Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tracy Bonham -- "Mother Mother" (1996)

I'm freezing
I'm starving

This song didn't pop up on either of my magic iPods.  Apparently, the rental cars at the Kansas City airport have magic radios.

I can't believe this song was released 15 years ago.  That's very depressing. 

Tracy Bonham grew up in Oregon and received a violin scholarship from USC.  But she moved to Boston to enroll in the Berklee College of Music and study voice instead.  She was only 19 when she released her first album, The Burdens of Being Upright.  "Mother Mother" was the first single from that album, and went to hit #1 on the Billboard "Modern Rock Tracks" chart.  Bonham released several subsequent albums, none of which ever came to my attention.

As far as 2 or 3 lines is concerned, Tracy Bonham was put on earth for one reason only: to record "Mother Mother."  She probably would take exception to that -- I'm sure it makes her angry that no one knows any of the other songs she's recorded.  Better to be a one-hit wonder than a no-hit nonwonder, I always say.

Just in case you don't know the story behind this song, let me briefly summarize it for you.  The singer is a young woman who is making an obligatory, just-checking-in telephone call to her mother.  She has moved out of her parents' house and now lives somewhere far away, and naturally her mother is concerned about her.  (It's easy to imagine that the singer is Bonham herself, calling from cold, cruel Boston to her mom back in Oregon.) 

The singer assures her mother that she is working hard and is hopeful that success is just around the corner.  There are hints that the young woman may have been a bit wild when she was living at home, but she promises that she is sticking to the straight and narrow. 

The daughter's matter-of-fact facade starts to crumble pretty quickly.  "Life is perfect, never better," she says -- but is it really?  It seems not, because the singer admits that she's just telling her mother "what [you] want to hear" so mom will "sleep well at night."

Tracy Bonham in 2010
I LOVE it when all hell breaks lose in a song.  And hell definitely breaks loose at this point of "Mother Mother."  In fact, I'm not sure hell has ever broken looser in a song.

In reality, the daughter is hungry, she's dirty, she's LOSING HER MIND!  She's freezing, she's starving, she's BLEEDING TO DEATH, EVERYTHING'S FINE!   

If you're a guy, just imagine that you met the singer at a party and she's invited you back to your place for a nightcap.  You open the bottle of wine that you picked up on the way over, pour two glasses, and sit down next to her.  She smells good, and she's got a great little body.  You're picking up a little bit of a crazy-chick vibe from her, but that's not all bad -- crazy girls can be hot.

You're about ready to make a move when she says she needs to call her mother, just for a minute.  That's cool, you tell her -- hey, there's no hurry. 

The first part of the call is the usual mother-daughter stuff.  But then -- completely out of nowhere -- you get "I'm BLEEDING TO DEATH, EVERYTHING'S FINE!

Glenn Close
Suddenly she's not crazy hot, she's crazy scary -- you know, Glenn-Close-boiling-a-pet-rabbit-in-Fatal-Attraction crazy. 

So what do you do now?  The smart thing, of course, would be to tell her you're not feeling well, call a cab, and get the hell out of there -- breathing a sigh of relief that she doesn't know your last name or where you live. 

So do you do that?  Of course you don't!  You're a guy, after all -- and you've had a few drinks.  

They produced two music videos for "Mother Mother."  One of them is fairly lighthearted -- Bonham doesn't really mean all that crazy stuff, she's just playing around:

The other one is a bit more surreal:

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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