In a quest for inspitation, I’ve been having a quick read through some of my old sets of lyrics. It’s kind of like picking over the carcass of a long-finished Christmas turkey looking for enough tasty bits to complete a soup.
Anyhow, as I was singing along to something or other on the DVD player (I’m currently sans stereo - there’s no story) it struck me that I don’t think that I’ve ever added the word ‘baby’ to any of my lyrics. Not as a self conscious statement that I wouldn’t patronise a woman by equating her to a newborn (anyone that knows me is fully aware that I’m never afraid to be patronising…) but because I try to avoid those ‘filler’ words in a song. I try to say what I mean and I’m not sure what I’d mean by baby. I found myself thinking about this far too much.
Things one might be implying with ‘baby’:
You look like Winston Churchill; You are selfish and demanding by nature; You cry a lot; You smell of baby powder and poo; You are utterly incapable of doing anything for yourself; You’re bald, fat and dribble a lot; You’re incontinent; I don’t understand a word you say…
Other suggestions welcome.
I guessed that this wasn’t it. ‘Baby’ is a nice, punchy, two-syllable filler and it ends up in so many songs just because it’s in so many songs. At some point there was a tipping point and it just became universal. But how did it enter the first few songs? And why does it persist so?
Here’s my unresearched, unsubstantiated theory (ah - blogs; home of the unresearched rant…). Babies bring out the protective side in us all - even non-baby people like myself. They get our unconditional love. We forgive them all of their annoying qualities - and not, I think, because we intellectually know that they can’t help it; we’re much less forgiving of adults who let us down even when circumstances make it inevitable - I think that we forgive them because something inside us is hard-wired to protect our progeny. When you call someone baby, I think that the true meaning there is that you’re offering that uncondtional love. ‘Baby’ means ‘I’ll carry on loving you even though you might well shit all over me’. (I’m not good at tender, am I?)
I don’t think that we think it through that far when we sing ‘baby I love you’, we’re just following an acquired behaviour pattern, but it’s interesting to think about what might be at the root of it. Maybe I’ll pop it into a song soon.
Next blog , the philosophy of ‘Doo-wah-diddy’