Mama Tried lyrics
Saturday, May 13, 2006

First thing I remember knowin'
Was my therapist Dr. Cohen
Who told me I was gifted deep inside
So I grew up filled with hope,
Writing songs and smoking dope,
And no one to change my mind but Mama tried.

The one and only rebel child,
A bohemian, self-styled,
Black T-shirts and jeans were all I wore.
I drank beer and I drank pinas
And I thought I was a genius
Till Mama couldn't stand me anymore.

And I turned 21 in grad school
Working toward my MFA
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.
Mama told me to shape up
But her pleading I denied,
That leaves only me to blame, cause Mama tried.

Dear old Daddy, rest his soul,
Had a mission and a goal
And Mama brought me up to be like him.
He set a good example,
But I was born to ramble,
And to follow every impulse, every whim.

And I turned 31 in theater,
An avant-garde ensemble,
And working as a waiter every night, on the side.
Mama begged me to go straight
But I had to deviate,
That leaves only me to blame, cause Mama tried.

Mama sent me a letter,
"Son, I think that you better
Find something to do and get a grip."
So I set out to find
A job, then changed my mind,
And sold my car and went off on a trip.

And I turned 41 in Santa Fe,
Making earthen pots,
I told her I had sold some but I lied, yes, I lied..
I was selling picture postcards
And I was dissatisfied,
But that was all my fault, cause Mama tried.

I sold cars in Delaware,
I taught dancing in Eau Claire,
Now I'm working on a novel and a play.
And both have been rejected,
Which is just what I expected
Cause they're radical and have so much to say.

Now I'm 51 and hanging round
And doing this and that
And what I want to be I can't decide, can't decide.
I might go into teaching
Or I might do something else
And Mama she's quit trying since she died.

I might rewrite my play
Or I could go to L.A.
But Mama she lost interest when she died.

© Garrison Keillor 2002

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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