About The Song

Background

“Mama Said” was released in 1961 by the American girl group The Shirelles. The group, consisting of Shirley Owens (lead vocals), Doris McKenzie (soprano), Beverly Lee (alto), and Martha Andrews (bass), rose to fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s, becoming one of the most influential girl groups of the doo-wop and early soul eras.

Luther Dixon and Willie Denson wrote “Mama Said,” a songwriting duo known for crafting hits for artists like The Drifters, Ike & Tina Turner, and Solomon Burke. “Mama Said” was the B-side to their single “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which became a much bigger hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, “Mama Said” gained popularity over time, becoming a beloved song in its own right.

Musical Style

“Mama Said” showcases the signature sound of The Shirelles. It’s a doo-wop ballad with a driving backbeat and prominent handclaps. The Shirelles’ tight harmonies, known for their sweetness and sophistication, take center stage. Shirley Owens’ powerful and emotive lead vocals deliver the message with conviction.

The song has a simple yet effective chord progression, relying on major and minor chords to create a sense of both optimism and sadness. The tempo remains moderate throughout, allowing the focus to be on the lyrics and the emotional journey of the narrator.

Lyrics

The lyrics of “Mama Said” are a poignant exploration of love, heartbreak, and the wisdom passed down from mothers to daughters. The song opens with the iconic line, “Mama said there’d be days like this/There’ll be days like this, my mama said.” This sets the stage for the narrator’s experience of a sudden and unexpected heartbreak.

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The verses describe the narrator’s encounter with a boy named Billy-Joe, who seemingly sweeps her off her feet. However, the mood quickly shifts, and the narrator describes feeling lost and alone. The line “My eyes were wide open/All that I could see, yeah/The chapel bells were tollin’/For everybody but me” paints a vivid picture of the protagonist’s isolation and despair.

Despite the heartbreak, the song offers a glimmer of hope. The repeated refrain, “Mama said there’ll be days like this,” serves as a constant reminder of her mother’s wisdom. The lyrics suggest that these difficult times are inevitable, but they are also temporary.

The second verse offers a more cautionary message. The narrator’s mother tells her, “Someone would look at me/Like I’m lookin’ at you/One day/Then I might find I don’t want you any old way.” These lines hint at the fickleness of love and the importance of not getting too attached.

The song ends on a note of optimism. The narrator assures herself, “Don’t worry, ’cause Mama said there’ll be days like this.” She finds solace in her mother’s words and the belief that better days are ahead.

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Cultural Impact

“Mama Said” resonated deeply with young women of the time. It captured the complex emotions of love, heartbreak, and the often-complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. The song’s message of perseverance and the power of a mother’s love transcended generations, making it a timeless classic.

“Mama Said” has been covered by numerous artists, including Dionne Warwick, Etta James, and Sly and the Family Stone. The song has also been featured in several films and television shows, solidifying its place in pop culture history.

Beyond music, “Mama Said” has entered the vernacular. The opening line, “Mama said there’d be days like this,” is a familiar phrase used to express acceptance of life’s challenges.

Conclusion

“Mama Said” by The Shirelles is more than just a catchy song. It’s a timeless message of love, loss, and the enduring wisdom passed down from mothers to daughters. The song’s relatable lyrics, powerful vocals, and simple yet effective musical style have cemented its place as a classic of doo-wop and early soul music. “Mama Said” continues to resonate with listeners today, offering comfort and hope in the face of life’s inevitable challenges.

Video

Lyric

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this my mama said
(Mama said, mama said)

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I went walking the other day
Everything was going fine
I met a little boy named Billy Joe
And then I almost lost my mind

Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there’ll be days like this

There’ll be days like this my mama said
My eyes are wide open, but all that I can see is
Chapel bells are callin’ for everyone but a me
But I don’t worry ’cause

Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there’ll be days like this

There’ll be days like this my mama said
And then she said someone will look at me
Like I’m looking at you one day, then I might find
I don’t want it any old way, so I don’t worry ’cause

Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there’ll be days like this

There’ll be days like this my mama said
Mama said, mama said
Hey, don’t you worry
Mama said, mama said

Hey, don’t you worry now
Mama said, mama said
Hey, hey

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