Gillian Welch was away from home one Mother’s Day in the early part of the 2000s when she was struck by a desire to sing for her mom. She wrote a new song, appropriately titled “Happy Mother’s Day,” and called her mother to play it into the answering machine.
On Friday, ahead of Sunday’s holiday, she releases the original demo recording, captured on a reel-to-reel. It’s a short but undeniably sweet song, with the folksinger-songwriter crooning in a nursery rhyme cadence: “Oh mama, I hope you know that I always love you so/not just the one day when we all say/happy happy Mother’s Day.”
Welch is releasing the song via Acony Records, the indie label she and David Rawlings launched in 2001.
“We can’t always be with the ones we love, but that can’t stop us from saying ‘I love you,’” Welch says in a statement. “I wrote this song one May when I was far away and couldn’t be with my mom on Mother’s Day. Then I called and sang it into her answering machine when I knew everybody’d be sitting down to eat. Here is the original home demo for the song, recorded on a portable reel to reel.”