It's Mother's Day - in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various other places, that is. In the British Isles and Nigeria, Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent, which was a few weeks back - and probably canceled by lockdown, who can recall? On this Mother's Day the very concept is in jeopardy. Under the accelerating transanity, the preferred designation of allegedly respected institutions 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 mom 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.
Still, until civil war or a regime of supreme ayatollahs resolves these issues, for old-fashioned types around much of the world today, a young lad's heart naturally turns to thoughts of mom, or mum. Each Mother's Day is always for some the first Mother's Day without mother - and today, for rather more in too many countries, this will be the second Mother's Day in which mother is beyond reach, quarantined from loved ones by order of the state. And, if you like to take your mum to church of this Mother's Day morning, well, tough: in Jason Kenney's Alberta, they just took down the pastor.
This annual SteynOnline podcast is based on my book A Song For The Season, personally autographed copies of which, for you or your gestational parent, are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore. It's also out in eBook - for details see below. 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 seven years ago: She was Belgian and we observed the occasion on a different date, but nevertheless on 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, "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier", and the all-time great stalker-mother song, "And Her Mother Came Too". 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 in 2014, 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 anthologizes 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 - and on this third anniversary of The Mark Steyn Club, if you're one of our 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.)