Genesis’ “Mama” Lyrics Meaning

Genesis‘ hit song “Mama” tells the tale of a young lad who is deeply in love or rather obsessed with a woman older than him. Said woman is apparently a working girl. And it is likely the young lad met her at a setting akin to a brothel. He is beyond obsessed with her and wants her so badly. However, she apparently has no interest in him whatsoever. He is aware of this and that hurts him greatly. But he isn’t giving up. He continues visiting her workplace to patronize her services and plead with her to “stay” with him.

According to Phil Collins, when he and his Genesis bandmates were writing this song, they thought a lot about brothels in Cuba. This is apparently the reason why the official music video for “Mama” is set in brothel-like environment with working girls moving up and down while the band plays.

Some say this is an anti-abortion song

Despite the explanation given above, many believe that the song is about abortion. According to this school of thought, the narrator speaks from the perspective of an unborn baby in its mother’s womb. The song begins with this fetus describing the atmosphere in the womb where it cannot wait to come out and see its mother.

The narrator then uses the heat and steam in the city to describe the pressures of life which are seemingly forcing its mother to make a decision to get rid of him. It could also be a reference to whatever abortive drug or procedure she may have taken which is worsening his state in her womb.  The narrator pleads for help while reminding its mother of her care for it deep down inside.

In the subsequent lines, the lyrics get more emotional and tense as the narrator begs the mother to feel his heart and not take his life from him. He then describes how much pain he feels, once again speaking of the heat in the city; a reference to the fact that he is now outside the womb but at the wrong time. Like most women leave their aborted fetuses behind, the narrator asks his Mama not to leave him there.

“Mama” Facts

Writing: Phil Collins alongside Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford
Production: Hugh Padgham along with Genesis
Album: Genesis’ 1983 pop rock album also titled “Genesis”
Release: August of 1983

Was this a single from “Genesis”?

Yes. It was the first single to be released from the “Genesis” album. It was subsequently followed by these songs:

  • “That’s All”
  • Home by the Sea
  • “Illegal Alien”
  • “Taking It All Too Hard

Of all the singles from the “Genesis” album, “Mama” was the most commercially successful. Actually having reached position number 4 on the official UK Singles chart, it became the most successful Genesis song in Britain.

It was also very popular all over Europe, reaching the top 10 in these countries

  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Austria
  • Ireland

It wasn’t as big in America as it was in Europe. For example, on America’s “Hot 100”, it only got to a peak of 73.

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