We all know Genesis is one of those bands with lyrics that simply make you want to cry, and ‘Mama’ is no other exception. This song has lyrics that make your hair stand on it’s ends. Mike Rutherford suggested that a psychedelic tune be added to this song, and it did wonders to it. Phil Collins is seen in a completely different perspective. From the man who sang the slow and wonderful ‘Another Day in Paradise’ to the harsh vocals in ‘Mama’, he has made a brilliant transition. So let’s get to it!
History: ‘Mama’ was the first single from Genesis’ 1983 self – titled album. The song peaked at #4 in the UK charts, and made it in the Top 10 in Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Ireland and the Netherlands (Whew!). Unfortunately (As fate would call it), it didn’t hit the bull’s eye in the US and in Germany. It peaked at a maximum of #73 in Billboard’s Hot 100, and #39 in Germany’s Top 40. The song has three variants, the 6 minute 48 seconds Album Version, the 5 minutes 19 seconds Single Version, and the 7 minute 27 seconds ‘Extended’ Version, which I will be reviewing today. This version has the famous Phil Collins’ (ha ha… oow).
What it tries to convey to us: First of all, I would like to clear the air about the meaning of this song. There is a HUGE debate ongoing on some site (I think it’s http://www.songmeanings.net). One of the groups say it’s about a baby (still in the mother’s fetus), who pleads the mother not to perform an abortion, and give him a second chance, so that he may see the outside world for real. The other group says it’s about the serious overtones of a boy who has just passed out from cadet college. He doesn’t have a mother, as she passes away at a young age. So anyways, one day he’s strolling down the street when he meets a prostitute who shockingly resembles the likes of his mother. He talks to her and tries to make their relationship a genuine mother – son one. But as it turns out, the prostitute can’t do so; even though she loves him to bits. Even though the latter argument is the ‘REAL’ meaning of the song, I personally prefer the former one. It has a LOT more meaning. I mean, just imagine; a baby who’s still in his/her mother’s womb, pleads the mother not to perform an abortion, and give him/her a second chance so that he/she might see the real light of the day. Doesn’t it just make you shiver? If you listen to the song with the meaning I like, you’ll surely love it. Doesn’t “It’s hot, too hot for me Mama” or “My eyes, they’re burning Mama; and I can feel my body shake ” make more sense when the first meaning is considered? Personally, it’s one of my ‘Most-Played’ collection.
Review: The song begins with the legendary ‘harsh drum machine’ which was suggested by Mike Rutherford (The founder of Genesis). The psychedelic tune (It’s actually a minimalist synthesizer line in minor keys) starts at 00:24. At first, the tune isn’t catchy. But it will catch on in the latter part of the song. The tune is made so that you actually feel claustrophobic (Seriously, close your eyes and try to visualize it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Phil Collins starts the vocals at 01:04. The vocals he has given to the song add an extra dose of eeriness to the song. The lyrics are totally mesmerizing. If you listen to the song in the baby’s perspective (Yes, I know I keep mentioning that), the experience of the song will increase ten times. Phil Collins steps up the intensity at 01:53, and then the lyrics “You listen, you teach me Mama, and I know inside you care” shake you up completely. Then at 02:42, he begins his “ha ha… oww”. From 02:42 to 03:17, the tune changes completely. It becomes monotonous, but it greatly accentuates Phil Collins’ (What I call) ‘laughter’. At 03:22, he brings the song up to a greater tempo, but still lower than the actual pace of the song. After a few of his trademark “ha ha.. oow’s” from 04:11 to 04:17, the song goes temporarily to instrumental, before it resurfaces to the original tempo at 04:26. Then at 06:05, the “Don’t go” loop is initiated. It just adds so much intensity to the song. Then at 07:07, the song begins to fade gradually and ends at 07:28. What did we learn from this song? That Genesis rocks!
Rating: Why give this song a low rating, when it has a beautiful psychedelic tune, harsh beats, eerie vocals and armor piercing lyrics? So, a 10/10 its is!!
Lyrics for ‘Mama’ : http://artists.letssingit.com/genesis-lyrics-mama-6l8v3bh
Download link for ‘Mama’ : http://www.giantpanther.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Genesis-Mama.mp3 (Right- click anywhere, click ‘Save as’)