Dangerous Compassions

music my mom liked


Hello, how are you doing?  I’ve been thinking about music my mom liked.  I’ve had a playlist of music I associate with my dad and his death for a long time.  When I feel my grief for my dad stuck inside me, I can hear these tunes and cry.  It’s helpful.

But I finally started a playlist of music my mom liked.  You can listen to it, if you want to.  The first song Tell Me Something Good is something she sang to me often, for years!

My dad was more the boss of music than my mom.  So when I think of music I heard while I was growing up, it was more my dad’s music.  I have to really ponder what my mom liked.

brown eyed girl

“Are there any songs you associate with my mom?” I asked Ming.

“No,” Ming said.  “Well, Brown Eyes.”

“Oh yeah, Brown Eyed Girl,” I said.  By Van Morrison.

That was my dad’s ringtone for when my mom called him.  When I was with my dad, my mom called often, and I heard the first part of that song a lot.

Then a few days after my dad died, someone called my mom to see how she was, and Brown Eyed Girl started playing on my mom’s stereo right then.  She kinda lost it.  Probably it was her first time hearing it since my dad died.  I remember that moment.

questions for further reflection

What music makes you think of your mom?

What is / was your mom’s ethnicity and racial identity?  Does that correspond to her music choices?

If you look at a list of your mom’s favorite songs, do you realize anything?

my conclusions

When I was an adult and saw a picture of Van Morrison for the first time, I was shocked.  It was a full on, “No!  No!  It cannot be!”  My whole life, I had assumed Van Morrison was Black.  He sounded Black to me.

I was amazed that he was a white man.  Wow, how did that happen?

My mom was a Mexican-American person.  She listened to Santana.  She even went to a Santana concert with her sisters, a year or two before her death.

But otherwise, the music my mom liked the most was made by white people and Black people.  And white people who sounded Black.  She went for soulful, embodied, sensual music.


My mom loved pleasure, especially the pleasure of eating a delicious food, dancing, and relaxing.  She was the queen of relaxing.

“Move your hips when you dance,” she told me, every time she saw me dance.  “Loosen up.  Shake your butt,” she advised.

I always resisted.  Inside, I was like, “Let me dance in my own way.  I can be me.  I don’t need to be like you.”

Butt shaking was definitely my mom’s way.  She was trying to help me be more happy and relaxed, via shaking my booty.


My mom was almost 20 years older than me.  She had me when she was 19.  She watched American Bandstand as a teenager.  When I saw it with her, when I was little, that was a normal part of life.

Here are young people dancing.  Here is the popular music–do you like it?

Now I feel like music is more separated out.  There’s Black music which is soul, R & B, hiphop, rap.  And it’s more separate from white music, like Brittney Spears and Taylor Swift kind of nonsense.  And sad queer white music like Sufjan Stevens, and mostly-white folk music like Innocence Mission, which I love.

I don’t have a master’s degree in music or race.  But I like thinking about my mom, and I miss her very much.  It’s hard around my birthday since we spent my birthday together every year.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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