21 Mother’s Day Songs That Will Make Mom Cry
Sometimes the greatest Mother's Day gift is the gift of song, so crank up the volume, grab some tissues, and let the bawl-fest begin.
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Song has so much power over our emotions. It can evoke happy memories as easily as sad ones, or simply offer nostalgia for another time and place. Similarly, Mother’s Day can have the same effect on our feelings and sentiments. Just as a song might get us through a particularly difficult time, so can mom. In fact, there could be an entire category of music dedicated to just Mother’s Day songs. You know the ones—similar to a Mother’s Day poem, they tug at mom’s heartstrings just as strongly (if not more) than amazingly thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts. And, hey, they likely bring a tear to your eye, too. Check out these Mother’s Day songs to share with your mom or any of your favorite mamas this year.
“A Song For Mama” — Boyz II Men
Written and produced by Babyface and performed by 1990s music icons Boyz II Men, there’s really no better way to tell mama you love her than with smooth four-part harmony. “A Song For Mama” peaked at number seven on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart on Valentine’s Day in 1998, making it one of the ten tracks the group has sent to the Top 10 over the course of their career. The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 1997 feature film Soul Food, fitting as the movie’s message is all about family.
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“The Mother” — Brandi Carlile
This Mother’s Day song is a direct musical hit to the heart. Singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile included the song “The Mother” on her 2017 album By the Way, I Forgive You, beautifully and melodically paying homage to everything a mother does for her child from the moment they are brought into the world. Carlile, who herself became a mother in 2014, pens lyrics that are oh-so-relatable, especially for the new mom who is experiencing a lot of sleepless nights with a newborn. “The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep / She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep / She filled my life with color, canceled plans and trashed my car / But none of that is ever who we are,” she sings.
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“I Hope You Dance” — Lee Ann Womack
With lyrics like, “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean / Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,” it’s easy to see why Lee Ann Womack’s sweeping inspirational ballad makes mothers everywhere teary-eyed. The track, released in 2000, touches upon nearly every wish a parent has for their child’s future. Womack’s heartfelt lyrics paid off in more ways than simply being one of the most beloved Mother’s Day songs, they earned her a Best Female Country Vocal Performance nomination at the 43rd Grammy Awards.
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“Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” — The Chicks
For the mom who wants to remember the days when her babies were actually babies, songwriter Radney M. Foster encapsulates the cherished moments of tucking in a young child in the lyrics to “Godspeed (Sweet Dreams).” “The rocket racer’s all tuckered out / Superman’s in pajamas on the couch / Goodnight moon, will find the mouse / And I love you,” croons lead singer Natalie Maines in this track featured on the band’s 2003 album Home. Singer and TV host Nick Lachey also sings his own version of this sweet song.
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“Don’t Forget to Remember Me” — Carrie Underwood
Empty nesters will experience all of the feels courtesy of Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget to Remember Me.” The tune is all about striking out on your own, but still needing mom’s support, wisdom, and reassurance. Just because you leave the house doesn’t mean your mother stops worrying about you. Consider these lyrics: “Baby, don’t forget / Before you hit the highway /You better stop for gas / There’s a fifty in the ashtray /In case you run short on cash / Here’s a map, and here’s a Bible / If you ever lose your way / Just one more thing before you leave / Don’t forget to remember me.”
“Mom” — Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks has a lot of hits, but he holds “Mom,” written by Wynn Varble and Don Sampson, near and dear. When you hear him describe this beautiful Mother’s Day song, you’ll understand why. “It’s a conversation between God and this unborn child, [who is] about ready to go down to earth,” Brooks said during a Good Morning America appearance. “And when God describes what a mom is… whew, it kills me. It’s a beautiful song; I wish I’d written it… You know I’m a mama’s boy.”
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“Oh Mother” — Christina Aguilera
Let’s face it, with her extraordinary singing voice, Christina Aguilera can bring life and emotion to any song. But the track “Oh Mother” from her 2008 Back to Basics album is particularly raw and heartfelt. Aguilera penned the tune for her own mother, Shelly Lorraine, who experienced the struggles of single motherhood all while raising three amazing children. In the song, the pop star croons, “So mother, I thank you / For all you’ve done and still do /You got me, I got you / Together we always pull through.”
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“Hey Mama” — Kanye West
“Hey Mama,” written for Kayne West’s mother Donda, appeared on his album Late Registration and will tug at the heartstrings of any hip-hop enthusiast, particularly since her untimely passing in 2007. West has since been known to choke back tears before performing the song live.
“Mother” — Kacey Musgraves
In 2018 country singer Kacey Musgraves released her album “Golden Hour,” featuring a musical ode to her own mom called, quite simply, “Mother.” In an interview with A Taste of Country, the singer admits she really had to go deep to pen the emotional tune, which instantly became one of the most perfect Mother’s Day songs. “I just started thinking about all this crazy hurt that’s going on in the world, it was really heavy, and I was missing my mom at the same time,” she told the website. “I started thinking about the cycle of mothers and the fact that I was sitting there in Tennessee missing my mom who was sitting there in Texas missing her mom. It just goes on and on.”
“Mama’s Song” — Carrie Underwood
Yep, we’re hearing from Carrie Underwood yet again on this list, which we imagine would make her mom very proud. The American Idol alum co-wrote this ode to moms everywhere with Kara DioGuardi, Marti Frederiksen, and Luke Laird, even offering her own mother a cameo in the accompanying music video. The song touches on a daughter’s praise for the way her mama raised her, offering confidence that her future looks bright as a confident, happily married woman.
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“Baby Mine” — Alison Krauss
The title here says it all. “Baby Mine” is a tender message from a mother to her little one, with a sentiment that never leaves a parent no matter how old her child becomes. It reminds us of the quote that describes a child’s early years so well: “The days are long but the years are short.” Alison Krauss’s rendition of the Betty Noyes tune is bound to make one a little reminiscent and, yes, a bit weepy, too.
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“The Baby” — Blake Shelton
If you’ve ever read the children’s book Love You Forever (and, boy, what a tear-jerker that is), Blake Shelton’s ballad “The Baby” is almost like the musical version. In the Mother’s Day song, Shelton muses about how his mother tells him that even when he turns 80, he’ll always be her baby. The tune takes the listener through the early days all the way to the mother’s passing, hitting all of the emotional notes. We love these lyrics: “I guess she was tired by the time I came along / She’d laugh until she cried / I could do no wrong / She would always save me because I was her baby.”
“The Wish” — Bruce Springsteen
The Boss has never shied away from writing songs that essentially sing like musical poetry, telling descriptive stories about his childhood and life. He wrote, “The Wish” with his own mother, Adele Springsteen, in mind. This Mother’s Day song may not bring on the tears, though, and that’s the way Bruce would want it. Just take a look at the track’s final lyrics: “This one’s for you, ma, let me come right out and say it / It’s overdue, but baby, if you’re looking for a sad song, well I ain’t gonna play it.”
“In My Daughter’s Eyes” — Martina McBride
Even on a day that might feel like a giant parenting fail, children often look to their mothers and fathers as if they are superhuman, capable of accomplishing anything. Martina McBride’s ballad “In My Daughter’s Eyes” reminds us of that, but also notes that children make parents want to be better people. It was the second single off of McBride’s 2003 album Martina, and while beloved by mamas everywhere, only peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Dear Mama” — Tupac Shakur
As a tribute to his mom Afeni, Tupac Shakur penned “Dear Mama,” which details the late rapper’s rough upbringing and Afeni’s addiction to crack cocaine. Despite the harsh truths described on the track, ultimately Shakur is trying to express the unconditional love he had for his mother despite their impoverished and difficult situation. The single, featured on his album Me Against the World, was certified platinum in 1995.
“Mother” — Sugarland
From their 2018 album Bigger, Sugarland really delivers on the quintessential Mother’s Day song with the aptly titled “Mother.” “One of the things about this song is, it’s so personal to everyone who listens, and we wanted to celebrate what we feel is so beautiful about mothers, what we had in our own mothers, and what we see as beautiful about that relationship and that unconditional, open-ended kind of love,” says Jennifer Nettles in an interview with The Boot. The song is a deep dive into all of the ways a mother is there for you throughout your life.
“The Perfect Fan” — The Backstreet Boys
The Backstreet Boys may be best known for creating boy band pandemonium in the late 1990s, but not all of their songs were directed at making their legions of female fans swoon. “The Perfect Fan,” in fact, is a shout-out to their own mothers, the women who raised them and supported them through the chaos and craziness of fame. The song appeared on 1999’s Millennium and it’s probably safe to say that as BSB’s fan base has grown up and started families of their own, “The Perfect Fan” has much greater meaning.
“Two of Us” — Louis Tomlinson
One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson decided to use music as a way to help him come to terms with the death of his mother, Johannah Deakin, at the age of 43. “It was something I needed to get off my chest,” he said in an interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat. “I used to lean on my mum for a lot of things—anytime I needed advice on something she would be the first call I made.” The result is an absolutely beautiful ode to Deakin, and a song quite relatable to anyone who has lost their mother.
“The Best Day” — Taylor Swift
Try as a mom might to do the best for her children, it’s rare she’s treated with acknowledgment. Taylor Swift penned “The Best Day” to make sure her other mother knew how much she appreciates her love and support. “I had this idea that I wanted to play it for her for Christmas,” Swift said in a Big Machine Records press release. “So, when I got the track I synced up all of these home videos from when I was a little kid to go along with the song like a music video and played it for her on Christmas Eve and she was crying her eyes out.”
“Mom” — Meghan Trainor
This is likely the only song on the list that actually features an appearance by the artist’s own mother. Meghan Trainor’s mother Kelli can be heard on the song “Mom” as Trainor incorporated a small portion of a phone conversation shared by the two. That only makes the sweet tune even more special. While the song is a special shoutout from daughter to mother, its lyrics and message really translate to all of the moms out there looking out for their little ones, even those that are grown.
“Like My Mother Does” — Lauren Alaina
“Like My Mother Does” has actually been recorded by three different artists, but Lauren Alaina’s take is likely the most high-profile as it was the track she would have performed had she taken home the grand prize on her season of American Idol (she was voted runner-up). The song is a true love letter to mothers who lead their families with unconditional love and unending support. Yes, this one will make you cry. Read on to find out all the superhuman talents that moms possess.