Sugarland’s ‘Mother’ Is Bigger Than a Mother’s Day Song
The celebratory, anthemic feel of Sugarland's "Mother" is intentional. The duo say the track from Bigger isn't meant to simply be a tribute to the women who raised them.
It's a tribute to America.
"We wanted to write a song that was a metaphor for the Statue of Liberty and how she’s a feminine icon, this goddess figure that represents our country," Jennifer Nettles tells Taste of Country. “What you will hear in that is the beautiful personal politic of, she’ll take you in, she’ll feed your friends. Her open arms are welcoming ... Right there it’s, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.’ All of that is in there.”
"She's your mother, you love her / There won't be another place like her again, you call home / She stands here to help you / There's nothing she won't do / As long as she's alive, you're not alone," the duo sing at the chorus of "Mother." The final chorus is even more pointed.
"She's a beacon, a harbor / A lighthouse, her armor / A promise and a blanket when it's colder / You'll understand it more when you get older / You've got each other / That's your mother."
That the song works as a Mother's Day song or a year-long reminder to respect your mother isn't an afterthought. Nettles and Kristian Bush say they did have their mothers in mind when writing the song. They spent time thinking about those things a mother can say that a father cannot, Bush says.
"Yeah, if you and your brother were fighting the whole time and everybody was showing their a--, you know what she would do? She would look at you … and she would say, ‘You can do better,'" Nettles says, allowing her enthusiasm and emotion for what is clearly an important song for them to spill over. It's not clear if she's still quoting her mother or not when she finishes the thought with, "Be better."
That's the thin line between politics of the heart and simple politics that Sugarland dance along on at least two songs on Bigger. There is nothing that's overtly political and no lyric preaches, but they open up conversations about the world we live in with songs like this one and "Tuesday's Broken," a ballad inspired by several recent school shootings.
The title track and "Bird in a Cage" also challenge world views in a way that Sugarland fans may recognize, but others meeting the band for the first time will be taken aback by. Sonically, none of the above mentioned songs are their most progressive, but the themes and lyrics encourage communication in a way no song on the radio today tries to do.
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