Friday on My Mind: Happy Mother’s Day!

the mother of all hymns, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," Julia Ward Howe

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind, the weekly collaboration between KEXP and King 5 news where we look at videos focused around one central topic. Today we are thinking about Moms.

Mother’s Day in the U.S. had its first incarnation in 1870 and was spearheaded by Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the poem that became the lyrics of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. One could make the argument that motherhood is a battle or if you were Pat Benetar you could argue that love is actually a battle field but that’s for a different day.

So back to Howe, she was an early activist for women’s rights and in response to the atrocities of the Civil War she proposed the idea of a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in which she asked all mothers to rise in protest to the death and carnage overtaking their sons during the Civil War. This was truly an amazing idea that was thoughtful and protested the needless death of our youth in war. So of course, the observation and celebration of Howe’s vision of Mother’s Day fizzled out by the end of the 1800’s due to lack of funding.

Anna Jarvis picked up where Howe left off in 1908. When Jarvis’s mother passed away, she petitioned for an official Mother’s Day as an act of remembrance for her mother. The first celebration of this incarnation of Mother’s Day took place at Jarvis’s mother’s West Virginia church and every mother who attended was given 2 carnations. Four years later, West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t until 1914 that Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May the official observance of Mother’s Day. The tradition of giving carnations to mothers had stuck from that first Mother’s Day because its such a great way to celebrate Mom’s both here and gone and its success was based in the pure good of this gesture right? Of course not! Giving carnations was seen as an excellent money making opportunity for the flower industry. Jarvis did not approve and vehemently opposed and protested any commercialization of the day and was ignored because….well because that’s what we do. Sadly, Jarvis never became a mother herself and she died poor and blind in 1948. In a twist of irony, the Florist’s Exchange paid for her medical care at the end of her life unbeknownst to her. I’m not sure she’d be happy to have learned that nor do I think she’d like what has happened since then, as it’s a major commercial holiday. But just like most holidays the best bet is to focus on the pure and noble part of the holiday (if there is one) and in this case its Mom’s! Call her, talk to her, have a meal with her and if you’ve lost her, miss her on this day.

LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out

Ladies Love Cool J. His Mama told him to knock you out. Sorry, competition’s payin’ the price and nothing says Mother’s Day like LL telling you to watch him bash this beat like a skull and that the maniac psycho is pulling out his jammy. It screams Hallmark! Dear Mom,
Old English fill my mind and I came up with this funky rhyme, Shotgun blasts are heard, When I rip and kill at will. I love you, Happy Mother’s Day.

Rolling Stones - Mother’s Little Helper

Nothing says Mother’s Day like…Mom’s taking DRUGS! Let’s face it, if you’re the mother of any of the Rolling Stones you will need a little yellow pill to help you through the day..unless Keith Richards already took em all of course.


Madness - Our House

This one might not have Mom in the title but speaks to the day to day a mother faces in the classic Madness tune “Our House”:

“Mother’s tired she needs a rest, The kids are playing up downstairs, Our mum she’s so house-proud, Nothing ever slows her down. And a mess is not allowed, Father gets up late for work, Mother has to iron his shirt, Then she sends the kids to school, Sees them off with a small kiss, She’s the one they’re going to miss, In lots of ways Our house, in the middle of our street.”


Honorable Mentions

No commentary necessary here. Let the video speak for itself.

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