Matilda Mother

Matilda Mother
"Matilda Mother"
Song by Pink Floyd from the album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Released 5 August 1967
Recorded February 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:08
Label Columbia/EMI (UK) Capitol (US)
Writer Syd Barrett
Producer Norman Smith
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn track listing
"Lucifer Sam"
"Matilda Mother"

"Matilda Mother" is a song by British psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd, and is featured on their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967).[1][2] Written by Syd Barrett, the song is sung mostly by Richard Wright with Barrett joining in on choruses and singing the whole last verse.



The lyrics quote fragments of fairy tales as read from a book to the singer by his mother ("read(ing) the scribbly black", referring to writing in a book as a child sees it), and in the chorus he implores her to "tell me more".[3] Palacios argues that "Matilda Mother" represents a common theme in Barrett's work: his nostalgia for childhood and awareness that it could not be regained.[4]

The song begins with an unusual bass and organ interlude. Roger Waters repeatedly plays the B on the 16th fret of the G-string by varying the lower note from D to F sharp on the D string. Unlike many older beat and pop songs, the guitar rarely plays chords, and most unusually for Western music, Richard Wright provides an organ solo in the F# Phrygian dominant scale with a natural sixth instead of its typical flatted counterpart. The song ends with a simple E mixolydian-based waltz with wordless vocal harmonies of Richard Wright and Syd Barrett.[citation needed]

Barrett originally wrote the song around verses from Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales, in which a series of naughty children, including Matilda, receive their (often gruesome) comeuppance. He was forced to rewrite and re-record the track when Belloc's estate unexpectedly denied permission to use these lyrics.[5]

On the Masters of Rock compilation album, the song was misspelled "Mathilda Mother".


Alternative versions

A previously unheard rendition has been released in a 40th anniversary reissue of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn; parts of this version's lyrics are also from Belloc's Cautionary Tales, i.e. Jim and Henry King, whereas the chorus is the same as in the standard version.


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ Reisch, George A. Pink Floyd and Philosophy: Careful With that Axiom, Eugene!. Chicago: Open Court, 2007, ISBN 978-0-81-269636-3, p. 234.
  4. ^ Palacios, Julian. Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd: Dark Globe. London: Plexus, 2010, ISBN 978-0-85-965431-9, p. 236
  5. ^ "Syd's Fractured Fairy Tales". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 

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