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Mom Rock: Soft Rock Hits & Deep Cuts




Nothing against dad rock, but back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was mom rock that wafted from the family station wagon speakers and created the soundtrack to my formative years. My dad was always traveling for work, so it was really my mom and my little sister who provided most of what I have come to know as quality time. Like a crochet Afghan blanket on the sofa or a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup on a rainy day, mom rock was music that made me feel…mothered. But to be honest, mom rock as a subgenre wasn’t something I even considered until my mid 20s.





It was back in the mid 1990s, when my old band played our first of many shows with Beachwood Sparks in Los Angeles. Following their spectacular set, we were invited to an afterparty at the band’s Silverlake abode. It was there among the boot-cut donning longhairs and hip young lurkers where bass player Brent Rademaker put on an album by Bread before cracking open a cold beer. Shortly after recognizing the chorus of “Make It With You” (a staple in my mom’s 8-track rotation), I asked him, “Hey, is this Bread?” Brent replied without a hint of irony, “Yeah, man. I love Bread. They make me want to tuck in my shirt and wear a belt.”





This moment provided an awakening realization that there are no guilty pleasures. And that I should like what I like and just be myself. But it also ignited my obsession with soft rock. Admittedly, my first deliberate flirtations with these recordings were based in base nostalgia. After all, these songs reminded me of the awesome woman who raised me.




This is the music that played in the background of her Tupperware parties. These are the songs that sang from the little transistor radio she placed on our quilted, earth-tone, picnic blanket when the family posted up at the neighborhood park to watch Fourth of July fireworks. Among many other similar artists, it was the warm and mellow sounds of The Association, Carole King, The Alan Parsons Project, America, Carpenters, and Neil Diamond that made me feel safe at home.




Although soft rock started in the late 1960s, it flourished in the early 1970s as a melding of singer-songwriters, folk-rock, and AM radio pop. The general sound was characterized by a contrast of simple songwriting with lush (and sometimes orchestral) production. Many soft rock enthusiasts believe that the genre peaked in the late 1970s before it morphed into adult contemporary by the 1980s. While I remember much of this “AM gold” being played in my mom’s avocado green Pinto station wagon on the way to soccer practice, I would later discover some of my favorite songs by the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Valerie Carter, Jackson Browne, The Free Design, Iain Matthews, David Gates, Brewer & Shipley, and Prelude. Not to be confused with yacht rock, soft rock wasn’t just for smooth sailors and bearded bachelors. Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” was a soft rock anthem for anyone who sulked in the shadows of the popular kids in high school and Pure Prairie League’s “Aimee” twanged along with other legends of ‘70s country rock.


Sure, the definition of mom rock differs for every generation. More modern moms might like our Mom Jeans playlist or our Dear Mom pop songs even more than I like alliteration. And of course metal moms might like it louder than most – not to worry, we’ve got them covered with our Intro to Hair Metal playlist. We’ve even got country moms covered!  This Mother’s Day, we’d like to celebrate all moms, living and immortal, with the songs that make you feel mothered and… motherly.

1 Comment

Nice article. Thanks for sharing this:)