Home is where the speakers are—or, something like that. In reality, so many of our first music memories, tastes, and even live experiences are thanks to our parents’ introducing us to their favorite acts. Music naturally breeds community, and when you pair that with a day as sentimental as Mother’s Day, it’s easy to get caught up in your feelings.
We’ve all got that one potent memory that brings together good tunes and our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and the like, the people that raised us through our highs and lows. We’ve all got songs that have us burst out laughing, for instance, because Mom is convinced that every band is The Killers, or knows all the words to a Cypress Hill classic.
Personally, I’ve a very difficult relationship with my mother, but one arena we always say eye-to-eye on was music. Growing up in the USSR, my mother was a fiend for music, and considering the only way to hear American records was through a syndicate illegal vinyl trade, it’s obvious she is the source of my love for collecting and discovering music.
Likely because she’s Russian, she has a deep love for cathartic arrangements, string sections, and tremendous swells reminiscent of the classical records that were always on hand. But my mother also loves rock-n-roll, a dash of folk, and disco. In fact, there was a moment in our lives, that may or may not be over, where she was convinced all songs with repetitive hooks were disco. Imagine the surprise when she learned otherwise.
While we can argue until we’re both blue in the face, and our hearts are heavy with the weight of the relationship, music always brings us lightness. She shares my penchant for good jazz, soul, funk, and has a grip of hip-hop songs that she can get into with ease. Even though she never made me a mixtape featuring Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West,” there is a lot of love for me in her heart and music only helps to nurture that love.
In that same breath, below you will find some Mother’s Day music memories from fellow EARMILK writers, ranging for touching to hysterical, and everything in between. Mother’s Day is a difficult holiday for a lot of people, but a good memory, a good tune, and a good laugh can help take the edge off.
JH: Growing up, I had the most supportive parents I could imagine, mostly manifested in their attendance to my 15 year athletic career, only missing one or two games over this period. They would drive me—and often many of my friends—to and from practices and games sacrificing a lot to make sure I could have the best experiences. One highlight of game-day trips, which often had our family driving up to an hour to early morning football games, was the pregame mixtape my mom made for the ride.
These tracks were a mix of some of her favorites from her youth and some more modern stuff. This was the first time I learned of the emotional impact music could have. Even as a third grader in 2003, I could recognize how powerful pulling up to classic matchup of “mine vs yours” with "Thunderstruck" blasting out of the windows could be. Although we differed on how impactful Will Smith's “Wild Wild West” was, these mixtapes meant a lot and even inspired me to make my own pregame playlists, with fine tuning to match the emotions I needed at different times.
RS: “Somebody Told Me” by The Killers is a song that always reminds me of my mom because, for a while, she assumed every band that played on the radio was The Killers. I distinctly remember driving around with her one afternoon and “Clocks” by Coldplay came on. “Is this The Killers?” she asked, to which I burst out laughing, telling her it was, in fact, Coldplay. She continued to do this for a solid year, even when my sister or I played a genre not even remotely close to The Killers. We still give a little jab here and there to her and the inside joke lives on forever in my family.
KC: My most poignant mom music memory was the day my favorite artist Porter Robinson's seminal project Worlds was released on NPR First Listen. I was getting ready to head to Europe to blow off steam after a particularly trying year, and found myself home for a few weeks between jobs. I remember everything about that moment like it was yesterday, from how brightly the sun shone into our kitchen to the smile on my mom's face when she said: “This is so good, it makes doing the dishes fun!” We embraced with tears in both our eyes, for is anything more powerful than sharing the joy of music with the human who brought you into this world?
AF: From a young age it became apparent in my household that music was a big player. While my dad listened to the likes of The Cure and The Doors, my mum would often play hip-hop, reggae, and anything in between. “Hits from the Bong” by Cypress Hill, bizarrely, is a song I remember vividly as one of her favourites. At the time, the title and lyrics meant nothing to me— it was just a song I knew I could dance to that my mum loved, too. When it gets late and we've had a few wines, it always comes on the playlist and we often get up to duet to various horrified members of family.
TO: For as long as I could remember, both my parents played music around the house, especially during weekends when they were around. My mum did play a variety of genres from soul, soft rock, pop, but very little hip-hop. The two hip-hop songs I remember very early were Run DMC’s “Tricky,” my mum was always singing along to the chorus, and LL Cool J's “I'm Bad.” The songs I do remember the most were from Diana Ross and Fleetwood Mac—mum was and is a staunch fan of both acts. Diana Ross's “Mirror,” “You Can't Hurry Love,” and “Sweet Nothings” are etched in my mind forever . As for Fleetwood Mac's “Never Going Back Again,” “Second Hand News,” and “Dreams” are the ones that grew on me. Thank you, mum.