Morrissey A-Z: "Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed"

This Charming Bowie

Welcome to this knockabout world
On Refusal, this song slows things down after the blitz of “Something Is Squeezing My Skull” - and while it doesn’t touch the extreme heights of that song, this is still brilliant, just showing how great of an album Refusal is. The staunch march arrangement helps propel the dark lyrics about someone who is pushed to their limits by their mother’s suicide, as potentially a response to “pigs in grey suits”. It acts, like other songs on the album and ones from throughout his career, as a takedown of upper class ideas and privilage. The music gradually gets more and more intense and the narrator gets more delusional, and the story ends with their death - where they will “lie down beside” their mother, as the title suggests. In concert, this tension was increased by a military-like drum tattoo at the song’s end.
A great song with extremely potent lyrics.
8/10
 

Phranc & Open

two-timer
Difficult one. Has the quality of a b-side to me. "Shame is the name" would have been a better choice for the album.
 
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MrShoes

"Ooo, there's goobers on his bod." - Ted Cruz
Subscriber
If only they produced it with less volume on the percussion track. AND remove the whale-wrenching sounds beginning 2:00.
 

gordyboy9

rip roaring,free scoring,never boring, celtic.
always liked this,was great live with the boys coming to the front of the stage to do the military drumming to finish.those really were the days.
8 mamas/10 lays.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Amazing. Super dramatic, great music and lyrics. In my top 10 Moz songs for sure. An easy 10 out of 10.
 

Flibberty

Well-Known Member
A solid album track, but I don't really hear anything new or surprising about this. Some of the words could have come from the random Morrissey lyric generator.

In the poll on the Hoffman board it ranked 100th from 264 solo songs.
 

Hovis Lesley

Well-Known Member
I barely notice it on the album, completely benign. The sound of Morrissey in stuck in first gear—I was concerned at the time that he was becoming comfortable with that. The concern was heightened by the apparent pride that accompanied its live outings (as similarly occurred with the painfully drab Crashing Bores song).
 
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Verso

Well-Known Member
A pretty awful song, there's just something so ugly about the entire affair save for that one sweet melodic glimmer of "it's just so lonely here without you." I can probably count on one hand the number of rock and roll songs that benefit from a militaristic drum arrangement and this certainly ain't one of them.
 

Mike Rourke

Well-Known Member
A pretty awful song, there's just something so ugly about the entire affair save for that one sweet melodic glimmer of "it's just so lonely here without you." I can probably count on one hand the number of rock and roll songs that benefit from a militaristic drum arrangement and this certainly ain't one of them.
Agree with you on the awfulness. I do actually like quite a few songs with militaristic drum beats though - this song just isn't one of them!
 
It took me a long while to warm to this and in the end, only the chorus won me over.

That said, I reckon Suede's legal counsel would've listened to it very closely to see if there's any grounds for litigation.
 

Mayfly

Well-Known Member
When it resurfaced on the setlist in 2015, the song struck me as deafening loud, due to the drumming and distorted noisiness in the middle.
That militaristic drumming is really Matt's thing, and I have the feeling that Morrissey is quite fond of that style.

Other than that, I agree that it works better as part of the YOR album than on its own. Coming right after "Something is squeezing my skull", it makes for a very powerful opening (literally) of the album, like YA before and LIHS afterwards, and I rate it as a solid album track.

Is anything known about what might have inspired the lyrics?
 

BrokenFrame

Well-Known Member
I actually like this song mostly because of the "Life is nothing much to lose" line. Only Morrissey can so succinctly sum things up.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
I love the topic, lyrics and atmosphere of this song - a genuinely interesting subject compared to lazy drivel about 'getting a table for Mabel' etc. It is just let down a bit by a poor vocal melody, which is really rare for Moz.
 

Amy

from the Ice Age to the dole age
Is anything known about what might have inspired the lyrics?
Moz once claimed that Mike Joyce tried to 'seize' his mother's house (and his sister's house) as a way to get what he was owed after the court case. Any references to legal eagles, pigs in suits etc, I always interpret as linked to that.
 
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