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"Mother" is a song by English musician John Lennon, first released on his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. An edited version of the song was issued as a single in the United States on Apple Records, on 28 December 1970. The single runs about 1:41 shorter than the album due to a lack of the tolling bells intro and a quicker fadeout. The B-side features "Why" by Yoko Ono. The song peaked in the US at number 19 on the Cashbox Top 100 and number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Mother" is actually a cry to both his parents, who abandoned him in his childhood. His father, Alf, left the family when John was an infant. His mother, Julia, didn't live with her son, although they had a good relationship; she was hit and killed in a car accident on 15 July 1958 by a drunk off-duty policeman named Eric Clague, when Lennon was 17.
"Mother" opens the album, starting with a funeral bell tolling slowly, four times.
Lennon was inspired to write the song after undergoing primal therapy with Dr Arthur Janov, originally at their home at Tittenhurst Park and then at the Primal Institute, California, where they remained for four months. Lennon, who eventually derided Janov, initially described the therapy as "something more important to me than The Beatles."
Although Lennon said that "Mother" was the song that "seemed to catch in my head", he had doubts about its commercial appeal and he considered issuing "Love" as a single instead. "Love" was eventually released as a single in 1982.
Barbra Streisand recorded "Mother" (as well as Lennon's "Love") on her 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand; it was released as a single as well. The song also featured on Lennon's live album Live in New York City, released by Yoko Ono after his death. Other songs born out of this period of therapy include "Working Class Hero" and "Isolation". Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Mother video game series, stated in an interview that this song was in large part the inspiration for his naming of the series. Mia Martini recorded in 1972 this song in Italian, with the title literally translated as "Madre". Maynard Ferguson recorded the song on his 1972 album M.F. Horn Two. South African artist Ratau Mike Makhalemele covered the song on an EP of Lennon covers in 1990.  Shelby Lynne covered this song for her 2001 album Love, Shelby, with the added resonance of her tragic family history. (Lynne's father, an abusive alcoholic, shot and killed her mother and then himself when Lynne was 17.) Christina Aguilera covered the song in 2007 for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, and Emmanuel Jal's version was available on that album as an iTunes exclusive bonus track.
The musicians who performed on the original recording were as follows:
(John plays guitar rather than piano on the Nowhere Boy demo version)