Programming note: Steyn's Serenade Radio Song of the Week airs at its usual time in the UK today - 5.30pm GMT - but an hour later in North America - 1.30pm Eastern - due to temporarily misaligned time zones. You can listen from anywhere on the planet right here.
~Happy Mothering Sunday to our various mums, mamas, maters and mothers in the British Isles, in Nigeria and in various other parts of the Commonwealth. We usually air this special a little later in the year, on the North American Mother's Day, but this year I thought we'd cut our Anglo-Celtic-Hausa-Yoruba mummies in on the deal. If you've been remiss in your attentions and left it too late for flowers or a box of Quality Street, there's always a Steyn Club gift membership, which can be digitally delivered.
On this Mothering Sunday the very concept is in jeopardy. Under the accelerating transanity, the preferred designation of allegedly respected institutions such as hospitals and state bureaucracies is "gestational parent" - because, after all, in today's exciting world it could just as easily be your father who went all gestational with you. Conversely, if your mum was "assigned the male gender" at birth, she can still learn to chestfeed. That's the new approved term - "chestfeeding": it has its knockers - no, wait, just as often it doesn't.
Notwithstanding such provocations, for old-fashioned types around much of the world today, a young lad's heart naturally turns to thoughts of mom, or mum. This annual SteynOnline podcast is based on my book, A Song for the Season. Many readers have asked whether there's an audio edition available, and the answer is not yet. So, for the moment, this seasonal podcast is the nearest you'll get to an aural flavor of Song for the Season.
My mother died a decade ago: She was Belgian and inclined to observe the occasion on a different date, but nevertheless on Mothering Sunday and/or Mother's Day I find myself thinking of her more than I expected to - which suits the somewhat lugubrious air of some of the songs in this podcast. The "mother song" was a staple of the pop music industry from the late 19th century to the Great War, and in this audio special we'll celebrate examples thereof both enduring and long forgotten - from a range of singers including Al Jolson, Eddy Arnold, Sophie Tucker, John McCormack, Allan Sherman, the Carter Family, Don McLean and (briefly) Abba plus many of the first recording stars of the 78 era. Along the way, we'll explore sub-genres such as Irish mother songs and Jewish mother songs, train songs about mothers and telephone songs about mothers. I'll discuss the mother song that became the big anti-war number of the First World War, and the all-time great stalker-mother song. And, of course, we work our way eventually to "M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means The World To Me)".
After our first broadcast of this special, longtime reader Daniel Hollombe wrote from Los Angeles to object:
I'm sure glad I wasn't alive a hundred years ago. Up until now, I was certain that the Nineties had to be the worst decade of the 20th century for music, but after hearing this hefty sampling of the teens, I'm no longer so sure. As long as I live, I never want to hear another parlor waltz featuring an effete tenor who insists on rolling every 'R' (even the ones that aren't the first letter of the word).
I'm rolling my Rs in anticipation! And in an age of Happy Gestational Parent's Day those rolled Rs are the rolled Rs of counter-rrrrrrrrrrevolutionary defiance.
To listen to our podcast, simply click the button above. And don't forget A Song For The Season anthologises many of our most requested seasonal Songs of the Week, from "Auld Lang Syne" to "White Christmas" via "My Funny Valentine", "Summertime", "Autumn Leaves" and many more. If you're one of our Mark Steyn Club members, don't forget to enter your promo code at checkout to enjoy special member pricing on this book and over 40 other Steyn store products. But, if you can't wait that long, the eBook version can be yours within minutes via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo-Chapters in Canada, and other outlets worldwide.
If you've a favorite mother song or you disagree with Daniel Hollombe on rolled Rs, then let her rrrrrrrrrrrrip below. (If you're not a Club member and you'd like to find out more, see here.)