Music Moment: “I’d like to sing this song especially for my little daughter.” Mama Cass — “Lady Love”

I truly love Cass Elliot and I have boatloads to say about her, another day. Right now I need to dash this off, hustle her through her morning routine and take my sweet little kidlet to kindergarten, and come home and tend to some chores around the house, so I’m scheduling this entry to appear much later today in case I decide on reflection that it needs editing.

Mama Cass Elliot – Lady Love

This song was written by Delaney Bramlett and was the B-side of the extremely successful 7″ single Make Your Own Kind of Music, featuring the eponymous A-side track “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” one of Mama Cass’s earliest solo efforts. (At this point she has hella outsold the Mamas and the Papas, besides being the whole reason they were popular to begin with. In your face, John, you monster … I’ll save that sauce for another day.)

The daughter she refers to at the beginning is Owen Vanessa Elliot, born in 1967, to whom Cass was a single mother until her early death.

Owen was only seven years old when her mother passed away, and Cass did not have the opportunity during her lifetime to reveal to her the identity of her father, which she’d also kept secret from most of her family and friends. I think it’s safe to assume she was waiting until her daughter was curious and emotionally mature enough to ask and receive the answer, and be okay and stable enough to handle whatever came next (like, you can’t lay such heavy stuff on a little kid from day one, don’t people see that??) but she unfortunately died before that time came. I don’t understand why everyone, even sympathetic biographers, gets up in her grill about that. Leave a bitch alone, people. Babymama drama is seriously some really heavy shit. I personally have weighed my options and always played it Cass’s way, and I don’t really care about anyone else’s opinion of the matter. It’s now between me and the kidlet and God, thank you very much, and thank you to my friends who know about it and understand.

Custody of Owen went to Cass’s sister Leah and Leah’s husband, drummer Russ Kunkel, after Cass’s death of a heart attack at 32 –which had nothing to do with choking nor a ham sandwich, and was a total tragedy for the entertainment world– and it ended up being, unexpectedly, Cass’s old bandmate Michelle Phillips who helped Owen track down her biological father in the mid-1980’s.

At some point in the mid-80s, when Owen Elliot was in her late teens, she called Michelle and said, “You have to help me find my father!” Michelle spent a year running down leads through musician friends.

Cass and Mitchie share a giggle on a plane during some of the tough years

Once she had pried loose the name Cass had kept so close to her vest, she placed an ad in a musicians’ publication, urging the man to call an “accountant” (hers), implying a royalty windfall. Like clockwork, Cass’s long-ago secret lover took the bait. When Michelle phoned him, she recalls, “he wasn’t all that shocked,” and, the next day, Owen says, “Michelle gave me a plane ticket and said, ‘Go meet him.’ ” (Owen and Michelle will not reveal the name. Owen says only, “I had envisioned this Norwegian prince.”)

The meeting “answered a lot of questions,” says Owen, who is now married to record producer Jack Kugell and has two children. Since then, she says, “there have been times when I’ve been devastatingly upset about things in my personal life, and I’ve really leaned on Michelle.

“She’s ironically been a mother to me in a way that would make my mom definitely chuckle.” — December 2007, Vanity Fair, “California Dreamgirl,” by Sheila Weller.

Anyways, I can’t believe that I have to type these lyrics up myself, that is a total trip to me, they are NOWHERE online. Maybe I’m just crappy at looking cause it’s so early in the morning. I’m happy to do it really quickly though. I’ll come back and fix typos later.

(spoken) I’d like to sing this song especially for my little daughter.

I don’t require a lot to make it
times are hard but I can take it
as long as I got my little someone to hold on to

I’ve been down but I don’t mind it
what I’ve lost I’m sure I’ll find it
as long as I’ve got my little someone to hold on to

A little sugar to sweeten my tea
A little girl just for me
Hard times I can rise above
With a little help from Lady Love

I’ve heard it said if you’re strong
you can make it all alone
but I’ve got to have my little someone to hold on to

A little sugar to sweeten my tea
A little girl to set me free
Hard times I will rise above
With a little help from Lady Love, Lady Love

She came along just in time
Time to ease my worried mind
and now I’ve got my little someone to hold on to

Well, time to go make sure my lady love has been getting dressed and brushing her teeth and hair all this time. Then we will sit and have breakfast and she’ll fill me in on the dramz with this boy she likes and her best friend (who has already stolen one guy: typical). Catch you on the flip side!

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18 Responses to “Music Moment: “I’d like to sing this song especially for my little daughter.” Mama Cass — “Lady Love””

  1. Andrea Says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this up! I heard this song on the radio last night by accident, and it was one of those things where the message was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment, and it really ‘saved me’ from a bad frame of mind. I too am a single mother with one little daughter, five years old, in kindergarten. Sometimes I get really resentful at the world for putting me out in the cold, so to speak, as far as marriage and commitment goes, but in the end I still have this wonderful beautiful adorable little person to wake up with and laugh with every day… And isn’t that making it all worthwhile? I can pour my hugs and kisses onto her, and it’s all right. 🙂 So anyway, thank you… My daughter and I are singing along to this song together now… Please don’t ever take it down from this page!

  2. Heidi Adams Says:

    I am so glad I found this song! I am writing a book about my mother’s life and needed this. She used to play this for me growing up as she was a single mom and I was her only child. Times were hard and she must have related to this song and Mama Cass.
    thank you- it made me cry!

  3. C. Fayne Says:

    Hi Owen,
    I might of wrote you a long time ago!
    I was in the room next to your Mother (Cedars) when you where born.
    My daughter was born May 1-67.
    Your mother and I talked at the nursary, and would walk back to to our rooms.
    Your Mother was in a wheel chair, as she had a C-sections…

    Omg your Mother was SO freaking proud of you..
    I remember her room with paintings on the wall..Maybe I’m saying too much!!..

    Your Mother was a funny Happy Women, and had a voice like a Canarie..Although not soft lol..

    • Owen Says:

      That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing!

      • Richard Michael Fairclough Says:

        Owen, your Mother was booked to play in Wakefield Yorkshire England at Wakefield Thetare Club by Martin Dale when she sadly died…a fantastic voice. I would have loved to have seen her ‘live’……tell me do you sing ?
        Regards from an English fan…Richard.

  4. Mike Dantico Says:

    I had a single mom and i was the only child too…. I know Very little about my father, nor does anyone else. Naturally she LOVED Mamma Cass…. And totally got her! ~ Mike Dantico ;0)

  5. Renata Says:

    I’m a little late here, this post is almost a year old, but Mama Cass is simply the best singer ever. I have a post about her on my blog, and wordpress showed me yours as related.

    It’s hard to find her lyrics. Sweet Believer is nowhere to be seen, for example.

    I’m also a single Mom, and play it like Cass too. I adore to sing Lady Love to my little daughter!

    • Diane Saks Says:

      I was close when I thought the baby daddy was Dave Mason. Maybe I am right and maybe I am wrong. Owen was born out of wedlock in the 1960s, which was really embarassing then. Some people think James Hendrick was the father, except she was married to him at that time, and probably cheated on him with one of her musician friends. Owen wants to honor her mother’s secret. That is that story. We will know the truth when we know the truth, until then let us work on our own fame and fortune.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    There is an item that James Hendrick was the biological father, but from what I had believed, Cass was married to Hendrick when she had an extra marital affair that resulted in a pregnancy. That was tragic back in the 1960s. I don’t think I was that far off when I thought the father was Dave Mason. As painfully curious as I am to know who the biological father, the one important person who should have known, does know. Let’s get on with becoming the stars of our lives. If we ever do find out who is the biological father, that will be fine. If not, at least we will be on the road to our own fortune and fame.

  7. Dale Lewis UK Says:

    I love Cass’s music and I was moved by her Eddie Fuegel Biography. I am looking for a album of her music but all the ones I have seen seem incomplete. They all lack the song from Puffnstuff, “Different” which I like. The song kinda sums up Cass’s life, although possibly Cass herself might resent this comparison. I wish this song could be put on a new all-inclusive album. Cass was a beautiful person, and the most graceful dancer of the mamas and papas

  8. Owen Says:

    My mother was married to Hendricks to keep him from being drafted, but the marriage was purely platonic. My biological father and my mother had a one night stand….here I am…

  9. Diana Rummer Says:

    Owen’s biological father is Chuck Day. He played guitar for Johnny Rivers and The Mamas and The Papas. He is now deceased.

  10. susievkaufman Says:

    After a Crosby/Nash tour ended, I briefly helped take care of Owen and Nathaniel, now living in Russell and Leah’s house up off of Mulholland Drive. The children were delightful, as was Leah.

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