Those familiar with my work will probably already know that, not only did I break my long-ago vow to “never write a song with the word baby in it” (made when I was a TS Eliot and Upanishad infatuated college poet just discovering that — for getting girls — a guitar on the quad beat a stack of dog eared poems in a basement reading on the second Monday of the month in the bowels of the Student Union building), but that at some point I became obsessed with what we shall henceforth refer to as “baby songs.”
Or, perhaps more properly, capital-B Baby songs, since, in many of these songs, “Baby” is more character name than endearment.
So, who is “Baby”?
At first, I thought, myself, that Baby was what some of us, back in the cosmic-gestalt enthralled 60s, called The Other — which, depending on context could refer to everything from God to one’s girlfriend, boyfriend, or pet dog.
And there is certainly something to that notion.
But as the character of Baby continued to develop over a number of songs (yes — someday there will be a Baby opera), I began to realize that Baby was also me — or some perversely vexing, chronically importunate, and ultimately, thoroughly disquieted part of myself.
[It should also be noted that I owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the man who wrote what I consider the Grandaddy of All Baby Songs, Brian Eno, and who gave us all some of my first and most important lessons in postmodern pop. That song, of course, would be the brilliant paen to a truly smoldering beauty, Baby’s On Fire. In fact, Little Baby Doll even contains a passing reference to that 70s underground classic.]