Ahead of this weekend’s Mother’s Day, The Courier Music writers reflect on their mothers’ musical influence on their own tastes.
“The music I listen to is completely influenced by my Mum. At eleven months old I crawled around a Glastonbury field, unaware that my parents were encouraging me to enter a world of live music.
I remember my Mum playing Arctic Monkeys on a long car journey when I was nine and me and my sister singing “all the weekend rock stars are in the toilets practicing their lines” louder than any other line in ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ because we thought singing whilst on the loo was hilarious (it would be years before I realised the lyrical double meaning of that song).
Throughout my life I was surrounded by Radio 1 – I remember a friend commenting that the radio was always on in my house. To me the sound of the kitchen radio was a comforting constant that felt as much a part of the home my Mum had made as I imagined coming home to the smell of fresh baked bread was in films.
My mum made me realise the excitement live music could bring. Running to the local record store to be the first to get Kasabian tickets and dreaming of the day me and my sister would be old enough to get into 16+ venues and see the bands that defined our childhood. Stereophonics was always played as we crossed the border into Wales on our summer camping holidays and so many of my family memories are laced with the music my Mum loved.
My Mum influenced my music in every way and to this day we share trips to gigs and festivals. My Mum has made music a defining feature of our family and I am always grateful she shared her love with us and made me and my sister the music fans we are today.”
“My mother is a singing teacher. As a child, if she ran workshops on weekends I would go along with her for the day. I’d sit there amongst what was usually a room of middle-aged women wielding a page of song lyrics I couldn’t read and sing my tiny heart out. Thank you, mum, for encouraging me to sing like nobody was watching. I’m all the more confident for it.
My mother is a musician. From xylophones to bongos, instruments have always strewn across the carpet for my siblings and I to pick up, play with, practice and perfect. Thanks for giving me those opportunities mum, and tolerating all the bad music that came before the good.
My mother is a folksie type. Growing up I was exposed to so many soothing sounds that now remind me of evenings in cottages, round fires, and walks through expansive desolate countryside with our extended family belting Joni Mitchell in the rain. I now too, am a folksie type. I live and breathe Laura Marling, Karine Polwart and The Wailin’ Jenny’s. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, mum.
My mother helps people who didn’t know how to use their voice speak through song. I’ve been told as much by them myself. She is one of the people most appreciative of music and how it actually acts in the world. How it changes, progresses and reflects on people’s lived experiences and society as a whole. If even a fraction of her appreciation for music has filtered down into me, I’ll count myself very lucky. Dare I say it, I think it has.
Thanks, Kate. For all this, and then some.”
– Carys Thomas
“So, so what?, I am a rock star, I got my rock moves, And I don’t waaaaant you tonight!
These may not be the words many people associate with their mothers. P!nk’s ‘So What?’ is not a typical motherly love song, but it does hold a special place in my heart. It’s not an emotional lullaby, or a cherished childhood memory of being sang to by your mum as you cry over a life-defining moment. Nope. The moment I hear that “na na na na na na” opening riff, I see a vision of my mum singing it at karaoke on holiday (I use the word ‘singing’ very loosely).
From this vision perhaps you’d expect my mum to be an edgy, English version of P!nk – short bleach blonde hair, rocker style, a ‘take-no-shit’ attitude. Far from it. The blonde hair is somewhat right, but the similarities end there. Yet when she sings this song on karaoke – at ANY opportunity – you forget the differences and can truly appreciate the song.
It’s a perfect blend of uncaring attitude, feisty lyrics and a head bopping beat. I can’t say I have much of an opinion on P!nk either way, until this song is mentioned. There’s something about cringing and wanting to hide under a table every time your mum confidently takes the microphone and sings every note in exactly the wrong tune to really leave an impression.
Whenever ‘So What?’ is played at a club (mostly at Powerhouse lets be honest) I dance extra wildly and sing extra loudly, just to pay homage to my mum. Who, herself, cannot sing or dance but gives it a bloody good go anyway because this song is her absolute jam. And so what if you think I look like a fool? I got my mum’s rock moves, and I don’t need you.”
“My childhood memory of music is intrinsically linked to my Mam and so, like her, it’s pretty eclectic.
I have a clear memory of walking into the kitchen of our flat to the sight of my Mam dancing to music coming from the silver boom box on the kitchen bench. Six-year-old me asks who it is; she stops, turns and hunkers down to my level. She very seriously and earnestly instructs me that the music is Aerosmith and that singer Steve Tyler is God. Now, as an adult, I’m fairly sure that my Mum’s worshipping of Steve Tyler was more about Tyler’s penchant for skin-tight leggings.
When managing a café, she frequently played Jools Holland, Sugar and Barry White (I told you this was going to be eclectic) and so now when I hear Barry White I feel a surge of pure joy and a strong desire for coffee. As an adult Sugar is one of my favourite bands and Bob Mould’s unique voice has accompanied me through break-ups and joy-filled summers. Jools Holland led to me finding Squeeze, a band that encompassed my taste in music entirely – songs about the minutiae of life that you can dance to.
When we weren’t debating the deification of rock stars or dancing to The Walrus of Love we were hanging around tattoo studios (she’s got cool friends) which meant Rancid, early Green Day and The Offspring.
She’s a huge country music fan – introducing me to the music of her idol Dolly Parton and also lesser known country musicians such as Laura Cantrell whose song ‘The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter’ never fails to make me ‘country sad’.
Thanks for the eclectic taste Mam. I’m sorry I made you buy me that Steps CD when I was 10.”
“Growing up, I’ve not always seen eye-to-eye with my mum about music. In my teenage years, car journeys were characterised by a constant flicking between Radio 1 and Radio 2, as we both battled to listen to our own music as we drove along. There’s also been times when the music I’ve put on has been met by a jokey “what’s this shite?”, and I’ve thought the same about hers.
Back then, I didn’t appreciate just how much my mum’s music tastes have influenced mine. Our music tastes aren’t identical, but there are certain songs that I’ve now got a special appreciation for.
Take ‘Dakota’ by Stereophonics, for example. If it wasn’t for my mum, I’d probably just see it as a pretty catchy early-noughties anthem. But my mum loves the song so much that whenever it comes on the radio, she immediately tells me to turn it up and sings along word for word. Now, as soon as I hear the intro, all I can think of is my mum, driving along, singing at the top of her voice.
It’s worked both ways too. When I took Ben Howard’s I Forget Where We Were album on a family holiday a few years back, I just thought it was a good CD. The eponymous track ‘I Forget Where We Were’ was probably one of my favourites from the album, but I didn’t think it was incredible. As the holiday went on, my mum grew to love the song more and more. Whenever either of us listen to the song now, we’re both instantly transported back to driving around Scotland in the early summer. Suddenly, the song is loaded with nostalgia and happy memories for both of us.
When a song is someone you love’s favourite, how can you not love it too?”
“Dear Mam, thank you for never holding me back. I am forever in your debt for letting me watch MTV and browse the internet until my eyes bled, never pulling me away when obscenities and experimental musical styles were presented in front of me.
Further, bless you for singing Michael Jackson, Motown and other ditties to me as a child, imbuing me with a wild, ranging music taste spread across many genres and styles. Your mantras of respect and judgment that I was raised with still let me explore the vast musical landscape with constant curiosity and no cause for concern, shaping my character and providing me with the soundtrack to my life that I couldn’t live without.
Thank you for singing with me in the car to your favourite CD’s, making music an important part of my life from the offset. I love you for never questioning my taste when I asked for Justin Timberlake’s Justified or Kanye’s Late Registration. You relished in it, learning the words to ‘Hey Mama’ and countless others, getting involved in the car all the way through my childhood. Those physical case and the players in our changing car, the two of us enjoying the power of music will always be moments and memories of serene happiness for me, a comforting place I’ll never lose, even when I’m old and frail.
And even though sometimes you get the words wrong to the radio, I’ll never ask you to stop singing. In my rough spots and dark patches when I was lost and you didn’t know, having you there in the car brimming with your radiant light, lavishing in the power of music always brought me up and out of the darkness. The best mam in the world. Unbreakable, Unmistakable. Hey Mama.”
– Jordan Oloman