Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started in March 2020: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify Click here.) span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)
Waaa! That’s the sound many news outlets predicted we’d hear constantly over the next two years. But the C.D.C. just released data indicating that the U.S. birthrate has dropped to the lowest level since 1979. What to do? Idea. Here are 23 “baby” songs! Listen up!
- “Isn’t She Lovely” Stevie Wonder. Born Stevland Morris, Stevie recorded this celebration of his daughter, Aisha Morris, in 1976, from his Songs in the Key of Lifealbum. That’s Aisha herself doing the baby sounds and gurgling.
- “Baby I Need Your Loving” Four Tops. Famous R&B vocal quartet from Detroit sings this 1964 Holland-Dozier-Holland composition. Originally, they called themselves The Four Aims.
- “Maybe Baby” Buddy Holly & The Crickets. Charles Hardin Holley renamed himself Buddy Holly, joined forces with The Crickets, and became one of the most influential singer-songwriters in the history of rock. Still stunning that he died in a plane crash at age 22.
- “Baby Love” The Supremes. Another Holland-Dozier-Holland composition and big hit from 1964. Diana Ross sings lead, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson provide the “baby baby baby” backup. In case you hadn’t noticed, there are A LOT of “baby” songs.
- “Sweet Baby James” James Taylor. James writes and sings his signature song from his breakthrough album of the same name. He wrote the song for his brother’s son (that would be his nephew), also named James. It’s a good thing he didn’t write the song after his other brother’s son, Clem. “Sweet Baby Clem?” No.
- “Daughter” Loudon Wainwright III. Witty songwriter Wainwright, husband to folksinger Kate McGarrigle, father of Rufus and Martha, got divorced, had a relationship with singer Suzzy Roche and had a daughter. This song isn’t about any of these kids because Peter Blegvad wrote it, not Loudon. This was our “daughter-daddy” song at my daughter’s wedding. I’m currently verklempt.
- “B-A-B-Y” Carla Thomas. “The Queen of Memphis Soul” and daughter of soul singer Rufus Thomas sings this 1966 hit written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.
- “A Father’s First Spring” The Avett Brothers. Scott Avett wrote this touching tribute to his daughter Eleanor after her birth in 2008. As I’ve said before, once we’re “open,” see this band live.
- “(You’re) Having My Baby” Paul Anka, Odia Coates. The I’m having my baby song. R&B singer Coates sings the perfect accompaniment. This song hit #1 in 1974. As a songwriter, Anka was an absolute hit machine.
- “There Goes My Baby” The Drifters. R&B group formed in New York City. Ben E. King co-wrote and sings lead on this 1959 smash hit and famous “baby” song. The other Drifters do well singing “Doo Doo” and “Bo WA” in the background.
- “Don’t Worry Baby” The Beach Boys. Legendary “baby” song written by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian, the B-side of “I Get Around.” Totally different sounds, but I’m partial to this. Best Brian Wilson rumor. He once filled his living room with sand to replicate a beach.
- “Be My Baby” The Ronettes. Originally from Spanish Harlem and naming themselves “The Darling Sisters,” this is an all-time great girl group led by Veronica Bennett. She later married Phil and became Ronnie Spector. Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector wrote this huge hit in 1959. One year, Phil surprised Ronnie with an unusual Christmas present: adopted twin sons.
- “Ooo Baby Baby” Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Tremendous Motown group led by the man Bob Dylan called his favorite songwriter. Smokey and fellow Miracle Pete Moore wrote this lament in 1965.
- “Father And Daughter” Paul Simon. Paul wrote this song for the 2002 animated film The Wild Thornberrys Movie. He wrote it for his daughter Lulu, who was seven. His son Adrian, 10, sings backup. Another song that makes me verklempt.
- “Baby’s In Black” The Beatles. From the 1964 album Beatles For Sale. Not a “baby” song at all. “My baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue.” Felt the need for the Lads.
- “Baby, I’m Yours” Barbara Lewis. Michigan soul singer Lewis sings this 1965 hit written by Van McCoy. The song has found its way into several movies, including The Bridges of Madison County and Baby Driver.
- “Child Of Mine” Carole King. There I go. Losing it again. Verrrrklempt. This time it’s because of King’s 1970 song about her, yes, child. James Taylor sings backup and plays acoustic guitar.
- “Baby It’s You” The Shirelles. The New Jersey girl group led by Shirley Owens sings this 1962 Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon, Mack David composition that became a big hit for them and later, The Beatles.
- “Hey! Baby” Bruce Channel. One-hit wonder Channel, from Jacksonville, Texas, is known for this huge 1962 number one hit with terrible punctuation. He also recorded “Mr. Bus Driver,” a song that for some reason I remember.
- “Father And Son” Yusaf/Cat Stevens. From 1970 and Tea For The Tillerman. Another one that gets to me. An emotional song about a troubled father-son relationship that Stevens sings as a duet–with himself. He sort of changes voices and it sort of works. Well, I’m crying.
- “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” The Foundations. British multiracial soul band sings this 1967 hit. Their follow-up hit was “Build Me Up, Buttercup.” They were considered the first British band to emulate the Motown sound.
- “Cry Baby” Garnet Mimms and The Enchanters. One of my favorite all-time band names. Garnet, from Philly, recorded this song in 1963. Janis Joplin recorded her bigger hit version in 1970, but I prefer the original.
- “I Got You Babe” Sonny & Cher. Husband and wife, pop duo, TV stars, and originally backup singers for Phil Spector. This is their biggest hit. They recorded their version in 1965, backed by L.A.’s famous session musicians, The Wrecking Crew.
And there we have it… 23 “baby” songs culled especially for you from about a million choices. Some advice:
Don’t Forget to Disinfect and… PLAY IT LOUD!
The link again: Click here.
James Taylor’s other brother does not have a son named Clem. I don’t know if he even has another brother.
I did hear that Brian Wilson filled his living room with sand to replicate a beach.
Phil Spector did surprise Ronnie with adopted twins for Christmas. Good present. My best? I once gave my wife a blender.
LAST WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
In the “Teenager” face-off, “Teenager In Love” sped past “Teen Angel.”
THIS WEEK’S POLL QUESTION:
Favorite “Baby” song: “Baby, It’s You,” “Baby Love,” “There Goes My Baby” or other? Who you got?
Until next week,