Mother (Pink Floyd song)

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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)
Songwriter(s) Roger Waters
Producer(s) Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters

"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]


"Mother" is 5:32 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, ceded 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. The verse starts with one measure of 5/8, while most of it 4/4, or "common time".[citation needed] It also features one measure of 6/8.

The chorus, sung by David Gilmour starts out on two measures of 4/4 before going into 6/8 (or "compound duple meter") for most of the chorus, in a narrative response to the first set of lyrics. There is also one measure of 9/8. Then a guitar solo follows over a chord progression in 4/4 time. 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.[citation needed]

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.[7]


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 to 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. One line of the lyrics, "Is it just a waste of time", became "Mother, am I really dying", as the original LP lyrics read. This change ties in with a brief subplot in the film where Pink contracts a fever after caring for a sick rat that died from it.


  • David Gilmour – vocals (chorus), 12-string acoustic and electric guitars, bass
  • Roger Waters – vocals (verse), acoustic guitar


Personnel per Fitch and Mahon.[8]

Cover versions[edit]

For the 1990 The Wall – Live in Berlin concert, vocals by Sinéad O'Connor backed by Rick Danko & Levon Helm, accordion by Garth Hudson, acoustic instruments by The Hooters + Roger Waters and many others.

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.[9]

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".[10]

Amanda Palmer released her cover of the song, orchestrated by Jherek Bischoff, on November 15, 2017. The accompanying video was funded by her Patreon subscribers. She dedicated the song and music video to "the current administration". The single features a cello solo by Zoë Keating. The video was directed by Jordan Rathus.[11]

Further reading[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 Archived 2009-04-13 at the Wayback Machine., Classic Rock magazine.
  6. ^ "Mother by Pink Floyd". Songfacts,com. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "It's the End of the World as Clear Channel Knows It". Slate. 17 September 2001. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  8. ^ Fitch, Vernon and Mahon, Richard, Comfortably Numb — A History of The Wall 1978–1981, 2006, p.78.
  9. ^ "A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Powers, Ann. "Hearing A Mother's Song After Tragedy". NPR: The Record. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff – Mother". The official website of Amanda Fucking Palmer. Yes it is - Amanda Palmer. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 

External links[edit]