Mama Told Me Not to Come

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"Mama Told Me Not to Come"
Song by Eric Burdon & The Animals from the album Eric Is Here
ReleasedMarch 1967
GenreRock
LabelMGM
WriterRandy Newman
ProducerTom Wilson
 
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"Mama Told Me Not to Come"
Song by Eric Burdon & The Animals from the album Eric Is Here
ReleasedMarch 1967
GenreRock
LabelMGM
WriterRandy Newman
ProducerTom Wilson

"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" is a song by American singer-songwriter Randy Newman written for Eric Burdon's first solo album in 1966. Three Dog Night's 1970 pop rock cover of the song topped the U.S. pop singles charts. Sir Tom Jones' cover also hit number four on the U.K. Singles Chart in 2000.

Newman original and first recordings[edit]

Newman says that the song was inspired by his own lighthearted reflection on the Los Angeles, California music scene of the late 1960s. As with most Newman songs, he assumes a character - in "Mama..." the narrator is a sheltered and extraordinarily straight-laced young man, who recounts what is presumably his first "wild" party in the big city, is shocked and appalled by cigarette-smoking, whiskey-drinking, and loud music) and — in the chorus of the song — he recalls his "mama told [him] not to come."

The first recording of "Mama Told Me Not to Come" was cut by Eric Burdon & The Animals. A scheduled single-release of September 1966 was withdrawn,[1] but the song was eventually included on their 1967 album Eric Is Here.

Newman's own version of his song was released on the 1970 album 12 Songs, and was characterized by Newman's mid-tempo, rollicking piano accompaniment, as well as Ry Cooder's understated slide guitar part, both of which give the song the feel of a bluesy Ray Charles-style rhythm and blues number.

Three Dog Night version[edit]

"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album It Ain't Easy
B-side"Rock & Roll Widow"
ReleasedMay 1970 (1970-05)[2]
Format7" 45 RPM
Recorded1969-1970 at American Recording Company[2]
GenreRock
Length2:59 (45 version)
LabelDunhill
Writer(s)Randy Newman
Producer(s)Richard Podolor[2]
CertificationGold (RIAA)[3]
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Celebrate"
(February 1970)
"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)"
(May 1970)
"Out in the Country"
(August 1970)

Also in 1970, Three Dog Night released a longer, rock 'n roll and funk-inspired version (titled "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)") on It Ain't Easy.

Three Dog Night's version had the same 3/4 by 2/4 time change as Eric Burdon's version and featured Cory Wells singing lead in an almost humorous vocal-style,[4] Jimmy Greenspoon playing a Wurlitzer electric piano, and Michael Allsup playing his guitar, which sounds like a violin on the recording.[5]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart (1970)Peak
position
Canadian Top Singles[6]2
Germany (Media Control Charts)[7]12
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[8]14
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9]3
US Billboard Hot 100[10]1

The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on July 14, 1970, the same day that It Ain't Easy was certified gold.[3]

This was the very first #1 song played on the July 4, 1970 broadcast of American Top 40.

Tom Jones and Stereophonics version[edit]

Tom Jones & Stereophonics' treatment of the song reached number four on the U.K. Singles Chart in 2000. This version was produced by Steve Bush and Marshall Bird (AKA "Bird & Bush"). Singer Kelly Jones shared in the vocals with Tom Jones, with the song featuring a somewhat livelier, punchier sound than the aforementioned Three Dog Night version.

Other versions[edit]

P. J. Proby recorded one of the earliest versions of the song in 1967,[11] followed by Three Dog Night's 1970 hit. It has also been recorded by a diverse range of artists, including Wilson Pickett,[11] Lou Rawls,[11] The Wolfgang Press,[11] Yo La Tengo, Helmut Zerlett, The Slackers, and Paul Frees (as W.C. Fields) accompanied by The Animals. Lazlo Bane. Jazz singer Roseanna Vitro included it in her 2010 collection The Music of Randy Newman. A 1970 cover by The Jackson 5 was released on Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls.

Tea Leaf Green[12] and Widespread Panic[13] have performed this song live. In 1971, the comic singer Patrick Topaloff released a French version named Maman, viens me chercher. A German version, entitled Das War So Doch Nicht Geplant, was published in 2005 by the German soul singer Stefan Gwildis.

Further miscellaneous utilization[edit]

Three Dog Night's version would later appear in Terry Gilliam's 1998 movie adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1972 gonzo novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Due to the song's upbeat, paranoid mood, it was used for the scene of obsessively drug-using protagonists Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo escaping a "District Attorneys convention on narcotics and dangerous drugs". It also appears as the last song in the movie's G-rated trailer, mainly accompanying Duke's wild car ride to have Dr. Gonzo catch a plane in time, a scene where in the R-rated trailer and in the actual film, Viva Las Vegas by Dead Kennedys was used instead.

The Three Dog Night version was also used in the 1997 films GI Jane (played over a montage of scenes showing Jordan O'Neill (Demi Moore) conditioning herself for the extreme physical demands of SEAL training) and Boogie Nights.

Also used in the movie The Sweetest Thing (2002), when Cameron Diaz is walking up the street.

References[edit]

Preceded by
"The Love You Save" by The Jackson 5
Billboard Hot 100 number one single (Three Dog Night version)
July 11, 1970 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"(They Long to Be) Close to You" by The Carpenters