For those who have already trotted out pop-country standards like Taylor Swift’s “The Best Day” and Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget To Remember Me,” these 5 tracks represent some of the best tributes to motherhood. From the classics to the newest releases, these songs capture the love and joy that define motherhood and childhood from a range of musical perspectives and voices.
Here are the 5 top tracks for Mom:
1. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
This Beatles classic was written by George Harrison and released on Abbey Road in 1969. Without so much as a mention of moms or stanzas tiptoeing from maternity wards to kindergarten classes to college dorms, this track captures the joy of change, of a much-needed arrival.
The sun might be a new baby or a Mom coming home to make a bad day better. In my favorite, if not particularly sophisticated version, the sun is arriving for a family that’s been going through difficult times – something that just about every family can relate to as we weather a global pandemic. Plus, the overt overtones of spring make this a timely and altogether wonderful track for Mother’s Day.
2. My Only Child – The Highwomen
In 2019, an all-female super-group got together to write their first self-titled album, The Highwomen. The album features writing and performances by country darlings like Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert, both of whom have trafficked in songs tailor-made for Mother’s Day. Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” is a sweet tribute to home, and Morris, who welcomed a baby in March, wrote a song about her pregnancy which may appear on her upcoming, as-yet-untitled third album.
I came across this supergroup collection in search of more Brandi Carlisle tunes – her song, “Mother,” nearly made this list – and in the process, I stumbled upon “My Only Child.” At its most literal, this track is a love letter to an only child desperate for a sibling, but when the song breaks into its chorus, the little, treasured details of motherhood become universal to moms and children alike, and I’m transported back to my childhood bedroom. I start crying every time.
3. Hey Mama – Kanye West
In a sea of tributes and honorable mentions to mothers, Kanye West’s “Hey Mama” shines for its love and honesty. The track was released in 2005 and revived in an emotional performance at the Grammy’s in 2008, three months after the death of West’s mother, Donda West.
Kanye’s performance is a gut punch, and as families shelter in place, it’s becoming clearer how much we owe to our parents and how much we want to give them for all the things they’ve done for us, making the track a particularly timely and meaningful choice for this Mother’s Day.
4. I Can’t Wait To Meet You – Fiona Apple
In partnership with the Lullaby Project, Fiona Apple wrote “I Can’t Wait To Meet You” in 2018. The track features a sample of a mother talking to her unborn daughter ahead of her due date before swirling into a soft, lilting melody.
The album as a whole is worth a look, with tracks that traverse across languages, cultures, and families while remaining true to the lullaby tradition. The Lullaby Project pairs artists with new and expecting parents to write personalized lullabies. The project reaches parents in homeless shelters, high school, foster care, correctional facilities, and healthcare settings to support “maternal health,” “child development,” and “the bond between parent and child.”
5. Blue – Beyoncé
Beyoncé, the international singer-songwriter, mom of three, and all-around queen, wrote “Blue” for her eldest daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in 2014 on her platinum, self-titled album BEYONCÉ. The track features Blue Ivy singing with her mom.
The pair also collaborated on the track, “Brown Skin Girl,” which won the Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award at the 2019 BET Soul Train Awards when Carter was just 7 years old. It’s the first time Carter was recognized for her songwriting, and the track prompted an online movement, the #brownskingirlchallenge, which encourages women of color to celebrate their melanin.
Honorable mention goes to “Little Green” by Joni Mitchell, “You Are Your Mother’s Child” by Conor Oberst, and “Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind” by Bob Dylan and covered by Jeff Buckley. If you’re a partner orchestrating Mother’s Day festivities on behalf of your too-young children, songs like John Legend’s “You & I” and Alan Jackson’s “Remember When” are sweet tunes that capture the love between parents.
If you want more of the country and country-adjacent songs that nearly made this list, check out “Mother” by Sugarland and “Mother” by Kacey Musgraves. Although they might not be uniquely named, each promises a loving tribute to the women behind these stars. If you’d like to dive even deeper in Country’s roots, listen to Dolly Parton’s classic “Coat of Many Colors.”