Mama Told Me Not to Come
|"Mama Told Me Not to Come"|
|Song by Eric Burdon and the Animals|
|from the album Eric Is Here|
"Mama Told Me Not to Come", also written as "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)", is a song by American singer-songwriter Randy Newman written for Eric Burdon's first solo album in 1966. Three Dog Night's 1970 cover topped the US pop singles chart. Tom Jones and the Stereophonics' version also hit No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart in 2000.
Newman original and first recordings
Newman says that the song was inspired by his own lighthearted reflection on the Los Angeles music scene of the late 1960s. As with most Newman songs, he assumes a character – in this song the narrator is a sheltered and extraordinarily straight-laced young man, who recounts what is presumably his first "wild" party in the big city, is shocked and appalled by marijuana smoking, whiskey drinking, loud music, and — in the chorus of the song — recalls his "Mama told [him] not to come".
The first recording of "Mama Told Me Not to Come" was cut by Eric Burdon & The Animals. A scheduled single-release of September 1966 was withdrawn, but the song was eventually included on their 1967 album Eric Is Here.
Newman's own turn at his song was released on the 1970 album 12 Songs, and was characterized by Newman's mid-tempo piano accompaniment, as well as Ry Cooder's slide guitar part, both of which give the song the feel of a bluesy Ray Charles-style rhythm and blues number.
Three Dog Night version
|"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"|
|Single by Three Dog Night|
|from the album It Ain't Easy|
|B-side||"Rock & Roll Widow"|
|Format||7-inch 45 RPM|
|Recorded||1969–1970 at American Recording Company|
|Three Dog Night singles chronology|
Three Dog Night's had the same 3/4 by 2/4 time change as Eric Burdon's version and featured Cory Wells singing lead in an almost humorous vocal style, Jimmy Greenspoon playing a Wurlitzer electric piano, and Michael Allsup playing guitar.
Billboard ranked the record as the No. 11 song of 1970. The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on July 14, 1970, the same day that It Ain't Easy was certified gold.
Charts and certifications
Tom Jones and Stereophonics version
|"Mama Told Me Not to Come"|
|Single by Tom Jones and Stereophonics|
|from the album Reload|
|B-side||"Looking Out My Window"|
|Released||March 6, 2000|
|Format||CD single, maxi single|
|Producer(s)||Bird and Bush|
|Tom Jones singles chronology|
|Stereophonics singles chronology|
The recording of the song by Tom Jones and Stereophonics was released as a single in March 2000 and reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 11 in Ireland, and No. 45 in New Zealand. This version was produced by Steve Bush and Marshall Bird (also known as "Bird & Bush"). Singer Kelly Jones shared in the vocals with Jones. The video featured an appearance by Welsh actor Rhys Ifans.
|Germany (Official German Charts)||73|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||77|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||45|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||3|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||51|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||4|
|UK Indie (Official Charts Company)||1|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
sales+streaming figures based on certification alone
P. J. Proby recorded one of the earliest takes on the song in 1967, followed by Three Dog Night's 1970 hit. Also in 1970, American singer/songwriter Odetta covered the song on her album "Odetta Sings". It has also been recorded by a diverse range of artists, including Wilson Pickett, Lou Rawls, The Wolfgang Press, Yo La Tengo, The Slackers, and Paul Frees (as W.C. Fields) accompanied by The Animals. Lazlo Bane. Jazz singer Roseanna Vitro included it in her 2011 collection The Music of Randy Newman. A 1970 cover by The Jackson 5 was released on Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls.
Three Dog Night's version would later appear in Terry Gilliam's 1998 movie adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1972 gonzo novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Due to the song's upbeat, paranoid mood, it was used for the scene of obsessively drug-using protagonists Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo escaping a "District Attorneys convention on narcotics and dangerous drugs". It also appears as the last song in the movie's G-rated trailer, mainly accompanying Duke's wild car ride to have Dr. Gonzo catch a plane in time, a scene where in the R-rated trailer and in the actual film, Viva Las Vegas by Dead Kennedys was used instead.
It was also used in the 1997 films GI Jane (played over a montage of scenes showing Jordan O'Neill (Demi Moore) conditioning herself for the extreme physical demands of SEAL training) and Boogie Nights, in the 2002 film The Sweetest Thing, when Cameron Diaz is walking up the street, and in the 2015 film Joy where it was performed by cast members in a scene set in a music class.
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