James Brown

Mother Popcorn

Composed by James Brown / Pee Wee Ellis

Song Review by

While Sir Mix-a-Lot's 1992 double-platinum Top 30 R&B/number one pop hit "Baby Got Back" celebrated a purposeful posterior, James Brown had already popularized that body part (covertly) in the late '60s with "Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother for Me)." Bountiful behinds would be the theme of such later Brown hits as "Hot Pants (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)" ("stand up baby let me see where you're coming from!") and "For Goodness Sakes, Look at Those Cakes." The singer's bandleader and frequent songwriting partner, Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, came up with the rhythm for "Mother Popcorn" while waiting in line at a Cincinnati music store. The "popcorn" part of the time was taken from the title of a popular dance called "the popcorn." Tracked at the recording studio of Cincinnati-based King Records on May 13, 1969, "Mother Popcorn" was quickly run through the label's pressing plant and distribution arm to capitalize on the hot "popcorn" dance trend. Co-written by producer Brown and Ellis, "Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother for Me)" stayed at number one R&B for two weeks, going to number 11 pop in summer 1969. The original version of the song "You Got to Have a Mother for Me" was bumped from the release schedule due to the fast-breaking (quick) sales of "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open up the Door, I'll Get It Myself)," which went to number three R&B and number 20 pop in spring 1969. It also served as the swan song for Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, who left soon after its success to concentrate on making jazz music in New York, helped in part by the efforts of bandleader Dave Matthews. It was the sole charting single from Brown's number two R&B (for five weeks)/Top 26 pop LP, It's a Mother.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sex Machine 1970 Culture Factory 5:50
No Image 1977 Polydor
The CD Of J.B: Sex Machine & Other Soul Classics 1985 Polydor 3:11
Star Time 1991 Polydor 6:18
20 All-Time Greatest Hits! 1991 Polydor 3:11
Foundations of Funk - A Brand New Bag: 1964-1969 1996 Island/Def Jam / Universal Music 9:03
40th Anniversary Collection 1996 Polydor / Universal Music 3:16
Best of James Brown [Japan] 2002 Universal Distribution 3:20
Get Up 2005
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution
And I Do Just What I Want 2006 Spectrum Music
Gold 2007 Universal 3:16
The 50 Greatest Songs 2007 Universal / Universal Distribution 3:19
Sex Machine/Gettin' Down to It 2010 Universal Music 5:51
Get on Up: The James Brown Story [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2014 Polydor
5 Classic Albums 2014 Polydor 5:50
blue highlight denotes editor's pick