10 Prime Hits: Mother’s Day

The Judds, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton Sing About Mom

From Dolly Parton to Miranda Lambert, country stars have always had a soft spot for mothers. Here are 10 prime hits that celebrate the women who welcomed us into the world.

“The Baby,” Blake Shelton
A mother tells her youngest child, “I don’t care if you’re 80, you’ll always be my baby.” If you’re the parent of a teenager or an adult, you’ll immediately identify with the emotion Michael White and the late Harley Allen conveyed when they wrote the 2002 single that became Shelton’s second No. 1 hit. There’s an immense sadness when you realize the guy in the song doesn’t make it home in time to see his mother before she dies, but there’s also some sweet comfort present because he’ll always know just how much she loved him. — Calvin Gilbert

“Coat of Many Colors,” Dolly Parton
I was 8 years old when I piped this song through my dad’s old speakers. This “Coat” was like a warm, hopeful hug. I’d listen as Parton told me how her mama lovingly sewed scraps of rags together and how her ridiculing classmates later laughed at her piecemeal jacket. This poetic tune is about much more than a coat. It’s a lesson in overcoming adversity and a message of unconditional love. Though I wasn’t poor or wearing rags, I had thick glasses with merciless rims that magnified my bushy eyebrows. My third-grade self felt like the school spectacle. But my mom saw someone special behind bespectacled me, much like Parton’s mama saw in her. To mom, my blemishes made me me. Now, a new mother myself, I can only hope to do the same for my son. Thank you, Mom. I will always love you. — Whitney Self

“Harper Valley P.T.A.,” Jeannie C. Riley
This sassy number raised a lot of eyebrows in 1968 when Riley reminisced about a mother who socked it to hypocrites in her hometown. Can you believe that miniskirts would have caused such an uproar? Written by Tom T. Hall, the straight-talking single spent three weeks at No. 1 and inspired a TV series. To this day, it remains a popular cover song but nobody delivers the punch quite like Ms. Riley. — Craig Shelburne

“In My Daughter’s Eyes,” Martina McBride
This sentimental ballad changes the perspective of a typical mother-and-child relationship. Although mom knows she’s a hero to her daughter, there’s a determination to be more like the kid — openhearted, bright-eyed and peaceful. While you can imagine McBride singing this to her own young children, that mutual admiration between mothers and daughters can last a lifetime. — CS

“Mama He’s Crazy,” the Judds
Always listen to your mama. I was head over heels in love when I got dumped the day before high school. Throw in several more times before I moved to Nashville, too. Each time I fell, I fell hard. In fact, I sounded like Wynonna every time we got back together, singing his praises of being “unlike any man I’d ever met” and how he was “heaven-sent.” But unlike Naomi Judd, who warns her daughter to “Look before you leap,” my mom said something a little different. She told me to be a lady but to “Kiss the cute ones.” I listened all right. And boy did I have fun — not too much — but just enough that when I think back on these times, the corners of my mouth still turn up a little. — WS

“Mama Tried,” Merle Haggard
Haggard’s poor ol’ mama probably had a rougher time raising her boy than any other mother on the list. Not everything in “Mama Tried” is autobiographical, but Haggard was known to run away from home, steal cars and hop a train. He eventually wound up in San Quentin prison. And you thought you were a handful! Haggard eventually turned his life around — with a little help from a Johnny Cash concert he attended while locked up — and “Mama Tried” stands as an anthem for those with a rebellious streak, whether they wised up or “turned 21 in prison, doin’ life without parole.” — Chris Parton

“Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda Lambert
If there’s one thing Lambert fans know for sure, it’s that she’s not one to “hide her crazy.” So when mama wants Lambert to save face with the ladies’ bridge club after a bad breakup, she politely reminds her mother whose heart was broken — with scissors, screaming, drinking and smoking. “Mama’s Broken Heart” was written by singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves, yet it fits Lambert’s attitude to a “T.” With a thumping beat and a sarcastically-shouted chorus, it’s not a message that mama really wants to hear but one that daughters love to crank up once the bedroom door closes. — CP

“Mama’s Song,” Carrie Underwood
I always enjoy when artists feature friends and family in their music videos. The overall message of the song seems more heartfelt. For “Mama’s Song,” Underwood shares the spotlight with her mother Carole and husband Mike Fisher. While the vocals are flawless as always and the lyrics reassuring, it’s the music video that gets me every time. Released shortly after Underwood’s wedding to Fisher in 2010, it perfectly captures the feeling I’m sure mothers have felt since the beginning of time. Carole is so genuine as she talks about her baby growing up and flips through photos from the singer’s childhood. Underwood’s calming words of “Don’t you worry about me” are surely what all parents hope for when their kids begin a new journey in life. — Stephanie Pendergrass

“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings
Being a mother to little kids always made me love songs about little kids. But now, my kids aren’t so little. In fact, they’re on the verge of not being kids at all. So the talks of being ballerinas and firemen when they grow up are long gone. Now, it seems all we talk about are the costs of higher education. I drive my teenagers nuts singing them this classic country song. And now that I’ve made my first college tuition payment, when I get to the line about convincing them to be doctors and lawyers and such, I wonder if that’s really such a good idea. I mean, do you know what med school and law school cost these days? So I’m actually encouraging the cowboy thing. I’ve always loved guitars, trucks, belt buckles, faded Levis, smoky old pool rooms and little warm puppies. — Alison Bonaguro

“Mother Like Mine,” The Band Perry
There are really no words to aptly describe the abundant rewards of raising children. It would be way too long of a list. But there is one reward that would rise to the top of most mothers’ lists. And The Band Perry nailed it with “Mother Like Mine,” from their new album, Pioneer. It’s this: When your kids get to that age when they sincerely appreciate all that you do — not just thanks-for-washing-my-favorite-jeans-mom, but more of that bigger picture gratitude — that has to be the ultimate Mother’s Day gift. The three Perry kids wrote this song about their mom, Marie, and what the world would be like if she’d have mothered us all. If my mom was still alive, I would call her and sing this to her on Mother’s Day. Maybe every day. Just so she’d know how much I loved the way she loved me. — AB