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Mama Told Me Not to Come

by

Three Dog Night



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

This was written by Randy Newman, the son of Academy Award-winning composer Lionel Newman. It is about a party that left a "bad taste" in the writer's mouth. The drug scene was fairly new to American middle-class youth at that time.
This song has the distinction of being the very first #1 hit on the American Top 40 syndicated radio program. The show, hosted by Casey Kasem, became popular on AM radio throughout the world until its decline in the mid-1990s. This beat out The Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road" (their last hit record before the final breakup) and Elvis Presley's "The Wonder of You" for top chart honors in early August, 1970. (thanks, Charles - Charlotte, NC, for above 2)
Newman's original version was included on his 1970 album 12 Songs. His version was only 2 minutes 12 seconds, over a minute shorter than Three Dog Night's version.
Cory Wells was the Three Dog Night band member who pushed to record this. He was a big fan of the song and played it with his previous band. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Wilson Pickett's 1972 cover made #99 in the US.
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Comments (24):

The discordant keyboard note the song ends with is the perfect touch.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
You all are wrong, the song "Mama told me not to come" is a double on tundra on a sexual act that is pretty funny when you take it in the context of the actual song. The lyrics "That ain't no way to have fun - son!" ,"I'm looking at my girlfriend, she just passed out on the floor" and "That ain't no way to have fun - ah no no! (maybe I should have listened) . Yes because he got his girlfriend pregnant and that is no way to have fun, mama told me not to "c*m" It's the same thing with the song "Along comes Mary" which is a song about marijuana. So the artist just hides the truth about the song with a double on tundra to get it played on the radio. How many parents would have allowed their kids to buy the song on a 45 single if they real knew the real meaning of the song or it was written as it intended on the record label. It's a real funny song if you listen to it as a sexual double on tundra. He sings over and over again "Mama told me not to come" "Mama told me not to come" with the counter 'Mama told me She said She said". In my opinion they are going to some kind of orgy or a porn video in the making , because it's the "craziest party, there could ever be" with drugs and alcohol and that's how she ended up"passed out on the floor"
- john , Wilkes Barre, PA
This song , in my estimation, rates in the top 10 songs from the 1970's
- Rick, Belfast, ME
I once heard a story about this song - I think it was many years ago on the Casey Kasem show - that when they were doing the studio recording, they were looking for a specific echo effect and were not coming up with it. During a break, one of the band members was in the bathroom and noticed the echo in there was what they were looking for! The rest as they say is now history - J
- John, Kirkland, WA
Some people get the notion that Three Dog Night were the among the good boys of rock and roll when listening to this song when in actuality they were among the most notorious druggies.
- Erik, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Eric Burdon's version is really good. The Eric Is Here album was actually recorded in Detroit, so the song, in general, has a definite Motown feel to it.
- Adam, West Palm Beach, FL
At a recent Three Dog Night concert, Cory stopped in the middle of this song, put on a ball cap turned sideways, threw on some gold chains and began singing a rap version of Mama Told Me. It really got the crowd going.
- Wayne, Crockett, TX
Yes Donna Summer sang backing vocals !
- Rockie, Oregon City, OR
Gotta be one of the most awesome rockers of the early 70s.........definately one of the greats!!
- Tim, Livonia, MI
I never saw it as an anti-drug lyric and I don't believe it was meant that way. I interpret it as being about the bad karma / paranoia that can arise from attending the wrong parties with the wrong people while on the wrong substances.
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
Ahh, I love this song... this was the theme song of my high school class. You can interpret that however you like... (laugh)
- Jameson, Lexington, KY
I think this is like a number of songs of the era that ostensibly warned against drug use but whose appeal ironically stemmed largely from exploiting the intrigue and curiousity surrounding drugs in the young audience of the day.
- fyodor, Denver, CO
On the album Eric Is Here, Eric Burdon, formerly of The Animals, does a version of this song. I haven't heard it though. :-(
- Jonathan, Stamford, CT
Just get the Randy Newman version. All cover versions are inferior. But praise to Three Dog Night for doing it a bit differently to RN. And remember that the Tom Jones / Stereophonics cover of the cover was recorded thirty five years after TDN's version. The production values aren't that much better, considering. And Randy Newman did the music for 'Toy Story', 'The Natural', 'Three Amigos' etc. besides being one of the best songwriters of the last 50 years. Get 'Lonely at the Top' as a sort of best-of, of look for 'Good Ol' Boys' or 'Little Criminals' for some excellent albums. P.s. he has a wicked sense of humour.
- Mark, Hereford, England
This is the first time I read about other versions. I only knew/know Three Dog Night, and I can't imagine Tom Jones did a better job...

TDN rules! btw: I found a couple of errors in the text posted here. Could it be that the bit about
"a hostess not lastin'" comes from another version? Once again, I prefer the girlfriend passed out on the floor!
- cris, lelystad, Netherlands
I've heard both, and personally, I liked the Stereophonics/Tom Jones version better. I think their voices sound fine.
- Mike, North Vancouver, Canada
Can anyone confirm that Donna Summer made her debut on backing vocals on this song?
- Edward Pearce, Ashford, Kent, England
Tom Jones and the Stereophonics' remake was not different, it was a carbon copy of the original, from the intro right up to the end. Kelly Jones and Tom Jones voices simply aren't suited to this type of song.
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
tom jonjes butchered this song, end off#
- michael, Sutton Coldfield, England
Tom Jones and Stereophonics' Version was not appalling, just differant. I have heard both versions, and I think that the Stereophonics has more feeling, and a better, more rounded sound.
- Nick, Cambridge, England
Tom Jones and Stereophonics went to UK #4 in 1999 with an absoultely appalling cover of this song, and shortly afterwards Three Dog Night's versions was sampled on some dance tune (can't remember it's name). 3DN's only other UK hit was "Joy To The World", which climbed to #24 in 1973.
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
One of my favourite songs to rock out to! ...I'm really suprised the beat the Beatles' The Long And Winding Road, I never knew that. Anyway, this song rules!
- Mia, Elk River, MN
Randy is the nephew of Lionel Newman,he also wrote the song for all the height challenged people" Short People"
- Bill Crawford, Oro Valley, AZ
Randy Newman is a terrific songwriter ! He also has done the theme to the USA Network show, MONK (which stars Tony Shalhoub!)
- Janetlee, Panama City, FL
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