mom rock- chiller vibes

by elizaligon

You may have heard of Dad Rock. The phrase first arose in 2007 as a harsh review of Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky.” The saying was meant to express the album’s uncomplicated passivity in the eyes of the critic. Within the genre of Dad Rock, one sees a myriad of subgenres, some of which are more paternal than others. (Wilco is the zenith of domesticity in Dad Rock, but maybe the Eagles better capture the whole “male aggression” in Dad Rock.) The term “Dad Rock” has spun an entire genre, but what about moms? 

I introduce: Mom Rock

Like Dad Rock, Mom Rock is the point of convergence between a nostalgia for youth and the contentment of wisdom due to age. As compared to Dad Rock, there’s less masculine angst and fewer scary drugs like heroin– more expressions of emotional strength and acceptable intoxicants like wine– in Mom Rock. Here are a couple of examples of Mom Music: Ten Thousand Maniacs, Prince, the Sundays, Lauryn Hill, the Indigo Girls, Kate Bush.

Ten Thousand Maniacs is a group that provides moms with the power that they may feel they have lost in the years since the birth of their children. I have to imagine that after you’ve been torn from hole to hole, only Natalie Merchant’s lyrics about the Divine Feminine can soothe the pain. 

Prince reminds moms of when they were young and hot. Did you know that Prince was playing when your mom did anal for the first time? Prince really can do anything. (…including your mom.)

The Sundays, a 90s alt-pop band, featured Harriet Wheeler’s crystalline voice, narrating heartfelt tales of life and love. Theoretically based upon Wheeler’s own experiences, songs like “Hideous Towns” tell a story of a girl trying to find a place as a woman in this world. “I Kicked a Boy” articulates a theme seen throughout the album, in which the speaker outsmarted or otherwise overcame the power of a man in her life. The chorus echoes with “I kicked a boy ‘till he cried. I could’ve been wrong, but I don’t think I was…” In 1995, Wheeler and another band member, David Gavurin, settled down and popped out some spawn. 1997 saw the release of the band’s third and final album, “Static and Silence,” which reflects on the speaker’s past and present. Songs like “Leave This City” and “I Can’t Wait” tell stories of a woman growing into a more mature role, but this transformation occurs through the death of some other part of herself– the imagery is overwhelmed by “flowers decayed” and a “boarded up cinema.” 

sophie spencer

Maybe her art should be categorized as “Mom Rap,” but it would be a disservice to the audience to ignore the ingenious contributions of Ms. Lauryn Hill towards the artistic theme of feminine strength, often expressed through motherhood. Ms. Hill’s most famous song about motherhood was titled “To Zion.” The biblical term “Zion” can refer to the city or the Temple of Jerusalem. In giving this name to her son, she shows that he has provided her with a calling higher than herself. Motherhood does this for some people, while others find their meanings in religion, or career. In Ms. Hill’s case, she seems to see motherhood as her God-given duty. She thanks both God and her son for “choosing [her], to come through unto life to be a beautiful reflection of His grace.” Here, Ms Hill reiterates that she sees motherhood as her sacred duty. … I wish my mom loved me half as much. 

The Indigo Girls probably came to mind with the words “Mom Rock.” The Indigo Girls are quintessential Mom Rock. They assess spirituality, and although they do so through a heavily Christian lens, they still have some solid ideas embedded in there. “Closer to Fine” is a song that will make many moms lose their shit. This song recounts the speaker’s quest for balance and meaning in an indefinite world. As one harmonizes along, one is reminded not to take life too seriously. Perhaps this is the lesson that we should take from Parent Rock of all kinds– “it’s only life, after all.”

Categories: eliza ligon, march 9 2021, tunes

%d bloggers like this: