Discussion: Mother’s Day Songs

Well, it’s Mother’s Day. In country music, though, it should probably be called Mama’s Day. At any rate, country music, like rap music, is fond of covering the topic of mothers.

As a daughter, my ultimate favorite song about mamas is Patty Loveless’ “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye.” In this song, we find a loving mother who supports her daughter through some of the most heartbreakingly challenging times in her life, the times when one is forced to say goodbye. First, the daughter must say goodbye to a childhood friend due to a move. Instead of minimizing her young daughter’s feelings of sadness and loss, the mother consoles her and asks, “How Can I help You to say Goodbye?” She assures her that it’s “Okay to hurt/it’s okay to cry.” Then she puts those all important verbs into her sentences by saying, “Come, let me hold you and I will try/How can I help you to say goodbye.”

When the same daughter is a grown adult, the first person she calls when her marriage dissolves is her mother, because past experience tells her that Mama will know how to help her begin to say goodbye to her failed marriage without judgment.

Finally, we come to the clincher. Mama, the one who has so expertly helped her daughter through all of her sad goodbyes is, now, saying goodbye. With her final words, she says: “Time will ease your pain/Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same/…How can I help you to say goodbye?/It’s OK to hurt, and it’s OK to cry/Come, let me hold you and I will try/How can I help you to say goodbye?”

When Patty Loveless recorded this song, she had to record it three times before she could sing it without beginning to cry. Nonetheless, the final recording still appropriately captures her deep emotions. After all of these years, this song still appeals to my emotions as well, which, to me, is a testament of a superb song.

So, there you have it…my favorite Mother’s Day song.  What’s yours and why?


  1. This is a great discussion topic! When I saw the headline, my first instinct was “Ooh! How Can I Help You Say Goodbye!”

    So I’m thinking of some others.

    Kathy Mattea/Cheryl Wheeler, “Further and Further Away”

    Rick Trevino, “Looking For the Light”

    Dixie Chicks, “Lullaby” and “Godspeed”

  2. My mother passed away recently. One of our favorite songs was the Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces.” It came out soon after I left for college and it was a theme song of ours. I went away to school and my parents drove cross-country to drop me off and move me into my dorm. I was their youngest and the only girl. It was tough on them, but they were proud of me. My dad – who said “don’t forget to check the oil” more times than I can count – later told me that my mom cried for hours after they left. So, Natalie, yep, everyone know’s exactly what you’re “talking about.” Everyone leaves home eventually, your parents just have to hope they gave you the strength to spread your wings and recover from your big mistakes. My mom did, and I’ll always be proud of her.

    HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the wonderful mom’s out there!!

    (The Patty Loveless song is also beautiful. I haven’t heard that one in a long time!)

  3. “wide open spaces” and “godspeed” by the dixie chicks for sure

    “don’t forget to remember me” (still makes me teary if my mom is with me when its on)

    also great patty loveless song, i haven’t heard that in forever

  4. “how can you help me to say goodbye” is my favorite too
    i also love “somebody’s hero” by jamie o’neal
    and”mama knows” by shenandoah

  5. Lynn,

    I knew a lot of girls in college who related to “Wide Open Spaces” the same way, though the girls a bit older than them (the ones I entered with in 1997) had Suzy Bogguss’ “Letting Go” as their leaving home song.

    Strangely enough, for my mom it was “Love Travels”, the Kathy Mattea song which came out the year I left for college (900 miles away from home.) Now, when she hears that song she connects it to my dad’s death.

  6. Jimmy Dean’s “IOU” is the quintessential Mothers Day song – it sold millions of copies and charted in several different years. If you can listen to this song without choking up a little, you need to check your pulse

    Jimmy Rodgers “Mother The Queen of My Heart” is a good song to remember mothers with , too

  7. I’d rank Elizabeth Cook’s “Mama’s Prayers” off of her recent “Balls” CD as a great song honoring the love and concern of a mother towards her child. It is just a great traditional country song, and about as good as it gets in my book. Elizabeth also honors Mom with “Mama, You Wanted to be a Singer Too” on both her indie self-titled debut and her label debut “Hey Y’All” CDs.

    Iris Dement’s song (and Sunny Sweeney’s great cover) “Mama’s Opry” is also a great song to honor her Mom. Great stuff…….

  8. I have to say “Letting Go” by Suzy Boggus and “In my Daughters Eye’s” by Martina are two of my favorites – and another that I like but may not be if you have the best relationship with your mom, but it sometimes describes my relationship with my mom “Between a Mother and A Child” by Chely Wright — the first time I heard it made me think of my relationship with my mother.

  9. Somebody’s hero by Namie O’Neal is great, and I love In my Daughter’s Eyes, by Martina McBride. You’ll always be my baby is also really good (By Sara Evans.) As well as Pray For You.

  10. I’m with Lanibug; Julie Roberts’ “The Chance” is probably my all-time favorite. But somebody has to mention Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” (can’t relate to it all having never been incarcerated myself, but what a terrific song). Besides that, I love the aspects of motherhood Loretta Lynn highlights in songs like “Family Tree” and “One’s On The Way.” And recently I’m really fond of Lady Antebellum’s “Home Is Where The Heart Is,” even if it’s more than a little cliche-ridden.

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