Mother

Album: Danzig (1988)
Charted: 62 43
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Written by lead singer Glenn Danzig, "Mother" is rather vague and cryptic. One interpretation is that Danzig is beginning a descent into something evil, probably Satanism, and his family is concerned. Throughout the song he tells his mother and father to stay away, as he can't be helped, and he's definitely not suitable for children:

    Tell your children not to walk my way
    Tell your children not to hear my words


    In an interview with Big Brother magazine, Danzig offered a rare explanation of his lyrics, claiming the inspiration for "Mother" was Tipper Gore, who as a member of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) pushed for regulations on music she felt was harmful to children. As a result, the record industry agreed to place warning stickers on albums with explicit content. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Helena, MT
  • Glenn Danzig was lead singer of the influential horror-punk band Misfits from 1977-1983. After that band split, he formed a group called Samhain, which morphed into the group Danzig. "Mother" is part of their first album, released in 1988.
  • Rick Rubin, known for his work with LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, and Slayer, produced the Danzig album and released it on his new label, Def American.

    In 1987, Rubin saw Glenn Danzig's band Samhain in concert, and they struck up a deal. When Rubin sat in on a rehearsal, he didn't think Glenn's bandmates were up to snuff. Glenn brought in drummer Chuck Biscuits, but it still wasn't working, so they held auditions and found guitarist John Christ. Samhain bass player Eerie Von stayed on, and the group was christened Danzig.
  • "Mother" found an audience with fans of hardcore music when it was released in 1988, but it cast a much wider net in 1993 when it was remixed by the Louie Brothers and re-released as a single. The remix was marketed as a live recording, but it's essentially the original version of the song with some crowd cheering dubbed in. This was all part of a push by their label, Def American, to market the band to a mainstream rock audience that was suddenly amenable to music that was previously confined to the outer edges. The plan worked: "Mother" actually got some airplay and charted as a single, reaching #43 in March 1994. This was a time when grunge was the dominant subgenre in rock, but stations needed variety, so they stepped outside their comfort zones and ended up with playlists that included Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, The Offspring, and even Danzig.
  • In his songs, Glenn Danzig came off as a man with bad intentions, and his public persona seemed dangerous and a bit nefarious, with no trace of the levity that made the likes of Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne so accessible. Some presumed he was a Satanist, channeling the Devil in songs like "Mother." When the song was re-released in 1993, the group's label, Def American, tried to move the band more to the center by issuing a "Danzig Handbook," the first order of business dispelling the misconception that the band are Satan worshipers. "Some people interpret Danzig's lyrics as being about the devil," it states. The songs are actually about rebelling against authority, whether it's parents, teachers, or the government."

    In the Handbook, he also breaks down "Mother," assuaging concerns any program directors would have over putting it in rotation:

    "I wrote 'Mother' about he PMRC and parents who tell their kids what to listen to. Parents should guide their children, not live their lives for them. Kids should discover life on their own."
  • The original video for "Mother" proved controversial, showing was looks like a Satanic ritual. Following a shot of Glenn Danzig standing on a pentagram, we see him looking over a woman who is strapped to a platform. He holds up a chicken, and she gets spattered with blood. MTV made Danzig edit the video to make it suitable for broadcast; their label sold both versions on VHS.
  • The 1993 re-release came with a live video shot at Danzig's 1992 Halloween show
    This video features live footage from the 10/31/1992 show at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in California. MTV gave the song a boost when they put it on their Buzz Bin compilation album.
  • "Mother" was later included on various hard-rock/heavy metal/alternative music compilations, including the video games Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (where it plays on Radio X) and Guitar Hero II (to which a final solo was added).
  • The cartoon metalheads Beavis and Butt-Head are big fans of this song. At one point when they're watching the video, they wonder what Glenn Danzig does when he's not on stage. "I bet he scores with chicks and fights a lot," Beavis says.
  • American folk rocker Lissie covered this in 2014 for the soundtrack to the Evolve video game.

Comments: 18

  • EricBella down below had it right. Danzig is basically saying that parents should not be overprotective of their children—this includes dictating what children may listen to, who they hangout with/date, etc. I think what throws people off the most is the line, “tell your children not to walk my way.” He doesn’t literally mean walk to him, but rather, walk his path. He is saying to these overprotective parents that they can keep telling their kids what to do, who to listen to, to stay away from people like him, to not date him (or guys like him), etc., but at the end of the day, he will do whatever he pleases anyway.
  • A Man With A PlanJust love it for what it was is.
  • Real Question from CanadaThis appeared on a Canadian mixed cd in the 90s called 'Hard Rock' -does anyone know the whole album list?
  • Lucifer The Light from ErrrrwhereI know Danzig personally. I was the inspiration for the song. It is about the gift I gave those who decide to follow me. If you want to know just ask me and it will be given to you. All knowledge and all truth come from me. Beauty and happiness.
  • Graham from Astral Plane One reason you may think Danzig sounds or reminds you of Jim Morrison and the Doors both talked about death and the darker side of the human psyche also both r rock roll blues type rock although in many ways they r quite different.
  • Anupam from Los Angeles, CaI can hear so much bitterness, and repressed anger in this song. Clearly the singer is rebelling and telling his elders to essentially part ways with him and totally leave him alone - don't try to convince him - don't try to change him - don't share him any of their "light or wisdom" or face his anger ... And if they want to find hell with him , he is not going hold anything back!

  • Alana from Saint Paul, MnThis song is a mixture of being about censoring music and the PMRC stuff happening at the time it was written, as well as how parents are always trying to shelter children and teens far too much. That dark things, and evil are parts of life, metal and rock music are real life, and you cannot try to tell children to simply not see it or hear it. Using examples of the guy taking out the girl and he may be someone like Glenn,and her mother tried to stop her from going.
  • David from London, United KingdomYou know, while there are many interpretations, we can all agree that it's about an unfortunate event that has to do with bringing up or somehow links with his family. Maybe he had underage sex and got a girl pregnant. Maybe he took drugs at some point in his life. He commited robbery, vandalism, or whatever, and is singing to all parents to not let their children 'walk my way' and repeat the same mistakes that he had made. But pretty awesome song though, especially fun hearing it on GTA.
  • Mike from Helena, MtThis song is actually about the Parental Advisory label that the PMRC created in 1985 for music containing content which may be seen as inappropriate. It is a protest song.
  • Timothy Mcgee from Bethesda, MdDanzig does sound like the late Jim Morrison on this song. In "Mother" he is warning that parents should keep their children safe. Danzig is trying to sound "evil" by talking about hell and all that kind of stuff.
  • Khlystimetal from Siberia, Russia FederationIt is obvious, he es evil o he thinks he is evil and prevents mothers and fathers in general that evil is outside, but it is sort of a mocking he does not prevent it for good, it is mocking of overprotective parents
  • Fozzy from Phoenix, AzThe meaning of the lyrics are crystal clear. "Mother" is about coming-of-age. In a world where rites-of-passage no longer exist, the song speaks of a young man coming into his own. He is ready to face the real world and break free of the candy-coated illusion presented by his parents all his life.

    The friction between mother and child can be seen in lines such as "Tell not to hold my hand. Tell your children not to understand." In other lines he declares his independence and dominion, saying, "Father, do you want to bang heads with me? Do you want to feel everything?" This line comes right after declaring, "Gonna take your daughter out tonight:. The meaning here is very clear in that he is taking someone's virgin daughter out on a date and intends to make her a woman, or in other words "show her my world".
  • Chuck from Kewaskum, WiWhat I got from the song is different than everything here. I think that it's kinda saying that you can say all you want about how I live my life and you can go ahead and call me evil and a sinner for my choices, but it's just as much of a sin to hide your children from the truth and not allow them to choose God, your life style or whatever. "Not about to see your light, and if you wanna find hell with me, I can show oyu what it's like"
  • Bella from Pretoria, --The vocals remind me a lot of The Doors.Sounds like Jim Morrison put in a different band.
  • Billy from Cresco, PaThe song is badass either way.
  • Byron from San Antonip, TxWhat its really about is he is a badass and he want the good girl,(gona take your daughter out tonight) the dad of the girl doesn't want it to happen and he will fight him for her( wana bang heads with me) he is bad and corrupted so he warns other parents to keep other away from him ....kinda reminds me of the 1950's guys who rode Motorcycles being hard asses swooping up the cheerleader girls away from the quater backs
  • Jeff from Austin, TxThe lyrics to this song are pretty vague, but like all Danzig's songs, it's evil as well as vague. This song is basically about innocent children being seduced by something or someone evil. Whether it's Satan himself, or just a guy trying to score with some chick. It's just referring to the loss of innocence.
  • Bella from PretoriaI got the idea that it's about someone else's parents that are overprotective about their children knowing him,("gonna take your daughter out tonight","tell your children not to walk my way,...hear my words" etc),rather than Cristian's fact.Hey,I'm the first person to comment here,I'm honored.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Music Video Director David Hogan

Music Video Director David HoganSong Writing

David talks about videos he made for Prince, Alabama, Big & Rich, Sheryl Crow, DMB, Melissa Etheridge and Sisters of Mercy.

David Paich of Toto

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine

The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary MachineSong Writing

Fiona's highly-anticipated third album almost didn't make it. Here's how it finally came together after two years and a leak.

Chris Frantz of Talking Heads

Chris Frantz of Talking HeadsSongwriter Interviews

Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz on where the term "new wave" originated, the story of "Naive Melody," and why they never recorded another cover song after "Take Me To The River."

Second Wind Songs

Second Wind SongsSong Writing

Some songs get a second life when they find a new audience through a movie, commercial, TV show, or even the Internet.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.