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Mama Kin

by

Aerosmith



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

"Mama Kin" is Steven Tyler's idea of a spiritual force that drives creativity and pleasure. "Keep in touch with Mama Kin" means remembering the desires that drive you to excel.
This was a very early Aerosmith song, and one that helped them get signed to Columbia Records. In 1972, the band had finished a round of touring where they performed this song, and got the deal after Clive Davis of Columbia saw them perform at a New York club called Max’s Kansas City. Steven Tyler had so much confidence in "Mama Kin" that he went to Eddy's tattoo parlor in Providence, Rhode Island and had the words "MA KIN" tattooed on his left bicep beneath a winged heart. He told his bandmates this was the song that was going to make them rich and famous.
Aerosmith used to own a bar near Fenway Park in Boston called Mama Kin's. It was a showcase for live music.
This was one of the songs on Aerosmith's first album that Steven Tyler had the idea for when he formed the band. The song got much more popular years later as their career took off and they included it in their live shows. The album didn't get a lot of promotion when it first came out, in part because Columbia Records was busy promoting Bruce Springsteen's first album.
Guns N' Roses played this at their early shows and covered it on their 1988 live album G'N'R Lies. In the summer of 1988, Guns N' Roses opened for Aerosmith on their Permanent Vacation tour. By the end of the tour, "Sweet Child O' Mine" was the #1 song in America and Guns N' Roses was the hottest band in the land. Aerosmith was peeved when Rolling Stone dismissed them in favor of G N' R for their cover story, but the bands got along very well on the tour, as the Axl Rose and his bandmates showed great respect for their headliners. At the last show on the tour, Aerosmith brought Guns N' Roses on stage for an extended performance of "Mama Kin."
The line, "Sleeping late and smoking tea" was originally written as "Sleeping late in Sunapee," a small New Hampshire town which many of the band members had ties to. (thanks, Martin - Tucson, AZ)
Tyler says that he borrowed the lick from "Mama Kin" from an old Blodwyn Pig song called "See My Way."
The horn solo was played by David Woodward, who toured with the band in their early days.
The lyrics, "Bald as an egg at 18, and working for your daddy's a drag" are a reference to Mark Lehman, who was the band's roadie. Before he quit, Lehman took a lot of abuse for little pay, as Steven Tyler couldn't resist making a dig on him in this song.
Steven Tyler came up with the lyrics using a technique he often used in his early years: he would take some Tuinal pills and scat out sounds into a recorded while Joe Perry played guitar. He would then listen to the playback and add real words to the scat sounds.
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Comments (19):

It was actually Ronnie's Tattoo Studio in Providence, Rhode Island on Eddy Street that the band went to. Not Eddy's tattoo parlor.... and Ronnie is still tattooing.
- Sabrina, providence, RI
Shinedown - pays homage to "mama kin" in cry for help on their cd "the sound of madness" - just sayin' lol... But aerosmith rocks! And enuff of this inner fighting between Steven & Joe (rest of band) - thank you.
- JIMMY, JEFFERSONVILLE, IN, IN
Love it! I like everything on their first record. This is the raw Aerosmith before they relied on outside help from arrangers, songwriters and even studio musician including guitarist to do stuff for them.
- Robert, Waltham, MA
I love this song. In fact, everything on their debut album is a pleasure to listen to. This was when the band was raw and and actually wrote their own music. Unfortunately, over time, Aerosmith fell victim to the "business" of the music industry and other people started writing for them. And this, in my opinion, is when the spark started to fade.
- Randy C., Yonkers, NY
G'n'R aren't worthy to hold 'Smith's guitar straps. 'Smith still rocks after all these years, and make me proud to be from New Hampshire!
- Karen, Manchester, NH
This is by far Aerosmith's greatest song EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you disagree then you obviously haven't heard it.
- Homer, Springfield, KY
The line, "Sleeping late and smoking tea" was originally "Sleeping late in someone's pee" a reference to Perry's bedwetting days on the tour bus.
- Pete, Kansas City, KS
I love this song... my friends and I have named it my theme song!!! BTW my mom told me that in the early 80's she saw Guns N Roses (when they first started out) with Aerosmith (the headliner obviously) and I am insanely jealous!
- Melissa, lorton, VA
great story Myles
- mark, worcester, MI
Out of the 8 times I have seen Aerosmith I have only heard and seen them do this once. It was just after G & R had cut it and was not released yet. They did near the end of their set and invite G & R(they opened for Aerosmith) out to do it with them. The kids next to us asked how did we know the words since it had not been released by G & R yet. We all LOL. I told them this was written before they were even conceived. I told them this older then them maybe even older then their parents. They told your B.S.ing us! LOL So one of the girls in our group explain to them that it was written and done by Aerosmith in the '70's.

Favorite song of all times!! MAMA KIN!
- Myles, Flushing, MI
Guns n' roses version is better? c'mon, obviously these people weren't around in the early 70's to hear Aerosmith at its best! Frank..Dover,NH
- frank, dover, NH
Mama Kin is a great Aerosmith song, one of my personal favorites. Anyone who thinks that Guns'n'Roses' version is better is entitled to their opinion, regardless of how wrong they may be.
- Gordon, Lake Havasu City, AZ
The opening guitar riff on Oh Yeah! for this song is orgasmic.
- Donni, somewhere, WA
Great Song. I have not heard the origional Aerosmith version but I Love the Guns N' Roses version from their CD GN'R Lies. There is also hits Like Patience, Used To Love Her, and the acoustic version of You're Crazy on this album.
- Billy, Boston, MA
Guns N' Roses covered this song pretty well, their version is definitely much better.
- Chris, Zwolle, Netherlands
cool song though i think guns n roses did it better
- maya, cal, United States
i like the songs guitar intro and can play it..i think the cover by guns n roses is good..not great good. this is a good song that represents the free spririt and has a nice 50's like sound to it.
- Jeff, Sothington, CT
I visited Mama Kin's once. They had a band on stage with the worst drummer I've ever seen. I have no idea what they were called, but with a drummer like that they couldn't have gone far.
- Martijn, Helmond, Netherlands
this has a great guitar in it. Aerosmith usally opens with this song now a days.
- austin, charlotte, NC
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