May 20, 2011

The Story of "Mother and Child Reunion"

One of my all-time favorite tracks is Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion"—a simple, catchy, and straightforward bit of rocksteady with a hell of an opening guitar line. Simon recorded the song during a series of sessions with famed Jamaican studio band The Dynamites in Kingston in 1970. Not only was "Mother and Child Reunion" Simon's first single post Simon & Garfunkel, but it was also one of the first instances where a mainstream white musician prominently incorporated elements of reggae into a pop song. Obviously, people dig reggae music and the track wound up being a hit, reaching #4 in the US pop charts in 1972.

According to an interview that year with Rolling Stone, Simon was inspired to write the song after his dog was killed by a car and he began to think, "Oh, man, what if that was [my wife] Peggy? What if somebody like that died?" The inspiration for the song's title and chorus, however, is a little less emotional: "I was eating in a Chinese restaurant downtown. There was a dish called 'Mother and Child Reunion.' It's chicken and eggs. And I said, 'Oh, I love that title. I gotta use that one.'" (Research via Marco)

Check out two covers of the track below. Listening to Horace Andy's version out of context, you really would have no idea Simon penned the original.

Horace Andy - "Mother and Child Reunion" 
Grizzly Bear - "Mother and Child Reunion"

The Essential Paul Simon - Paul Simon

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