Monday, November 30, 2015

Music Love: "Mother" by Pink Floyd

I’ve never really considered myself a Pink Floyd fan per se. At the risk of setting myself up to get flamed, I’ll admit that I tend to think of Pink Floyd as a “druggie band.” Since I’m not exactly into drugs myself, I’ve always felt a bit dismissive of them. I don’t own any of their albums. In fact, I own just one of their songs (the beautiful and haunting “Wish You Were Here”). On the other hand, if I come across them on the radio, I’m unlikely to change the channel.

They seem to get played on the radio a lot here. And since I’ve been hearing them on the radio, I started looking them up on YouTube and, consequently, listening to them at home. This reminded me how much I love the song “Mother.”

Two things really make this song for me: Roger Waters’s vocals (god, I love his voice) and the lyrics. On the surface, it seems like a sweet song: a man turns to his mother, seeking comfort in the face of his fears. His mother’s responses, however, push the song into a creepy place. When he asks her,

“Mother, do you think she’s good enough for me?

Mother, do you think she’s dangerous to me?
Mother, will she tear your little boy apart?
Ooo ah, Mother will she break my heart?”

she replies,

“Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mama’s gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through.
Mama’s gonna wait up until you get in.
Mama will always find out where you’ve been.
Mama’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean.”

Um, ick.

Now, I know that this song doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s part of a concept album, one that I maybe listened to in its entirety once 25 years ago. So perhaps there’s a context to it, a nuance, that I don’t get, hearing it independently from the rest of the album, but I don’t know that any context would make it less creepy.

This song makes me uncomfortable, and the fact that I like that it makes me uncomfortable makes me even more uncomfortable. A song that makes me feel something? Yes, please.


Patricia said...

I don't know why the radio stations during high school played certain Pink Floyd songs ad infinitum and it wasn't until my senior year that they saw fit to add "Wish You Were Here" to the rotation. God, I love that song.

The rest though, I can leave. I switch the station when they come on, just like I did growing up. As someone who didn't drink or do drugs in high school I felt like Pink Floyd's The Wall was just a bunch of drunk/high people getting together and deciding that album was the coolest thing since sliced bread and my not liking it was just another way I was uncool. And it was still several years before Almost Famous would tell me that the only true currency in this bankrupt world was what you share with a person when you were uncool.

I do think he's good a good voice though.

balyien said...

Well, one of these days I'll get around to listening to the entirety of The Wall, but I do know that it has some really great songs. I think that maybe Pink Floyd was honestly a good band, but one that appealed to druggies, which turned off some of us who aren't into drugs. The reason I didn't do this post on "Wish You Were Here" is because I don't like the long instrumental portion at the end. If it was just the lyrics plus a short instrumental, it would absolutely be on my list of Top 5 songs.

Patricia said...

Agreed. I just switch the station once they stop with the lyrics. My mix tape with it on was lost when the airline lost my luggage, so I've never had to be impatient and fast forward to the next song.

Hey! Kids today would be totally crap at fast forwarding. There was skill involved. I'm pretty sure they don't care.

balyien said...

That's very true! I never thought of that before. It's a skill that I never quite mastered. :P