“Baby” Songs Were Boomer Songs

Mister Boomer hates “pet” names. He always has. It hardly seems possibly to walk around a home improvement store these days without hearing the strains of “honey,” “snookums,” or “muffin” emanating from one or the other significants in a couple. One of the worst of these so-called terms of endearment is, “baby” (or the less formal, “babe”). This one always baffled Mister B, as he thought those little bundles of joy and poo had cornered the market on the label. Who wants to be called that? Anecdotally, Mister B has noticed a decline in the use of this term, but measured by the number of songs that featured it in the 1960s, that decade had to mark the peak of its usage.

Even though Mister B isn’t the type to use such pronoun substitutes, he does, however, still enjoy many of the “baby” songs of the 1960s. There are dozens that feature “baby” in the title and/or prominently in the lyrics. Most appear to be either pleas for forgiveness, pity or permission, while others are pledges of undying loyalty. Something they all have in common is a memorable melody and many have legendary musical openings. Also, they have all been covered by multiple artists through the boomer years and beyond. Here are Mister B’s Top 10 favorites of the genre:

10. Baby, Now That I’ve Found You: The Foundations (1967)

Baby, now that I found you I can’t let you go
I build my world around you, I need you so
Baby even though, you don’t need me

“Baby” is heard 10 times in this song. A catchy tune, it has staying power. Donny & Marie Osmond covered it in 1977.

9. Cry Like a Baby: The Box Tops (1968)

When I think about the good love you gave me
I cry like a baby
Living without you is driving me crazy
I cry like a baby

Despite the crying baby references, Mister B took notice of the use of the electric sitar in the the song. Cher covered it in 1969, and Petula Clark released her version in 1971.

8. Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat: Herman’s Hermits (1965)

Every time I see you looking my way
Baby, baby, can’t you hear my heartbeat?
In the car, or walking down the highway
Baby, baby, can’t you hear my heartbeat?

This song topped out at #2 on the charts, blocked from the top spot by Stop! In the Name of Love by The Supremes. Marianne Faithfull released her version that same year.

7. Baby, I’m Yours: Barbara Lewis (1965)

Baby, I’m yours
And I’ll be yours, until the stars fall from the sky
Yours, until the rivers all run dry
In other words, until I die

Nice melody, but talk about being a little obsessed! You may want to cool it a little, Barbara, or he may bolt for the door. Cass Elliot recorded the song in 1972.

6. Baby, Please Don’t Go: Them (1964)

Now baby, please don’t go
Now baby, please don’t go
Please don’t go back to New Orleans
You know I love you so
Baby, please don’t go

This song is an old blues number from 1925, illustrating that the term was used for decades before Them put their bluesy-rock stamp on it (with a 19-year old Van Morrison belting out the vocals). Big Joe Williams recorded it in 1935, John Lee Hooker in 1949 and Muddy Waters in 1953.
Oddly enough, this song was the B-side to another hit from Them, Gloria.

5. I Got the Feelin’: James Brown (1968)

I got the feelin’
Baby, baby I got the feelin’
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby

This woman is treating James badly, but he can’t fight the feeling. How can she refuse his string of “baby” pleas, oozing urgency and lust? Boomers couldn’t, taking the song to #1 on the R&B charts, and #6 on the pop charts.

4. Don’t Worry Baby: The Beach Boys (1964)

Don’t worry, baby
Don’t worry, baby
Everything will turn out alright

Brian Wilson has said the song was the male answer to The Ronettes, Be My Baby, but Mister B is getting ahead of himself. Read on.

3. Baby, I Need Your Lovin’: The Four Tops (1964)

Baby, I need your lovin’
Got to have all your lovin’

A true classic boomer song, it did not crack the Top 10 list, topping out at #11. Johnny Rivers had better luck with it in 1967; his version hit #3 on the charts.

2. Be My Baby: The Ronettes (1963)

So won’t you
Be my, be my baby
My one and only baby
Say you’ll be my darlin’
Be my baby now

Certainly the quintessential song of the genre, here is the female voice asking the question.

1. Ooh, Baby, Baby: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (1965)

I did you wrong, my heart went out to play
But in the game, I lost you
What a price to pay, I’m crying
Ooh, baby, baby
Ooh, baby, baby

Was there ever any doubt that Smokey’s song would be number one for Mister Boomer? It is the most covered song The Miracles ever recorded. Versions include those by Ella Fitzgerald (1969), Todd Rundgren (1973) and the one that is almost as famous as Smokey’s original, Linda Ronstadt (1978).

When it came to “baby” songs in the 1960s, the hits just kept on coming. Did Mister B miss one of your favorites, boomers?

Magazines Were Boomers’ Windows on the World

It may be hard for today’s generation to believe that before the advent of the Internet, boomers got the bulk of their information about everything from pop culture to international affairs through newspapers and magazines. Newspapers were as necessary as the delivery from the milkman, but it was magazines that truly captured the hearts and minds of boomer families. Television programming began to cut into the circulation of magazines, but Mister Boomer is pretty sure if you ask any boomer, he or she will tell you that their family subscribed to several magazines that were promptly delivered to their mailbox.

There was a magazine for every possible constituency, gender and age. Many had already been active for decades, while others got their start in the Boomer Era. For boys, there was Boy’s Life, published by the Boy Scouts of America (since 1911). As they grew to be teens, they might share dad’s copy of Popular Mechanics (since 1902). Burgeoning car enthusiasts had Hot Rod, first published in 1948, making it a true boomer publication. Road & Track joined the fun in 1952, having been sporadically published between 1947 to ’49.

Young girls read Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine. Fashion tips could be procured from Seventeen as girls became teens.

The fathers of boomers had a series of magazines aimed solely at the male market. Among the most popular were Esquire (first published in 1933), the aforementioned Popular Mechanics and Playboy (first published in 1953). There were also a host of other men’s magazine that included racy photos of women (for the time). Some may have piqued the interest of boomer boys when they discovered where their fathers kept their archive (but not Mister B or Brother Boomer; their father did not subscribe to any of them). Many of the magazines, such as Esquire, featured fiction by some of the up-and-coming writers of the day, including Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese, among others.

Boomer mothers had a treasure trove of magazines designed just for them. Centered around family life, child rearing, cooking and house organizing, these included McCall’s (1897-2000), Good Housekeeping (since 1891), Family Circle (since 1932), Better Homes & Gardens (1925) and Ladies’ Home Journal (1891).

Then there were the magazines shared by the whole family. These were either general interest, photo-heavy magazines like Life (1936-72), Look (1937-71) and National Geographic (1888), or news magazines like Time (1923), Newsweek (1933) and U.S. News & World Report (1933). Many families added Consumer Reports (1936), the first magazine to offer unbiased product testing, a handy resource in the age of boomer consumerism.

If there was a single magazine that bridged the gap among boomers of all ages, it would have to be Reader’s Digest (1920). Designed with 30 articles per issues, so people could read one a day, the magazine became the best-selling publication in the country for decades. Many boomers will recall their parents enjoying the columns, “Humor in Uniform” or “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Many boomers will also recall that their friends and relatives, if not their own parents, kept the current issue in the bathroom for “library” reading.

Mister Boomer’s family subscribed to many magazines through the years. Mister B’s mother was partial to Good Housekeeping and McCall’s while his father enjoyed Life and Look, as well as Reader’s Digest. Brother Boomer got a Newsweek subscription when he was in high school. Mister Boomer and his sister did not subscribe to monthly magazines, but bought them on occasion. Mister B paged through Life and Look, and often used the photos for art projects for school, but his favorite was Mad, which he purchased sporadically between 1962 and ’68. His sister liked the celebrity photos of the Beatles, Bobby Sherman and Richard Chamberlain that she could get in Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, when the mood struck her to purchase them.

How about you, boomers? What magazines did you and your family subscribe to?