Mother (John Lennon song)

Mother (John Lennon song)
Single by John Lennon
from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
B-side "Why" (Yoko Ono)
Released December 28, 1970
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded September–October 1970
Genre Rock
Length 5:34 (album version)
3:53 (single edit)
Writer(s) John Lennon
Producer Phil Spector, John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John Lennon singles chronology
"Instant Karma!"
"Power to the People"
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band track listing

Mother is a song by British musician John Lennon, first released on his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. An edited version of the song was issued as a single in the United States on Apple Records, catalogue 1827, about three weeks after the album. The single runs is about fifteen seconds shorter than the album due to a lack of the tolling bells intro and a quicker fadeout. The B-side features "Why" by Yoko Ono.



"Mother" is actually a cry to both of his parents, who abandoned him in his childhood. His father Alfred Lennon left the family when John was an infant; his mother Julia, who didn't live with her son although they had a good relationship, was hit and killed by a car driven by a drunk off-duty policeman when Lennon was 17. Lennon relives the loss of his parents with lyrics such as "Mother, you had me/but I never had you"; "Father, you left me/but I never left you".

"Mother" begins with the sound of a funeral church bell ringing ominously, signifying death.

Lennon was inspired to write the song after undergoing primal therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov, originally at their home at Tittenhurst Park and then at the Primal Institute, California, where they remained for four months. Lennon, who eventually derided Janov, initially described the therapy as "something more important to me than The Beatles."[1]

Although Lennon said that "Mother" was the song that "seemed to catch in my head," he had doubts about its commercial appeal and he considered issuing "Love" as a single instead.[2] "Love" was eventually released as a single in 1982.

Other versions

Barbra Streisand recorded "Mother" (as well as Lennon's "Love") on her 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand and was a single as well. The song was also featured on the Lennon's live album Live in New York City, released by Yoko Ono after his death. Other songs born out of this period of therapy include "Working Class Hero" and "Isolation". Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Mother video game series, stated in an interview that this song was in large part the inspiration for his naming of the series. Mia Martini recorded in 1972 this song in Italian, with the title literally translated as "Madre". Maynard Ferguson recorded the song on his 1972 album M.F. Horn Two. Shelby Lynne covered this song for her 2001 album Love, Shelby, with the added resonance of her tragic family history. (Lynne's father, an abusive alcoholic, shot and killed her mother and then himself when Lynne was 17.) Christina Aguilera covered the song in 2007 for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, and Emmanuel Jal's version was available on that album as an iTunes exclusive bonus track.


The musicians who performed on the original recording were as follows:[3]


  1. ^ Lennon: The Definitive Biography; Ray Coleman; 1984; Pan Publishing
  2. ^ Lennon Remembers; Jann Wenner; 1971; Straight Arrow Press
  3. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen To This Book. Guildford, Great Britain: Biddles Ltd.. p. 57. ISBN 0-9544528-1-X. 

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