Mothers and their influence in music and other things.
By ‘Rebel’ Rod Ames
Today is Mother’s Day and, of course, it would be impolite to not start this article out without wishing all Mother’s out there a very heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day. I’m blessed to still have my Mother, and in fact, she lives about three miles away from me. Sitting here in the early morning solitude got me to thinking a bit.
Firstly, without Mothers, none of us would exist.
Secondly, how have Mothers influenced music?
The first thing I did was a search for the word ‘Mother’ on Amazon.com in the music category. Right off the bat, the search resulted in 1080 records with the word ‘Mother’ in the name of the band or the title of the record. Some I was familiar with, others were obscure to say the least.
Bands or titles such as; Mother Love Bone, The Mother Hips, Mother Mother, Acid Mothers Temple, Mother’s Finest, Pink Floyd’s – “Atom Heart Mother”, Johnny Cash’s – “My Mother’s Hymn Book”, The Mother Funk Conspiracy, Ramsey Lewis’s record about the ultimate Mother – “Mother Nature’s Son” (I guess that one is actually about her Son – but he could not have happened without her), The Circus Devils – Mother Skinny, Mozart for Mothers-to-be, “Rollin’ With tha Mutha” by The Revolution Mothers, “Going On Safari” by Mother Goose Time, Blue Mother Tupelo’s “Heaven and Earth”, The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s – “Mother’s Milk”, “Broke Not Broken” by The Mother Truckers, and finally (for now anyway), “Songs for Mother’s Day” by The Blue Rubatos.
Friends, that was just the first page or two of about 1080 MP3’s available on Amazon.com. I just barely scratched the surface but you get the picture. There is no question. Mothers have had a profound influence on us in every way. No one has been able to escape that influence. And as we will see; why would we want too?
Mother’s have had an incredibly large amount of influence on their kids no matter if they are recording artists, or attorneys, factory workers, or bill collectors. We are all the product of our Mothers. We all have that in common. Some of us may not know who they are, but there is undoubtedly a female in just about all of our lives we have called Mother from time to time. But even if we never knew our bio-moms we were left with their genes whether we like it or not.
I have a great relationship with my Mother, Peggy, today, but I have had close friend’s Mothers when growing up I would have referred to at one time or the other, as my-other-Mother. Vandell Brown, comes to mind in my late teens and early adulthood. Betty Lobb in my pre-pubescent childhood, and today, it would have to be my dear other-mother, Nancy White.
All of these women have had a great deal of influence in my life. Personally, I believe if they created one positive memory in my life, they were an influence.
Betty Lobb used to make popcicles out of liquid jell-o by putting the jell-o in molds and placing it in the freezer. I know, it sounds simple but fifty years later I will not eat a pre-packaged popcicle so you tell she didn’t influence me.
Vandell Brown taught me there was another side to loving Elvis Presley I didn’t know existed until I met her. She would have put those screaming girls at a Beatles concert in the 60’s to shame.
One day my friend Tommy (Vandell’s oldest son, and one of my best friends back then) were walking through her den while she was watching “The King” on TV. As Tommy walked by, he it the off button on the TV (for those under 30, TV’s used to have a button on the front you had to get up and either pull to turn on or push in to turn off) with the back of his hand. To put it mildly we had to run for our lives. I had never seen a Mother fly out of chair before, but that is precisely what happened. “GODDAMMIT TOMMY!” was all we heard as we ran out the door, to scared to look back.
Nancy White, even though I have only known her these last ten years or so, has taught me about faith, with here very strong and reverent alliance with her God. She trusts him deeply and it has gotten her through many trials and tribulations over the years. Her love and obedience to the God of her understanding is her salvation, and she has taught me much about faith, and how important it can be in one’s life. I suppose we all must have a little faith in something, as John Hiatt said.
Cindy is the Mother of my youngest Son, and has also taught me much about faith, not only in God but in others as well. The glue that binds us is devotion and trust. It was an ingredient that had always been missing in previous relationships, but is absolutely what has held us together for nearly 18 years. It has helped our marriage to survive some seemingly unsolvable problems and survive devastation. None of this would have been possible without her in my life. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, as sappy as it may sound, she is my absolute rock. Whether she believes it or not, I know, it’s true.
Finally, as I mentioned before, Peggy Ames, my Mom, had the greatest influence on my life personally. There is nothing stronger than the love of a Mother. I put her through pure hell from the time I was about 15 or 16 until age 39 when I put down the drugs and alcohol for once and for all.
All of those years when I was out doing God-only-knows what, she would be sitting up awake in the night, waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting to hear the words any parent, but especially a Mother, fears the most, that something dreadful has happened to her baby. No matter how old we are, we are always their babies. Amazing.
I know what that is today. I have three sons myself. The oldest thirty, the youngest, six-teen. They are my babies and always will be. But not to the degree they are to their mothers. The lived inside of them for the first nine months of their lives. They formed a bond no one should be able to break. To lose that bond is devastating.
These are the things Peg has taught me. That there is no greater love than the love of a Mother. She never gave up on me, even when I had given up on myself.
Today, I’m proud to say, I’m nearly eight-teen years clean and sober. To give you an idea of how deep the wounds are that I inflicted on this sweet woman; almost three years ago my Father, and her husband of nearly 60 years had open heart surgery. Mom and I had many hours to sit and talk. She told me at about year 13 or so of my sobriety, she finally started to relax a little. It took her 13 years to say, “maybe he’s got it (sobriety) this time”! This was the first time I truly understood what I had put her through but also it was the first time I began to understand just how deep a Mother’s love runs.
I’m sure all of the artists who named there bands or albums or songs for Mother’s understand what I’m talking about.
Frank Zappa was the Father of The Mothers of Invention. Woody Guthrie created “Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child”. Tracy Nelson gave us “Mother Earth”. Townes Van Zandt gave birth to “Our Mother the Mountain”. And so it goes.
Thanks Moms everywhere. We love you.
‘Rebel’ Rod says go hug your Mother. Peace