Mama Told Me Not to Come

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"Mama Told Me Not to Come"
Song by Eric Burdon and the Animals
from the album Eric Is Here
Released March 1967 (1967-03)
Genre Roots rock
Length 2:15
Label MGM
Songwriter(s) Randy Newman
Producer(s) Tom Wilson
Eric Is Here track listing
"In the Night"
"Mama Told Me Not to Come"
"I Think It's Gonna Rain Today"

"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 of the song topped the US pop singles chart. Tom Jones and the Stereophonics' cover version also hit number four on the UK Singles Chart in 2000.

Newman original and first recordings[edit]

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 "Mama..." 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, and 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 A scheduled single-release of September 1966 was withdrawn,[1] but the song was eventually included on their 1967 album Eric Is Here.

Newman's own version of his song was released on the 1970 album 12 Songs, and was characterized by Newman's midtempo 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[edit]

"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"
Mama Told Me (Not to Come) - Three Dog Night.jpg
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album It Ain't Easy
B-side "Rock & Roll Widow"
Released May 1970 (1970-05)[2]
Format 7-inch 45 RPM
Recorded 1969–1970 at American Recording Company[2]
Genre Rock
Length 3:19 (album)
2:58 (single)
Label Dunhill
Songwriter(s) Randy Newman
Producer(s) Richard Podolor[2]
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"
"Out in the Country"

(February 1970)
"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"
(May 1970)
"Out in the Country"
(August 1970)

Also in 1970, Three Dog Night released a longer, rock 'n roll and funk-inspired version (titled "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)") on It Ain't Easy.

Three Dog Night's version 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,[3] Jimmy Greenspoon playing a Wurlitzer electric piano, and Michael Allsup playing guitar.

Charts and certifications[edit]

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.[15]

This was the very first #1 song played on the July 4, 1970 broadcast of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.

Tom Jones and Stereophonics version[edit]

The recording of the song by Tom Jones and the Stereophonics' reached number four on the U.K. Singles Chart in 2000. This version was produced by Steve Bush and Marshall Bird (AKA "Bird & Bush"). Singer Kelly Jones shared in the vocals with Jones, with the song featuring a somewhat livelier, punchier sound than the Three Dog Night version. The video featured an appearance by Welsh actor Rhys Ifans.[16]

Other versions[edit]

P. J. Proby recorded one of the earliest versions of the song in 1967,[17] 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,[17] Lou Rawls,[17] The Wolfgang Press,[17] 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.

Tea Leaf Green[18] and Widespread Panic[19] have performed this song live. In 1971, the comic singer Patrick Topaloff released a French version named Maman, viens me chercher.

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

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.

The Three Dog Night version 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.

Also used in the movie The Sweetest Thing (2002), when Cameron Diaz is walking up the street, and in Joy (2015) it's performed by cast members in a scene set in a music class .


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  2. ^ a b c Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975 (CD liner). Three Dog Night. United States: MCA Records. 1993. pp. 27, 30, 31. MCAD2-10956. 
  3. ^ Leaf, David (1993). Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975 (CD liner). Three Dog Night. United States: MCA Records. p. 18. MCAD2-10956. 
  4. ^ a b "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  5. ^ "100 Singles" (PHP). RPM. 13 (23). July 25, 1970. Retrieved April 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ " – Three Dog Night Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mama Told Me Not to Come". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  8. ^ " – Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  9. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "Three Dog Night Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 
  13. ^ "Top 100 1970 - UK Music Charts". Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  15. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Archived from the original (PHP) on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2013-04-05.  Type in "Three Dog Night" under Artist to see search results.
  16. ^ "stereophonics graffiti on the train". The Snipe News. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  17. ^ a b c d "The Originals © by Arnold Rypens". Archived from the original on 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  18. ^ "MP3 File". Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  19. ^ "". 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2016-10-03.