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Album: Paul SimonReleased: 1972Charted:
Simon wrote this in response to the Jimmy Cliff song "Vietnam," where a mother receives a letter about her son's death on the battlefield. Simon recorded "Mother and Child Reunion" in Jamaica using Cliff's musicians, hence the very authentic sound. Simon said of the song that it "became the first reggae hit by a non-Jamaican white guy outside Jamaica."
Simon came up with the title after seeing a chicken and egg dish called "Mother and Child Reunion" on the menu at 456 Restaurant in Chinatown, New York.
This was Simon's first single as a solo artist.
We can't confirm that Simon wrote the song based on this story, but there are some interesting coincidences. Thanks to Graham from Dorset, England for sending it - here's how he tells it:
In the early 1970s a foster story hit the world headlines from Dorset, England. It was the first time ever that the phrase "Tug Of Love" was used. It was known as the Bridport Foster case, which is where my sister "Jeanette" lived with her foster mother since the age of 6 months old. When the case went to the High Court in London, my sister was 9 years old. I was 13 years old. I have four sisters and three brothers. We were all fostered out to different foster homes. I was in care for over three years. Jeanette was the last to come home. Understandably her foster mother didn't want to give her up after such a long period of time. The case ended in 1972, the same year Paul Simon recorded this massive hit. The whole of my family had to leave Dorchester for our own safety because of the feelings of the general public locally and worldwide. My mother would receive sacks full of mail from around the world every day. In the end she had them delivered to the social services department at county hall In Dorchester because a lot of it was hate mail and she found it too distressing to read. We (myself, my three brothers, three of my four sisters, my mother and step-father) were whisked away in cars driven by social services, hotly pursued by the world press, to a secret location in the North of the county where we lived for 12 months.
Paul Simon was ahead of the trend when he released this reggae-infused song: Johnny Nash went to #1 US later in 1972 with "I Can See Clearly Now
," and Eric Clapton topped the chart with "I Shot The Sheriff
" (a Bob Marley cover) in 1974.