Amanda Palmer: 'Mother'

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Much as I like Amanda Palmer, this doesn’t quite click with me. It feels like the core message is subverted, the overly protective mother turned into a guardian against evil instead of another part of the Machine. A song about how protection can go awry and get overzealous lost its meaning. Especially the last line feels off (“Mother did it need to be so high?”).

It’s tricky, since I love the original version, especially Gilmour’s guitar work and Waters’ vocal dynamics, but I did watch it twice to be as unbiased as possible. I guess the thing that makes it feel so off is that it is a song written by a man who accuses his mother of being overly protective, but the song and visuals as Amanda Palmer sings them are from the mother’s point of view.


Public transportation is so much nicer when you’re crying.

What a great piece of art.


I have to say the Patreon model is really working for her. She’s been able to do all sorts of cool projects that would have been tough through the old school label system.



They’re covering the wrong track called ‘Mother’

I think that is the point of Amanda Palmer’s version, to subvert the original and give it a different meaning.

After posting the video Palmer linked to this article about Trump’s mother who apparently was quite distant from her son.

I think the video is suggesting that Trump’s lack of empathy is partly the result of the lack of involvement from his mother.


The lyrics for the song are in two parts: mother (e.g. hush now, baby…) and child. In the original version, Waters sang both the mother’s part and the child’s part. Would it ideally be a duet? I’m not sure.

I find Palmer’s version to be one of her more powerful works, both musically and visually. I see this version in part as a call to remember that this terribly destructive man-child was also some mother’s baby once. Remember that Amanda Palmer is herself a mother, just a little time now. Knowing her, I’d be surprised if her toddler Ash isn’t in the video somewhere.

I like the way she changes the meaning of the lyrics to suggest that the problem is not that the mother of the song is overprotective, but that the son is overcompensating for his lack of maternal bonding.

In a way she is saying she wishes that, as a mother herself, she could put herself out there to replace the lack of love that lead to the creation of our national disgrace, who might, indeed, drop the bomb.


I don’t know if it subverts it unintentionally. She’s singing both parts, but she’s singing them perhaps from the perspective of a mother who can’t reach her child while hearing her name invoked, as if she’s answering the original song with an echo. I like it. It leaves the original song completely intact and works almost like an answer, where the original song’s “mother” exists in the mind of the singer, this version operates as if the mother was hearing and answering the original song, perhaps not with the answer the lyrics imply.

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I came looking for:


This is the Amanda Palmerest thing I have ever seen.


I love this song, and I love this version too! But I can’t help think that with a few tweaks of the lyrics, it could have been like this:

Vladi, should I run for president?
Vladi, should I trust the government?
Vladi, will they put me in the firing line?
Ooh, aah, Vladi, should I build a wall?

Hush now, Donny, Donny, don’t you cry
Vladi’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true
Vladi’s gonna put all of his fears into you
Vladi’s gonna keep you right here under his feet
He won’t let you fly but he might let you tweet
Vladi’s gonna keep Donny cozy and warm

Ooh, Don, ooh, Don, ooh, Don
Of course Vladi’s gonna help build the wall

Vladi, do you think she’s good enough for me?
Vladi, do you think she’s dangerous to me?
Vladi, will she tear your golden boy apart?
Ooh, aah, Vladi, will she break my heart?

Hush now, Donny, Donny, don’t you cry
Vladi’s gonna check out all your opponents for you
Vladi won’t let anyone dirty get through
Vladi’s gonna wait up 'til you get in
Vladi will always find out where you’ve been
Vladi’s gonna keep Donny healthy and clean

Ooh, Don, ooh, Don, ooh, Don
You’ll always be a puppet to me

Vladi, did it need to be so high?

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I seem to recall it being performed like that, even by Roger Waters. Just to refresh my memory, I did go to YouTube and found a few versions, including Sinead O’Connor’s singing it live in Berlin. So it works well that way. Either straight or creepy.

I did get that in the end, and it really is the problem that I am overly familiar with the song. I had internalized the idea that the message was how the singer’s mother suffocated him as a child, lay the groundwork for the wall between himself and the rest of the world.

Subsequent viewings made me think more of Boris Johnson than of Trumpkins, though. Less of a specific politician but of all the bumbling sociopaths in charge.

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For the curious, this video was shot at Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY, which is always worth a visit (in season). Ms. Palmer and family live nearby.


Damn, for the nearly countless times I listened to the original, I don’t think I ever really got the lyrics (although, to be fair to my younger more naive self, I haven’t listened to the album in, gulp, decades)

I love that quote: “You will not build walls in our children’s hearts.”

May I suggest:

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David Gilmour sang the mother’s part in the original.


You’re right. Thanks for the correction. I guess some people can even tell their voices apart.


I’d say their voices are very distinct, but it’s easy to hear Waters and Gilmour (and Richard Wright) sing and just think “that’s Pink Floyd” and the distinctions becomes blurred.


One of the things I find really funny is that I’ve seen a number of performances of Comfortably Numb performed by either Gilmour or Waters on solo tour with a guest to sing the other part. That means that Waters has famous singers with him (e.g. Eddie Vedder) to sing Gilmour’s part, but Gilmour could have nearly anyone up there to sing Water’s part. I saw a youtube video of him performing the song with Benedict Cumberbatch. I thought, “I didn’t know Cumberbatch was a singer.” Then I watched the video and thought, “Oh, right, he isn’t.” Not that it was bad, but an actor is as good as a singer for that part.