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Best Mother’s Day Songs: 40 Tracks To Show Mothers You Love Them
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
List & Guides

Best Mother’s Day Songs: 40 Tracks To Show Mothers You Love Them

Whether reflective or celebratory, the best Mother’s Day songs are emotional outpourings that give thanks to the women that raise us.

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Everyone from The Beatles to 2Pac have praised the women that raised us, making us what we are today. Whether they are ballads of gratitude or harrowing tales of loss, these 40 best Mother’s Day songs celebrate the true heads of the household.

Best Mother’s Day Songs: 40 Tracks To Show Mothers You Love Them

40: Lukas Graham: Mama Said (2015)

Reflecting on his impoverished upbringing in Christiania, Copenhagen, and how his parents – particularly his mother – gave him guidance, Lukas Graham’s 2015 soul-pop single Mama Said has racked up over 350 million streams on Spotify. Sampling It’s The Hard Knock Life from Broadway musical Annie, the song sees Graham praise his mother for giving him a much-needed sense of perspective on life (“When mama said that it was OK/Mama said that it was quite alright/Our kind of people had a bed for the night/And it was OK”). “We didn’t grow up with too much money, but we always had enough,” Graham himself noted on a Genius annotation. “We had food on the table and beds to sleep in, plenty of second-hand clothes.” As one of the best Mother’s Day songs to demonstrate how good parenting and decent morals can steer children on the right course, Mama Said is a sweet and well-intentioned pop delicacy.

39: Aretha Franklin: A Mother’s Love (1966)

A gorgeous gospel-tinged ballad by the “Queen Of Soul”, all the wonders of nature are celebrated before concluding that nothing compares to a mother’s love. With Aretha Franklin’s awe-inspiring voice, A Mother Love’s lush melody and heart-warming sentiment has all the power and simplicity of a religious prayer, invoking the holy spirit of the Mother Mary to remind us of the heavenly influence of the maternal instinct in each of our hearts.

38: The Beach Boys: Mama Says (1967)

This tune is an a cappella mantra listing all the key advice a mother gives her child. “Eat a lot, sleep a lot, brush ’em like crazy/Run a lot, do a lot, never be lazy,” The Beach Boys recount, with their signature vocal blend. The song celebrates happy childhoods provided by mothers who give their children lives filled with joy, freedom and – apparently – a lot of teeth brushing. We can’t fault mums for advice on oral hygiene.

37: Eric Hutchinson: I Hope She’s Just Like You (2021)

Though this smooth pop ballad was penned for Washington-based songwriter Eric Hutchinson’s wife when she became a mother to a baby girl, the song’s video was released on Mother’s Day in 2021 and has since been embraced by Hutchinson’s fans as a tribute to all mothers. With lyrics wishing that his daughter takes on a gamut of her mother’s traits – from the warmth of her smile to her fearless spirit – I Hope She’s Just Like You celebrates the best of womanhood that only a mother can bestow.

36: Jason Mraz: What Mama Say (Life Is Good) (2010)

“This is a song for the mamas!” Jason Mraz says, before launching into this fun, tongue-in-cheek live performance from his EP Life Is Good. Reeling off a litany of chores a mother tells her son to do – from making his bed to taking the garbage out – Mraz lyrically dabbles in mischief like a cheeky chappie, as the song sways to jazzy horns. “Whatever mama say,” he sings, “you better listen to your mama.” We’re sure all mums can be demanding sometimes, but if there’s any day they deserve to obeyed, it’s Mother’s Day. So listen to Jason Mraz, and do your chores!

35: Bruce Springsteen: The Wish (1998)

If anyone was going to make a truly beautiful addition to the best Mother’s Day songs, it was Bruce Springsteen. According to The Boss himself, The Wish is “the most autobiographical song” he’s ever written. Detailing the sacrifices his mother made to ensure her son could achieve his goals, it’s a very personal and intimate tune on which Springsteen feels more raw than ever.

34: Elvis Presley: Mama Liked the Roses (1969)

Adopting a gospel croon, rather than his signature vocal style, the “King Of Rock’n’Roll” recorded this song as a touching tribute to his mother, who had died over a decade earlier, in 1958. Detailing how close Elvis Presley was to his mother, and all the things she did to make his childhood perfect, Mama Liked The Roses is a deeply resonant entry among the best Mother’s Day songs. Touching all those who have lost their mothers, it helps us fully appreciate what we had – and continue to have.

33: Madonna: Promise To Try (1989)

Taken from Madonna’s Like A Prayer album, Promise To Try is about the death of Madonna’s mother, who passed away when the singer was only five. Through this track, however, Madonna keeps her spirit alive, delivering one of the best Mother’s Day songs in the process.

32: The Smashing Pumpkins: Once Upon A Time (1998)

Written as a one-way conversation with his departed mother, Once Upon A Time is a touching, lullaby-esque piano ballad that Smashing Pumpkins songwriter Billy Corgan wrote following his mother’s death, in 1996. Imagining one final conversation with her, in which the singer confesses his struggle with grief and admits that he strives “to make you so proud in my eyes”, it’s a thought-provoking reminder of why we should all appreciate our mothers before time steals them away from us. There’s a sobering lesson here: there’s no better time than the present to pick up the phone and open our hearts to our mums.

31: Iron And Wine: Upward Over The Mountain (2002)

“Mother, don’t worry,” whispers Sam Ervin Beam as the song begins. A blissfully peaceful tune centred around moving on from the safety of the world and beginning your own life, Upward Over The Mountain is rife with emblematic language. Personal and bittersweet, it is also centred around a familiar scenario: though we all eventually flee the nest, Beam reminds us that our mothers are there every step of the way, regardless of whether we’re near or far.

30: Idles: Mother (2017)

This modern punk classic epitomises what it’s like to have a mother who works herself to the bone for the sake of her family. It’s a perfect reminder of why we love our mothers, and gives us a moment to appreciate all the work they do for us. It also acknowledges that love for a mother can be violent and aggressive, showing that we will protect them, just like they have protected us.

29: Sufjan Stevens: Carrie And Lowell (2015)

Heavily reliant on symbolism, Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie And Lowell is a melancholy masterpiece. Tackling a complicated mother-son relationship tainted by absence, sickness and death, it supplies comfort to those who have gone through similar experiences. Not every familial relationship is perfect, but Stevens reminds us that that’s OK.

28: Mac Miller: I’ll Be There (featuring Phonte) (2011)

Following the examples of Kanye West and Jay-Z, Mac Miller’s 2011 track I’ll Be There sees him drop his own hyper-lyrical homage to his mother (“See I was six years old with a dream/When my moms told me I can do anything/Said she’d be there forever, no matter what’s the weather/She’d always have my back even when we weren’t together”). “I feel like my mom is one of the best moms ever – how I’m sure everyone else feels,” Miller explained to Genius. “So I wanted to make a song speaking on that.” Praising all the love and support his mum had given him over the years, what makes I’ll Be There all the more poignant among the best Mother’s Day songs is Miller’s tragic death at the age of 26.

27: The Who: Squeeze Box (1975)

In an odd move, The Who turned to innuendo-laden country music for Squeeze Box – however, for the purpose of this list of best Mother’s Day songs, we’ll read it cleanly. The squeeze box in question is, of course, another name for the accordion. It’s about the joy a mum finds in playing her accordion. Honest. The song also seems to reverse the traditional roles of family life: the mother’s the chaotic one, forcing her family to put up with her racket. Come on, let her have her fun…

26: Kacey Musgraves: Mother (2018)

Written in just 15 minutes, this touching track from modern country queen Kacey Musgraves is a tribute to the maternal circle. Here we see Musgraves realise just how similar her and her mother are; she gets tearful and thankful as she sees her mother’s best qualities reflected in herself. The song shows that the cycle of motherhood will always continue, and that good qualities aren’t lost through the ages.

25: Anne-Marie: Her (2020)

Released on Mother’s Day in 2020 by Essex-born pop singer Anne-Marie, Her was a lovingly crafted tribute to her own mother, co-written with Westlife songwriting supremo Steve Mac. “All thanks to you, the lessons that I’ve learned,” Anne-Marie sings. “If I had to put it into words, I think of an angel and all I see is her.” While admitting she treated her mother badly when she was younger, Anne-Marie’s affecting apology will resonate with mothers and daughters alike. Accompanied by a music video featuring snaps of Anne-Marie’s fans with their mothers, it’s a touching entry among the best Mother’s Day songs, and it truly wears its heart on its sleeve.

24: Boyz II Men: A Song For Mama (1997)

The final hit in Boyz II Men’s golden run of the 90s, A Song For Mama sees the Motown vocal harmony group craft an unconventional love ballad proving they were all just mama’s boys at heart. Penned by R&B songwriter Babyface and included on the soundtrack to the comedy-drama film Soul Food, A Song For Mama’s lyrics expressed how strongly a mother’s words can instil children with self-belief (“There were so many times/Looking back when I was so afraid/And then you’d come to me and say to me/I could face anything”). Peaking at No.7 on the US Hot 100, A Song For Mama still sits among the best Mother’s Day songs, leaving listeners in little doubt about the driving force of a maternal influence.

23: Spice Girls: Mama (1997)

An ode to mothers everywhere and a reminder of just how much they are cherished, Mama gave Spice Girls their fourth consecutive UK No.1 hit. Wearing their hearts on their sleeves with this syrupy and sentimental celebration of motherhood, the iconic 90s girl group has much to say in this song about the impact that mothers have had on their lives. “The sentiments are really that your mum’s probably the best friend that you’ve got,” Mel B said in the book Real Life: Real Spice: The Official Story By The Spice Girls, adding, “Whether she’s an over-protective mother or a bit of a landmine, she probably knows you better than yourself in some ways.” From the ways in which mothers love us unconditionally through difficult times, to their ability to provide guidance and wisdom, Mama celebrates all the wonderful qualities a mother brings into our lives. A pop ballad par excellence, it more than earns the right to be considered one of the best Mother’s Day songs.

22: Kanye West: Hey Mama (2005)

This song goes out to mothers everywhere, but, most importantly, Donda West. Not only did she bring Kanye into the world, but she was also a fantastic parent. Hey Mama celebrates everything Donda did for Kanye, detailing how she supported him in his music and never lost faith in his passion. Much like many mothers today, Donda put her child first and allowed him to be who he wanted to be.

21: Fountains Of Wayne: Stacey’s Mom (2003)

This isn’t your typical ode to the women who raise us, but Fountains Of Wayne’s tongue-in-cheek banger is all about a love – or obsession – with your partner’s mother. It’s weird, we know, but stranger songs have been written…

20: Cavetown: I Miss My Mum (2020)

Back when we were wallowing in isolation bubbles, one of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic was being kept apart from our loved ones, particularly parents. In the early stages of the pandemic, indie-pop songwriter Cavetown released a charming single called I Miss My Mum, which was later accompanied with a DIY promo film that nostalgia-bombed viewers with childhood photos and home-video footage. By tackling feelings of homesickness and separation anxiety (“Buddy, you just need to find home/And I think maybe you just miss your mum”), Cavetown’s emotional outpouring ranks among the best Mother’s Day songs for reminding us exactly how it felt to wrestle with loneliness during one of most difficult moments in recent history.

19: Lucy Dacus: My Mother And I (2019)

Lucy Dacus’ ode to mothers is rife with heartfelt love. Having been adopted as a child, Dacus wrote this song about both her mothers, exploring what they have passed on through both their bodies (from her birth mother) and personalities (her adopted mother). It’s a poignant track celebrating the women who raise us, whether they share a biological connection or not

18: Blake Shelton: The Baby (2002)

Being the youngest child and seemingly his mother’s “favourite”, country singer Blake Shelton’s 2002 single The Baby sees the singer reflect on how mothers always molly-coddle the youngest sibling, no matter how old they grow to be (“I don’t care if you’re 80, you’ll always be my baby”). The song’s narrator grows to assume that this will last forever, but as the song reaches its devastating conclusion, it serves as a spine-tingling reminder to never take your mother for granted. With Shelton claiming he had to stop playing the song live due to audience members bursting into to tears, The Baby helps us realise that we could all do with a little mollycoddling every now and again.

17: Gary Clark, Jr: Pearl Cadillac (2019)

Blues-rock musician Gary Clark, Jr, wrote Pearl Cadillac to express his wish to repay his mother for all the sacrifices she made to raise him (“I don’t wanna let you down,” he sings. “Oh, I only wanna make you proud”). In this very public expression of appreciation for his ma, Gary Clark, Jr, anticipates she would only respond by saying he owes her nothing, to which he retorts: “Oh, if I could, I’d give you the world.” What a smoothie. If you’re stuck for words, maybe try writing that in your Mother’s Day card this year. You won’t go far wrong.

16: ABBA: Does Your Mother Know (1979)

You can always rely on ABBA to bring the fun, and this song basically says, “What mum doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” Setting a raunchy theme into the loving arms of classic disco-pop, it’s a cheeky entry among the best Mother’s Day songs, but it’s perfect for a light-hearted boogie.

15: Spinners: Sadie (1975)

A classic soul song most famous these days for being interpolated in Wiz Khalifa’s 2015 pop-rap hit, See You Again, featuring Charlie Puth, Sadie more than deserves to be considered one of the best Mother’s Day songs. With heartfelt and sincere lyrics, Michigan powerhouses Spinners pay tribute to a mother after her passing, bringing a tear to the eye for the way in which the group smoothly convey how a mother’s love trumps any financial reward (“Ain’t it funny that in the end, it’s not money/It’s just the love you gave us all?”). Peaking at No.54 in the US upon its release in April 1975, this classic track will warm your mother’s heart, particularly if her name is Sadie!

14: BB King: Nobody Loves Me But My Mother (1971)

Summing everything up in its title, the king of the blues delivers a superbly smooth ode to his mother. King’s vocals alone harbour unrestrained emotion on a beautiful song that reminds us: even if you think nobody loves you, your mother always will.

13: LL Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out: (1990)

Often considered LL Cool J’s greatest song, the superbly sample-ridden Mama Said Knock You Out emerged from a conversation he had with his grandmother. Having voiced his worries about making it as a rapper, LL’s grandma simply replied, “Oh, baby, just knock them out!” Not only is this a fantastic hype tune, but it also lets us know that mothers always have our backs.

12: Madness: Our House (1983)

Our House perfectly brings to life the semi-controlled chaos of a typical family: not everyone can be happy all the time, but there’s always love under that roof. Of course, the mother is the backbone of the song: she solves the problems, she does the chores; she’s “the one they’re going to miss”. Thanks to a cacophony of trumpets, a catchy chorus and a lovely message to tie it all together, Madness remind us of how dysfunctional family life can be, and how mothers are always there to pick up the pieces.

11: Paul Simon: Mother And Child Reunion (1972)

Inspired by the death of his dog, Paul Simon wrote the 1972 reggae-pop hit Mother And Child Reunion as a way of wrestling with the concept of mortality. “It was the first death I had ever experienced personally,” Simon said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “Nobody in my family died that I felt that. But I felt this loss – one minute there, next minute gone.” Opting to collaborate with Jamaican reggae star Jimmy Cliff’s backing band as he riffed on how he would have felt if it had been his mother, rather than his dog, who had died, Simon deftly captured the enduring spirit of maternal love both in life and death (“Oh, the mother and child reunion is only a motion away”), and set it all to a jaunty melody. If any song has the power to encourage mother and child to reconnect, it’s this one.

10: Enya: So I Could Find My Way (2015)

Many of the best Mother’s Day songs can bring a tear to your eye. Irish songstress Enya dedicated her 2015 song So I Could Find My Way to the mother of her producer, Nicky Ryan, after she passed away. Slow and ethereal, the song is a sad but deeply heartfelt expression of gratitude for the ladies that brought us into this world and nurtured us into the people we grow to become (“A thousand dreams you gave to me/You held me high, you held me high/And all those years you guided me/So I could find my way”).

9: The Shirelles: Mama Said (1979)

Mama Said, by The Shirelles, offers a heartfelt and timeless tribute to the matriarchs in our lives. Released in April 1961 and peaking at No.4 in the US, this classic song from the girl-group era is a favourite for many on Mother’s Day. With its catchy chorus (“Mama said there’ll be days like this/There’ll be days like this, my mama said”) and lyrics that capture the words of warning mothers impart to their daughters all over the world, the combination of bright harmonies and naïve emotions that dust themselves off from the kicks and scrapes of real-world troubles is a joy to listen to. It’s a song that’s sure to bring a smile to anyone who hears it.

8: Pink Floyd: Mother (1979)

An unconventional entry among the best Mother’s Day songs, Mother was recorded for Pink Floyd’s 1979 concept album, The Wall. The story of an overprotective mother who really doesn’t want her son to leave the nest, it’s a sad, powerful and deeply affecting track –everything you’d expect from Pink Floyd.

 

7: Céline Dion: Because You Loved Me (1996)

Written by songwriter Diane Warren for the soundtrack of the 1996 romantic film Up Close & Personal, Because You Loved Me was released by Céline Dion in February that year and peaked at No.1 in the US, where it sold over two million copies. Full of warm-hearted gratitude, the song’s lyrics were originally penned to pay tribute not to a lover but to the support of a loving parent, with words that chime stronger than ever on Mother’s Day (“You were my strength when I was weak/You were my voice when I couldn’t speak/You were my eyes when I couldn’t see/You saw the best there was in me”). After Dion’s mother died, aged 92, in 2020, the singer performed this song among many others, and regularly dedicated her live shows to her late parent. “My mother was an amazing woman,” Dion said in an interview with The People. “She was my hero. I miss her so much.”

6: Phil Collins: You Can’t Hurry Love (1982)

With this pop-rock remake of The Supremes’ 1966 Motown classic You Can’t Hurry Love, Phil Collins took a song about a motherly pep talk back into the charts in 1982. With lyrics recalling those times when young love rears its head and we struggle to find “The One”, it’s always mama who eases our loneliness by giving us encouragement and faith that true love will find its way to us eventually (“‘You just have to wait’/She said, ‘Love don’t come easy/It’s a game of give and take’”). Anyone who’s shared a heart-to-heart with our mums following a break-up will no doubt attest to those pearls of wisdom.

5: The Beatles: Let It Be (1970)

Written and performed by Paul McCartney, and the last single The Beatles released before he left the band, Let It Be is a reflective yet hopeful tune inspired by McCartney’s mother, Mary. McCartney stated that his mother, who died when he was 14, came to him in a dream, reassuring him with the words “let it be”. It’s a comforting reminder that, no matter where our mothers are, their words will always remain with us.

4: 2Pac: Dear Mama (1995)

From 2Pac’s highly-praised third album, Me Against The World, Dear Mama finds the late MC asserting that the positives of his youth outweigh the negatives. Despite the hardships both 2Pac and his mother faced, love outweighed them all.

 

3: Kate Bush: This Woman’s Work (1988)

Easily one of Kate Bush’s most emotional ballads, This Woman’s Work, written from the perspective of a man watching his wife become a mother, never fails to bring a tear to the eye. As his wife gives birth, the man reflects on all the good his wife has done, and how her work will make her a great mother; this means he really needs to step up to match her effort. A beautifully melancholic track, it reminds us of the great sacrifices women have to go through to have children.

2: Dolly Parton: Coat Of Many Colors (1971)

Described by the iconic country singer as “a true story about a little patchwork coat my momma made me from a box of rags”, Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors is widely considered to be one of the best Mother’s Day songs of all-time. A classic country tune that sees Parton touchingly interpret a handmade coat as a sign of her mother’s love, the seemingly autobiographical lyrics behind this heartfelt ballad capture the true essence of unconditional love and appreciation. “It speaks well of my family and particularly my mother,” Parton said in a 2004 interview with Mojo magazine. “My spiritual values, too. I can always sing that sincerely from my heart.” Deeply touching and moving, Coat Of Many Colors is an unbridled tearjerker among the best Mother’s Day songs.

1: Bette Midler: Wind Beneath My Wings (1988)

With its universal message of love left open to interpretation, Bette Midler’s beautiful ballad Wind Beneath My Wings has become as a Mother’s Day anthem. Frequently embraced by listeners as a tribute to their own mums, the song’s lyrics are a perfect match for the woman who is always the pillar of strength we turn to in times of need (“Did you ever know that you’re my hero?/You’re everything I wish I could be”). A fitting message to a maternal bond that can never be broken, Wind Beneath My Wings soars to the top of our list of the best Mother’s Day songs.

Original article: 12 March 2021. Words: Joe Smith

Updated: 27 March 2022, 19 March 2023. Extra words: Luke Edwards

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