Mother and Child Reunion

"Mother and Child Reunion"
Single by Paul Simon
from the album Paul Simon
B-side "Paranoia Blues"
Released February 5, 1972
Recorded 1971
Length 3:05
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles chronology
"I Am a Rock"
"Mother and Child Reunion"
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
"I Am a Rock"
"Mother and Child Reunion"
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"

"Mother and Child Reunion" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the lead single from his second self-titled studio album (1972), released on Columbia Records. It was released as a single on February 5, 1972, reaching No. 1 in South Africa and No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 57 song for 1972. It was at the time one of the few songs by a non-Jamaican musician to use prominent elements of reggae.[1]


Simon liked reggae, he listened to Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, and Byron Lee; he wanted to go to Kingston, Jamaica to record the song, as that was where Cliff had recorded his antiwar song "Vietnam" in 1970.[2] The title has its origin in a chicken-and-egg dish called "Mother and Child Reunion" that Simon saw on a Chinese restaurant's menu.[3] The song's lyrics were inspired by a pet dog that was run over and killed. It was the first death Simon personally experienced, and he began to wonder how he would react if the same happened to his wife, Peggy Harper. "Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy and it was like Heaven, I don't know what the connection was," Simon told Rolling Stone in 1972.[3]


The song was recorded at Dynamic Sounds Studios at Torrington Bridge in Kingston, Jamaica, with Jimmy Cliff's backing group. Guitarist Huks ("Hux") Brown and bass guitarist Jackie Jackson were also long-time members of Toots & the Maytals. Cissy Houston sang background vocals on the recording. The song was recorded before writing lyrics, which was unusual for Simon. He had previously hoped to make "Why Don't You Write Me"— a song recorded with Art Garfunkel on Bridge over Troubled Water—to sound like a Jamaican song, but felt it ended up sounding like a "bad imitation." Simon was instructed by the musicians on the differences among reggae, ska, and bluebeat. He felt awkward at first because he was "the only white guy there and I was American." Simon later overdubbed piano and vocals to the track back in New York.[3]


  • Lead vocal: Paul Simon
  • Drums: Winston Grennan
  • Lead guitar: Hux Brown
  • Organ: Neville Hinds
  • Bass guitar: Jackie Jackson
  • Piano: Larry Knechtel
  • Percussion: Denzil Laing
  • Rhythm guitar: Wallace Wilson
  • Backup singers: Cissy Houston, Von Eva Sims, Renelle Stafford, Deirdre Tuck, Jimmy Christmas

Chart history

Other versions



  1. ^ David Vlado Moskowitz (2006). Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 139. 
  2. ^ Spencer Leigh. Simon & Garfunkel: Together Alone. p. 112. 
  3. ^ a b c Jon Landau (July 20, 1972). "Paul Simon: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone (113). Retrieved May 27, 2016. 
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  5. ^ " – Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  6. ^ "RPM100: Singles" (PDF). RPM. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. 17 (7). April 1, 1972. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  7. ^ " – Paul Simon Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mother and Child Reunion". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  9. ^ " – Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "Topp 20 Single uke 17, 1972 – VG-lista. Offisielle hitlister fra og med 1958" (in Norwegian). VG-lista. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  11. ^ " – Paul Simon – Mother and Child Reunion". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  12. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 22 May 1972
  13. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (S)". Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  14. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  15. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 499. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  16. ^ "Paul Simon Chart History (Hot 100)" Billboard. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 219. 
  18. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 1, 1972
  19. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 30, 1972


Further reading

  • Lacitis, Erik (October 7, 1986). "Dig It: 254 Nonstop Hits! (This Offer is Not Available in Many Stores)," The Seattle Times.

External links