Matilda Mother

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"Matilda Mother"
Song by Pink Floyd
from the album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
PublishedMagdalene Music/Essex Music
Released5 August 1967
Recorded21 February 1967
LabelEMI Columbia (UK)
Tower (US)
Songwriter(s)Syd Barrett
Producer(s)Norman Smith

"Matilda Mother" is a song by British 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. It was the first song recorded for the album.

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 alternative version was also released on the Barrett compilation, An Introduction to Syd Barrett in 2010[8]. Extended version of this 2010 mix appeared in the Pink Floyd compilation box set The Early Years 1965–1972.


  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.
  8. ^ "An Introduction to Syd Barrett - Syd Barrett | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 July 2017.

External links[edit]