Howard Jones – Look Mama
We have said many times that the period between the end of 1984 and the Summer of 1985, up to Live Aid, was the most beautiful, purest and most creative period of the 80s. Personal tastes, of course, but my opinion is that the production released in those six months had no equal throughout the decade (and not even after, of course). At that time many artists reached the peak of their careers. Radio and music channels were an irresistible novelty, and certainly the rotation of videos contributed to the success of many artists.
One of the greatest pop performers of all the 80s, Howard Jones, was already very famous, and one year earlier, in March 1984, he had confirmed his international dimension with the album Human’s Lib, which featured incredible hits such as New Song and What is Love. A few months later, at the beginning of the Los Angeles Olympics, boycotted by the Eastern European countries, he had celebrated the Olympic spirit with Like to Get to Know You Well, with a memorable video in which he filmed with a sweater covered with flags.
Then he started working on his next album, which would consecrate him forever in the history of 80s pop. He gave us a taste (and what a taste!) in February 1985 with the release of the beautiful Things Can Only Get Better, and then in March he had finally launched one of the most beautiful albums of the 80s: Dream into Action.
We are always in the field of personal tastes, but this album is a masterpiece. Of course, we have seen great albums by Duran, Queen, U2, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince. But we have also seen other albums that are and remain masterpieces, which feature an incredible number of fabulous songs, although they may have never come out as singles or have never had a video. These albums include for example Forever Young by Alphaville, Please by Pet Shop Boys, and certainly Dream into Action by Howard Jones.
This great artist with stylish sounds and refined lyrics was ready to launch another beautiful song from this fantastic album. It was April 20, 1985, and the song was Look Mama, which immediately entered the top ten.
The song is about a son being conscious to be grown up, and claiming his freedom from a mother who is too protective and perhaps possessive, as we hear in some verses. A mature position, with love and respect, but firm in claiming not only one’s independence, but also the right to make mistakes and learn from them.
I don’t think honestly that the song was autobiographical; Howard Jones in those days had just turned thirty and was no longer a boy, he had fame and certainly independence, and although unfortunately I don’t know him personally, I think he is a very reserved person on certain subjects. Rather, I guess this may have been his advice to the young fans who listened to him, to the younger generation. An invitation to claim, always in a polite and respectful tone, the right to one’s freedom and, consequently, to one’s own identity, overcoming the excessive care of parents.
Watching the video, I would say that this interpretation could be right: Howard watches from afar the fun of a group of guys who have sneaked out of the house to have fun one evening at the carnival, between bumper cars and neons. And he stares at them with the look of an older brother, an older friend who already lived that story, and graciously invites you to look for your way.
One last curiosity about this beautiful song. In the first verses we hear a dialogue between a child and his mother. The mother talks about a certain Audrey who would be a little mature for him, and the son replies that he doesn’t think she’s mature, he thinks she’s nice. The dialogue comes from a rather well-known film of the 70s, Alice doesn’t live here anymore, in which a widowed mother seeks her way through various troubles accompanied by her son who frequently becomes her support.
The Audrey mentioned in the film was played by Jodie Foster, but the most interesting thing is that from this story a spinoff was born that we all know, namely the tv serial Alice, where the protagonist, the great Linda Lavin, worked as a waitress in a fast food restaurant with the boss of the store and two colleagues, one of whom was a complete airhead. A very famous serial that aired for over ten years all over the world.
Howard Jones on Wikipedia