Mother and Child Reunion

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This article is about the song. For other uses, see Mother and Child Reunion (disambiguation).
"Mother and Child Reunion"
Single by Paul Simon
from the album Paul Simon
B-side "Paranoia Blues"
Released February 5, 1972
Recorded 1971
Length 3:05
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles chronology
"I Am a Rock"
"Mother and Child Reunion"
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

"Mother and Child Reunion" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the lead single from his second self-titled studio album (1972), released on Columbia Records. It was released as a single on February 5, 1972, reaching No. 1 in South Africa and No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 57 song for 1972. It was one of the earliest songs by a white musician to feature prominent elements of reggae.[citation needed]


The song was recorded at Dynamic Sounds Studios at Torrington Bridge in Kingston, Jamaica, with Jimmy Cliff's backing group. Guitarist Huks ("Hux") Brown and bass guitarist Jackie Jackson were also long-time members of Toots & the Maytals. Cissy Houston sang background vocals on the recording. The song was recorded before writing lyrics, which was unusual for Simon. He had previously hoped to make "Why Don't You Write Me"— a song recorded with Art Garfunkel on Bridge over Troubled Water—to sound like a Jamaican song, but felt it ended up sounding like a "bad imitation." Simon was instructed by the musicians on the differences among reggae, ska, and bluebeat. He felt awkward at first because he was "the only white guy there and I was American." Simon later overdubbed piano and vocals to the track back in New York.[1]

The title has its origin in a chicken-and-egg dish called "Mother and Child Reunion" that Simon saw on a Chinese restaurant's menu.[1][2] The song's lyrics were inspired by a pet dog that was run over and killed. It was the first death Simon personally experienced, and he began to wonder how he would react if the same happened to his wife at the time, Peggy Harper. "Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy and it was like Heaven, I don't know what the connection was," Simon told Rolling Stone in 1972.[1]

James Benninghof wrote that Simon predicted the title event, the "mother and child reunion," while the second verse describes the effect of what happened on "the strange and mournful day," but without making clear what it was.[3] [4]


  • Lead vocal: Paul Simon
  • Drums: Winston Grennan
  • Lead guitar: Hux Brown
  • Organ: Neville Hinds
  • Bass guitar: Jackie Jackson
  • Piano: Larry Knechtel
  • Percussion: Denzil Laing
  • Rhythm guitar: Wallace Wilson
  • Backup singers: Cissy Houston, Von Eva Sims, Renelle Stafford, Deirdre Tuck, Jimmy Christmas

In media[edit]

Alvin and the Chipmunks sang this song in the 1985 animated television special A Chipmunk Reunion when they were on a search for their biological mother.

"Mother and Child Reunion" was featured on The Simpsons 19th season episode "Mona Leaves-a" in which Homer's mother, Mona Simpson, dies, and also on the episode "My Mother the Carjacker" from season 15, during a montage of Mona catching up on Homer's missed childhood.

It was used in the second season episode of The Sopranos, "Do Not Resuscitate".

The song was also used at the end of the fifth episode in Season 1 of HBO's "Enlightened."

The first portion of the song was also covered by Bono during U2's 2015 iNNOCENCE & eXPERIENCE TOUR as a segue into several different songs, most notably into "Where the Streets have No Name" during the US leg of the tour.


Chart (1972) Peak
Australia (Go-Set)[5] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[6] 20
Canada (RPM)[7] 5
Germany (Official German Charts)[8] 23
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 15
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[10] 6
Norway (VG-lista)[11] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[12] 33
South Africa Top 20 (Springbok/Radio Orion)[13] 1
Spanish Singles Chart (PROMUSICAE)[14] 11
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [15] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 4

Other versions[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Jon Landau (July 20, 1972). "Paul Simon: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone (113). Retrieved May 27, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Mother and Child Reunion". Whatever Simon may have been thinking when he crafted the lyrics, his inspiration for the song's title was indeed an unusual one, as he explained in a 1972 Rolling Stone interview: "Know where the words came from on that? You would never have guessed. I was eating in a Chinese restaurant downtown. There was a dish called "Mother and Child Reunion." It's chicken and eggs. And I said, 'Oh, I love that title. I gotta use that one.'" 
  3. ^ Benninghof, James. "The Words and Music of Paul Simon, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p. 53
  4. ^ "Snopes - Mother and Child Reunion". Snopes. 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  6. ^ " – Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  7. ^ "RPM100: Singles" (PDF). RPM. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. 17 (7). April 1, 1972. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  8. ^ " – Paul Simon Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mother and Child Reunion". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  10. ^ " – Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "Topp 20 Single uke 17, 1972 – VG-lista. Offisielle hitlister fra og med 1958" (in Norwegian). VG-lista. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  12. ^ " – Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (S)". Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  14. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  15. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 499. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  16. ^ "Paul Simon – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Paul Simon. Retrieved November 12, 2015.


Further reading[edit]

  • Lacitis, Erik (October 7, 1986). "Dig It: 254 Nonstop Hits! (This Offer is Not Available in Many Stores)," The Seattle Times.

External links[edit]