Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate strong women in your life who inspired you and cared for you. They could be aunties, grandmothers, biological mothers, teachers, foster carers, older sisters or any special person you want to celebrate on this day. All strong women need strong music. So, go old school and make that special woman / person in your life a kick ass mix tape with these tracks. These ten tracks will definitely take Mother’s Day up to 11 and give her the rockin’ Mother’s Day she deserves. So, here we go:
10. Dolly Parton: 9 to 5
Dolly never had children herself, but was a guiding force in raising her younger siblings and their children. 9 to 5 is the perfect shout out to all the hard working women out there getting it done. Whether it is in the office or at home, you are making it happen. Moreover, Dolly’s role in her family shows how Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate all women in our lives and how they have inspired us growing up. It also helps that this track is fire. A great way to kick off Mother’s Day.
9. Madonna: Express Yourself
Madonna is a mother of six children and still brings it. Express Yourself is a great track off of the iconic Like a Prayer record. This is such a fun song with fantastic energy. Madonna brings an infectious pop vibe, which mixes well with her feminist defiance. She is one who will not be silenced and the entire song is about having your voice heard. I have to sing along to this song whenever I hear it and the hook is a work of art. Sometimes you forget how much Madonna owned pop music during this time. Express Yourself reminds you how great it was to throw on some Madonna during the peak of her career.
8. Lauryn Hill: Doo Wop (That Thing)
In the 1990s, Lauryn Hill made one of the best hip hop records of all time with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This record tackled issues of race, feminism and class, while having some of the tightest verses in the business. Lauryn Hill has six children herself and this track will inspire her daughters to fight for respect and take down the patriarchy. Hill calls for her women at the beginning of the track and continues to expose men’s mistreatment of women in relationships. Her rhymes and delivery are amazing as she calls out men for lies and disrespect, while also telling women they are “gems” and deserve more.
7. Jefferson Airplane: Somebody to Love
Mums rock, so bring in Grace Slick. She is a mother and shows how mums can bring the rock with some iconic tracks. Once such iconic track is Somebody to Love. This is a song that defined music in 1967 and was a core element of the West Coast psychedelic rock sound. Slick’s steely and powerful vocal rides over some trippy guitar and percussion. Somebody to Love has such a raw energy to it that you can often get swept up in the song and let it carry you away.
6. Beyoncé: Formation
One of the most high profile music mums is Beyoncé. The track Formation shows how mums can still be activists and fight for what they believe in. Beyoncé directly takes on racism and police brutality throughout the track, while also celebrating her blackness. This track was a shift for Beyoncé as she took on more socially active themes, which will become the core of her music and production decisions / projects moving forward. Formation shows how women can inspire others through speaking out and being examples for others.
5. Alanis Morissette: Smiling
Morissette spoke about how having a child caused her to look differently at life and also inspired her to release her Such Pretty Forks in the Road record in 2020. This track centres on Alanis looking back at her life and interrogating past mistakes and painful events in her life. All during the track she reflects on these instances and continues to smile and keep moving forward. This is an inspirational message for anyone and one that she tries to instil her child. Moreover, the song shows the reality of ups and downs in motherhood. For Alanis, motherhood is filled with both joy and sorrow with times where all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep smiling.
4. Patti Smith: Gloria
Patti Smith is both the mother of punk rock and a mother to two children. Gloria is the groundbreaking track of the 1970s New York punk scene. This has the best line in rock music, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins / But not mine,” as well as a raw power that very few tracks can match. Patti questioned gender, male power and rock music structures throughout her career. Gloria is the pure distillation of these themes into the essence of punk. This is one of the best songs ever written and shows that mums can still be punk rock.
3. Aretha Franklin: Respect
Aretha was a mother herself, as well as the godmother of Whitney Houston, although this has been debated recently. Her track Respect is part of a long line of songs dealing with race and feminist themes. Aretha demands that you respect her as a black woman and demands that men respect her in relationships. THe key to this song is the chorus of “freedom” that sings out in pride and urgency that is telling for 1967 when it was released. Aretha’s courage in putting this track out should be inspirational for everyone regardless of gender or race.
2. June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash: Jackson
One of the most underrated elements of Johnny Cash’s career was the contribution of June Carter Cash. She was an amazing country singer in her own right and added a grounded dimension to their duets. Jackson is probably the most well known duet and is about how two people got married quickly and the man is try to act macho, while she is constantly undercutting his bluster. I love this track. The dynamic between the tow give the track a comedic vibe, while also showcasing June’s vocal. This is a great track and best enjoyed via a live recording.
- Nina Simone: Feeling Good
Activist, singer, icon and mother; Nina Simone has a number of different roles in her life. Her work is legendary and she has some of the most well known Civil Rights tracks out there. Feeling Good showcases both her amazing vocal range and her ability to infuse racial justice themes in her work. Singing about a “new dawn” and a “new life” in this track is layered with social justice meanings when you view it through her Civil Rights prism. This is an incredible track on one worthy of Mother’s Day.
I hope you like these ten tracks and have an amazing Mother’s Day. Celebrate the special / strong women in your life and enjoy the day.