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Single by John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band
from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
B-side "Why"
Released December 28, 1970
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1970
Genre Rock
Length 3:53
Writer(s) John Lennon
Producer Phil Spector, John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band singles chronology
"Instant Karma!"
"Power to the People"
Song by John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band

from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

Released 11 December 1970
Recorded 1970
Genre Rock
Length 5:35
Label Apple Records, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
Writer John Lennon
Producer John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band track listing
"Hold On"

"Mother" is a song by British musician John Lennon, taken from his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. An edited version of the song was released as a single, in the US only, in 1970. This version later appeared on Lennon's 1975 compilation Shaved Fish, as well as on the 1997 compilation Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon. The single edit of this song is significantly shorter (about 3:38) than the album version. This version cuts out the beginning tolling bells as well as some of Lennon's more guttural screams that intensify at the ending of the song. The B-side features "Why" by Yoko Ono.

Though the song is called "Mother", it is actually a cry to both of his parents, who "abandoned" him in his childhood - father Alf Lennon left the family when John was an infant, and mother Julia was hit by a car and killed on the street by an allegedly drunk-driving off-duty policeman, when her son was 17. Lennon bemoans the loss of his parents singing lyrics such as "Mother, you had me/but I never had you"; "Father, you left me/but I never left you"; "I needed you/you didn't need me"; and "Mama, don't go/Daddy come home". It is one of three songs which Lennon wrote for his mother, along with "Julia" and "My Mummy's Dead". The song begins with the sound of a church bell ringing ominously, signifying death.

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.[1] "Love" was eventually released as a single in 1982.

Lennon was inspired to write the song by a period of using primal therapy, which works on the assumption that the patient has several defences which must be stripped down to reveal the "real person". Lennon's wife Yoko Ono worked on this with Dr. Arthur Janov, originally at their home at Tittenhurst Park for a period of three weeks and then at the Primal Institute, California where they remained for four months. Lennon described the therapy as "something more important to me than The Beatles."[2]

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 live album Live in New York City by Lennon, but 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". 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 Remembers; Jann Wenner; 1971; Straight Arrow Press
  2. ^ Lennon: The Definitive Biography; Ray Coleman; 1984; Pan Publishing
  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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