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"Mother's Little Helper"
Lady Jane.jpg
Single by the Rolling Stones
from the album Aftermath (UK edition)
Released
  • 15 April 1966 (1966-04-15) (UK album)
  • July 1966 (US single)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded March 1966
Studio RCA, Hollywood, California
Genre Rock
Length 2:40
Label
Songwriter(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Andrew Loog Oldham
The Rolling Stones US singles chronology
"Paint It Black"
(1966)
"Mother's Little Helper" / "Lady Jane"
(1966)
"Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?"
(1966)
Aftermath track listing
14 tracks
Side one
  1. "Mother's Little Helper"
  2. "Stupid Girl"
  3. "Lady Jane"
  4. "Under My Thumb"
  5. "Doncha Bother Me"
  6. "Goin' Home"
Side two
  1. "Flight 505"
  2. "High and Dry"
  3. "Out of Time"
  4. "It's Not Easy"
  5. "I Am Waiting"
  6. "Take It or Leave It"
  7. "Think"
  8. "What to Do"

"Mother's Little Helper" is a song by the English rock band the Rolling Stones. It first appeared as the opening track to the United Kingdom version of their 1966 album Aftermath. It was released as a single in the United States and peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1966. The B-side "Lady Jane" peaked at number 24.[1]

The song deals with the sudden popularity of prescribed calming drugs among housewives, and the potential hazards of overdose or addiction. The drug in question is variously assumed to be meprobamate (Miltown)[2] or diazepam (Valium).[3]

Lyrics and composition[edit]

Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Mother's Little Helper" was recorded at the RCA Records studios in Hollywood, California, in March 1966.[4]

The song begins with the line that is also heard as the last line in the repeated bridge section:

What a drag it is getting old
Kids are different today, I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day[5]

Toward the end of the song, the mothers are warned:

And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
They just helped you on your way, to your busy dying day[5]

The song is based around folksy chords and an eastern-flavoured guitar riff sounding like a sitar, but is a slide riff played on an electric 12-string. As Richards stated in 2002:

[The strange guitar sound is] a 12-string with a slide on it. It's played slightly Oriental-ish. The track just needed something to make it twang. Otherwise, the song was quite vaudeville in a way. I wanted to add some nice bite to it. And it was just one of those things where someone walked in and, Look, it's an electric 12-string. It was some gashed-up job. No name on it. God knows where it came from. Or where it went. But I put it together with a bottleneck. Then we had a riff that tied the whole thing together. And I think we overdubbed onto that. Because I played an acoustic guitar as well.[6]

Richards also remembers the ending of the song being the idea of Bill Wyman, who also contributed a powerful and distinctive bass riff.[6]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 14
Germany (Official German Charts)[8] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 8

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joel Whitburn (1985), The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, ISBN 0-8230-7518-4
  2. ^ Esther Inglis-Arkell. "This Is The Drug In The Rolling Stones' Song "Mother's Little Helper"". Io9.gizmodo.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  3. ^ U.S. News and World Report, Vol. 127, p. 58 (1999): “A song on the 1967 Rolling Stones album Flowers was entitled ‘Mother's Little Helper,’ a tongue-in-cheek ode to a housewife coping with bratty kids and a demanding husband, thanks to Valium....”
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce (1989). Singles Collection: The London Years (Boxed set booklet). The Rolling Stones. New York City: ABKCO Records. p. 71. 1218-2. 
  5. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.  Track 5.
  6. ^ a b Ian McPherson. "Mother's Little Helper". Timeisonourside.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5789." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Rolling Stones – Mother's Little Helper". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  9. ^ "The Rolling Stones Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 June 2016.

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