A Lesson in Context

The year is 1972. You are a husband, a father and the family breadwinner. You have always respected authority and expected your authority, in turn, to be respected. But, all around you, the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Boys are wearing their hair long and dropping out. Girls are wearing their skirts short and burning bras -- even your teenaged daughter, who's gone out and left the record player on.

As you approach the stereo to turn it off, today's song is playing.

Mott the Hoople - Momma's Little Jewel

You listen as the band cocks up the intro, but, rather than doing another take, keeps the tape rolling and plows ahead with the song. "Rank amateurs!" you snicker to yourself.

Then, the first verse of lyrics hits you in the gut: "Momma's little jewel, just out of school, fresh from the nuns that made you / Don't know why, but I'm gonna try to reincelibate you."

You're not sure exactly what that means, but it sure sounds like a threat against your young daughter and indeed all the young daughters of America.

You are enraged. You can't even find the words to express... As you stand there, gaping, gasping, grasping for the name of your Congressman, a squeaking, atonal saxophone sticks out its golden tongue at you. Before you can even find the wits to respond, the song ends, abruptly, with the sound of the tape recorder being turned off.


In its time, "Momma's Little Jewel," from the 1972 Mott the Hoople album All The Young Dudes, must have struck terror into the hearts of many a straight arrow. It is a song that just does not play by the rules. The band never equaled it. Few ever have.

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