Mother-In-Law

Album: Mother-in-Law (1961)
Charted: 29 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • K-Doe's real name: Ernest Kador. Born in 1936, he remained a popular singer and radio personality in New Orleans until his death in 2001. While best known as a singer, K-Doe was also an accomplished drummer.

    The song plays on the stereotype of the meddling mother-in-law who feels the man who married her daughter isn't good enough for her. Most songs of this nature would be labeled "novelty" records, but K-Doe's sincere delivery kept that tag off the song in most publications.
  • This song was written by Allen Toussaint, who was Ernie K-Doe's producer. Toussaint came up with the song when he was playing piano in his family's living room, messing around with bits of a song he had heard from the gospel group the Harmonizing Four. Trying to think up lyrics, he came up with the title and quickly fabricated the story about a guy who is put though hell by his mother-in-law.

    Toussaint didn't have a mother-in-law at the time - he was single - but he kept hearing comedians making mother-in-law jokes on TV, so he knew it would get a reaction. Toussaint says that his grandmother was horrified when she heard it, but forgave him later.
  • The bass singer on this track who repeats the "mother-in-law" refrain was Benny Spellman. The success of this song caused a running argument between K-Doe and bass singer Spellman as to who was responsible for the hit. Spellman prevailed upon Toussaint to write a song for him to record, "Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)." When Spellman recorded it, K-Doe sang backup vocals.
  • Allen Toussaint thought Ernie K-Doe would be a good fit for this song, since Ernie was known as a showman, and for making outrageous self-promotional statements. K-Doe claimed that this song "will last to the end of the Earth, because someone is always going to get married."
  • This was by far the biggest hit for K-Doe, whose other chart entries were "Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta" (#53, 1961), "I Cried My Last Tear" (#69, 1961), "A Certain Girl" (#71, 1961) and "Popeye Joe" (#99, 1962). His 1970 song "Here Come The Girls!" was sampled by the Sugababes for their 2008 UK hit "Girls."
  • In 1994, K-Doe opened a bar and music venue in New Orleans called "The Mother-in-Law Lounge" with his wife Antionette. After Ernie died in 2001, Antionette kept the venue alive, preserving Ernie's memory with a fully costumed, look-alike mannequin of the singer. The lounge was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but reopened a year later. Antionette K-Doe died of a heart attack on February 24, 2009, which was the day of Mardi Gras.
  • K-Doe claimed that he fished the song out of Allen Toussaint's trash can and recorded it because he related strongly to its sentiments: his mother-in-law was living in his house at a time of marital turmoil. In our interview with Toussaint, he explained what happened: "I wrote four songs for him to do, because we always recorded four songs at a time, and 'Mother-In-Law' was one of them. When I tried it out on him the first time, he began to shout and preach at it and I really didn't like his approach to it. I thought it was a waste of time to try to get him to do it, so I balled it up and put it in the trash can, like I did with other songs. One of the backup singers, Willie Harper, thought it was just a wonderful song, so he took it out of the trash can and said, 'K-Doe, why don't you calm down and listen closer to the way Allen is doing it and try to do it like that? This is a good song.' So he calmed down and didn't preach at it, but did it like it finally came out."
  • This song was recorded in New Orleans at J&M Studios, which was also where Little Richard and Fats Domino recorded. Allen Toussaint was a regular at the studio, sometimes recording his own material, but usually doing session work.
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Comments: 8

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaScott am pretty sure the lyric is Satan should be her name.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 21st 1961, Ernie K-Doe, along with Jimmy Jones & Freddie Scott, performed at the Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA...
    At the time his "Mother-In-Law" was at #3 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; one month and one day later on May 22nd, 1961 it would peak at #1* {for 1 week} and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on April 18th, 1961 it also peaked at #1 {for 5 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    * Prior to reaching #1 on the Top 100 chart, it spent three weeks at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was "Runaway" by Del Shannon, then "Runaway" dropped to #2 when "Mother-In-Law" took over the top spot...
    R.I.P. to Ernie K-Doe, born Ernest Kador, Jr., {1936 - 2001} and to Mr. Shannon, born Charles Weedon Westover, {1934 - 1990}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyBenny Spellman passed away on June 3rd 2011 at the age of 79...
    As stated above he was the bass singer on Ernie K-Doe's #1 hit in 1961, "Mother-In-Law", and sang the words 'mother-in-law' on the record...
    He had one Top 100 record of his own, "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)", it stayed on the chart for six weeks in 1962, peaking at #80...
    May Mr. Spellman R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn 1961 there was two answer songs released; Louise Brown's version of 'Son-In-Law' peaked at No. 76. Then The Blossoms released a complete different version and that peaked at No. 79!!!

    76/61 SON-IN-LAW by LOUISE BROWN
    79/61 SON-IN-LAW by THE BLOSSOMS
  • Scott from Bethlehem, PaThe posted lyrics include the line "Sin Should be her name..."
    when you listen to it on Ernie's remake album, it sounds like "Satan should be her name...."
  • Sandy from Wellington, FlGreat lyrics -- I've been there!
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is funny! I guess some people feel that way though.
  • Frank from Westminster, ScI must have married his sister in law.
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