solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking.

Personnel[edit]

with:

Cover versions[edit]

In 2003, A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd, a tribute album of Pink Floyd covers was released; it included a version of "Mother" by Quetzal called by AllMusic a "heart-ripping country rendition", and featuring a cajón, an accordion, and a violin solo.[8]

Natalie Maines covered "Mother" for her 2013 album, also titled Mother. According to critic Ann Powers, Maines' "interpretation of Roger Waters's lyrics helps the original becomes something new — something bigger"; Powers notes:[9]

"In Pink Floyd's version, Roger Waters sings the part of the boy revealing his night terrors; David Gilmour, singing as the mother, is prissy and cruel, restricting his reach. Maines leaves the song's vaguely misogynist lyrics intact, but her plaintive, tender reading, intertwining with Harper's equally gentle guitar lines, reveals the terror and helpless yearning that feeds the effort to control. Freed of the male voice that made "Mother" into a diatribe against femininity, Maines's interpretation becomes a tender acknowledgment of how fear can entrap all of us, even when we want to do nothing but love."

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  3. ^ Guthrie, James. "James Guthrie: Audio: Building A Compilation Album". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Pink Floyd: The Wall (1980 Pink Floyd Music Publishers Ltd., London, England, ISBN 0-7119-1031-6 [USA ISBN 0-8256-1076-1])
  5. ^ Vintage Pink Floyd Interview, Classic Rock magazine.
  6. ^ "Mother by Pink Floyd". Songfacts,com. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978–1981, 2006, p.78.
  8. ^ "A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Powers, Ann. "Hearing A Mother's Song After Tragedy". NPR: The Record. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 

External links[edit]