Mother Earth (Memphis Slim song)

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"Mother Earth"
Single by Memphis Slim and the House Rockers
B-side "Really Got the Blues"
Released January 1951 (1951-01)
Format 10" 78 rpm record
Recorded 1950
Genre Blues
Length 2:42
Label Premium PR 867
Writer(s) Peter Chatman aka Memphis Slim

"Mother Earth" is a blues song recorded by Memphis Slim in 1951. A slow twelve-bar blues, it is one of Slim's best-known songs and reached number seven in the Billboard R&B chart in 1951.[1]

"Mother Earth" features an unusual descending chromatic figure and an often-quoted chorus:[2]

Don't care how great you are, don't care what you're worth
When it all ends up you got to, go back to mother earth

Although an early review called it a "Blues moralizer, with group harmonizing in back of Slim's chanting, [having] a haunting effect, but [it] is on the tedious side",[3] it has been described as "an uncommonly wise down-tempo blues"[4] and "one of the finest down-tempo blues songs ever recorded".[5] Memphis Slim recorded several studio and live versions of the song during his career.

The 1960s San Francisco band Mother Earth, which featured the vocals of Tracy Nelson, took their name from the song. They showcased the song on their 1968 album Living with the Animals.

Eric Burdon & War included the song as part of the "Blues for Memphis Slim" medley for their 1970 debut album Eric Burdon Declares "War". In 1995, an edited version retitled "Mother Earth", was released on The Best of Eric Burdon and War. Two days before his death, Jimi Hendrix joined the band as an accompanist for the song at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, making "Mother Earth" one of his last public performances.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 286. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  2. ^ One commentator noted that "'Mother Earth' by Memphis Slim was a basis for 'Gotta Serve Somebody'", a song Bob Dylan recorded for his Slow Train Coming album. Heine, Steven (2009). Bargainin' for Salvation: Bob Dylan, a Zen Master?. Continuum. p. 52. ISBN 978-0826429506. 
  3. ^ "Rhythm & Blues Record Reviews — Memphis Slim — "Mother Earth"". The Billboard 63 (18): 85. May 5, 1951. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  4. ^ Dahl, Bill (1996). All Music Guide to the Blues — Memphis Slim. Miller Freeman Books. p. 191. ISBN 0-87930-424-3. 
  5. ^ Bearden, William (2006). Memphis Blues: Birthplace of a Music Tradition. Arcadia Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-0738542379. 
  6. ^ Cross, Charles (2005). Room Full of Mirrors. Hyperion. p. 329. ISBN 0786888415.