Elton John recently lost his mother, expressing his sincere grief through social media. Shortly after learning that news, it came up again while I was standing in line at the local grocery store.
The woman in front of me commented on my shirt, which featured a picture of The Beatles as they appeared on the cover of the Abby Road album. I thanked her, as I began loading my items onto the counter.
She then told me she had heard that Elton John's mother had passed away, a statement that I affirmed. I silently hoped that the customer in front of me had not mistaken Sir Elton as a member of the Fab Four, while she suggested that the radio stations should play that song he had written for his mother.
Instead of trying to ascertain to which song she was alluding, I simply smiled and said that I agreed with her. My instinct had been to remind her that Elton John could not have written a song to his mother, for he mostly contributed just the music for his songs.
Bernie Taupin was the man who wrote the lyrics for most of the tunes, sort of the Oscar Hammerstein to Elton's Richard Rodgers. Baby boomers might find a better comparison in the band Squeeze, where Chris Difford wrote the words and Glenn Tilbrook composed the music. The Smiths provide an even more recent example, for Morrissey contributed the lyrics backed by the music of guitarist Johnny Marr.
Since Elton's contribution was mainly the melody, he could not have written any songs for his mother. Some of his rock peers, however, have penned some popular tunes addressed to their mothers. Here are five of them.
Julia by The Beatles
John Lennon, who worked closely with Elton John in the Seventies, wrote this track from the White Album and titled it after his mom.
Part of Your Own by John Gorka
Always a gifted folk songwriter, Gorka's words are especially moving on this portrait from the Between Five and Seven album.
Homeless by Loudon Wainwright
Rufus's dad laments the loss of his last living parent, and the sadness of its tone makes it a great last track for The Last Man On Earth album.
Mother by Tom Paxton
Moat of the tracks from the Bulletin record are satires aimed at the likes of the post office or gun control or the Presidency, but Paxton shows his more introspective side on this tribute to his mother.
Mother by Pink Floyd
Roger Water based the entire two record set called The Wall on his mother, a collection which eventually lead to a motion picture starring Bob Geldof.