Nana Mouskouri

There’s a 90% chance that music my mom listened to when I was a kid will become my bath music as an adult. Mom music is calm and soothing, like my mom. There’s also a 90% chance that the music my mom used to listen to will be by sung by a powerful European woman with a deep voice and vague, sweeping generalizations about love. Édith Piaf, the French Kiss soundtrack, Françoise Hardy and Nana Mouskouri played on repeat in my house and I’m a more emotionally open person because of it.

Recently, for my birthday, my parents drove me up to their cottage and made me coffee and let me read quietly all day. When it was time to eat, my mom asked me what music I wanted to listen to for my birthday dinner. When I said I didn’t know, she went through her case and put on Édith Piaf. She couldn’t see me from the kitchen but I teared up a bit because it was exactly what I wanted to hear at that time. My mom knows my music feelings better than I do.

Nana Mouskouri’s music feels more like mom music than anybody else’s to me. Her voice is rich and loud but chill. She covers your mom’s favourites and does them better because her voice is so smooth. Every song she sings feels like she woke up from a nap at 3pm, dragged herself into a recording studio with a glass of cold white wine AND some black coffee and just decided she would record a song for my mom. It always makes me think of my mom when I hear her which is almost never.

Last weekend when my sisters and I made a spontaneous trip up to the cottage again this summer, I went through their cds and found the very best of Nana Mouskouri. The cover makes her look like she’s a sex therapist and totally undersells her talent and beauty. Nana sings about love shamelessly. Most of her songs have the word “love” in the title like there’s nothing else worth singing about. And there almost isn’t. Only Love. Love Changes Everything. Love is a Rose. Love is Like a Butterfly. She’s overwhelmed and it disarms me. She sings about love like a teenager writes about it, the best way. I can be dismissive about so many things my mom suggests but her music taste is so on point to me now.

When listening to Nana, my problems seem trivial when there’s so much to celebrate. She’s in her 80s now, and definitely not touring anymore. I hope she’s living in an old house in Greece, in love and rich as shit and laughing about how seriously I take her music now.