“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
Waa-oh-oh-oh

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?

It’s A Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod Boomer World

The Mods, a subculture that took its name from a shortened form of Moderns, appeared in Great Britain around 1958. This group of young people adopted the title because they listened to modern jazz (and in the ’60s, psychedelic rock, soul and R&B), and adopted a fastidious mode of modern dress that bordered on the obsessive. Members were known to be club go-ers, often attending three or more nights per week, and identified as dressing with crisp lines, bold colors and impeccable cleanliness. They often were retail clerks and the like by day — working class people — and Mods by night.

Mod men began tailoring their Italian and French suits, which began with the garments’ modern style and thin lapels, to individualize their style. Many mods were either tailors, or had tailors in their families or circle of friends, so the modifications were available and affordable. Women also adopted this style, giving Mod fashion a more androgynous look with pants, shorter hair and dresses that did not stress body shape. In the early 1960s, the Mods hung out at selected clubs, including those on Carnaby Street in London. Fashion boutiques quickly sprouted up in the three block area in the late fifties and early sixties, inspired by these fashion dandies. Mary Quant became known as a chief designer of Mod fashions, which led to the popularization of the mini skirt by 1965. Though not the inventor of the mini skirt, it was her designs that entered the public realm. Top models of the day, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, exemplified the Mod style in magazines and on the runways. Mod fashion was also influenced by Op and Pop Art of the day.

Bands of the era began playing the clubs, and shopping the fashions in and around Carnaby Street. Early adopters of Mod fashions were Small Faces, The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Who and The Rolling Stones — check out photos of the era and you’ll see band members decked out in thin lapel or lapel-less suits, bob-cut hair, checks, polka dots, tailored velvet jackets and pants, and shirts with pointed collars, chest and cuff ruffles. Very probably it was these British Invasion bands that brought Mod style to the attention of the American boomer population. It also didn’t hurt that the bright colors and bold geometrics of the style were perfect for a TV industry beginning to broadcast every program in color.

Interestingly enough, The Beatles started out dressing as Rockers, which was a second subculture group that took their style of dress from movies like The Wild One, with denim pants and leather jackets being their primary influence. Photos of the band before they hit American shores show the group playing onstage wearing jeans and leather jackets, or leather jackets and leather pants. Somewhere before their American tour in 1964, the band shifted to Mod style. More than one music historian claims the shift was for the American audience, since the Rocker style was associated with juvenile delinquents and miscreants throughout the fifties by the uptight Americans. Judging by the reaction they got from older folks regarding their hairstyles and higher-heeled boots when they did arrive in 1964, the sartorial change may have been best for their career in America.

Contrast the style of the Beatles circa 1962 and then in 1964, on their first Ed Sullivan appearance:

By 1967, elements of psychedelic and bohemian fashion blended with the Mod and Rockers style to produce the eclectic fashions of the late 1960s. Mod as a singular fashion moment was all but over. The Beatles had popularized an Eastern aesthetic and the Nehru jacket that year, and men’s hair became longer and facial hair was back in vogue.

Mister Boomer flirted with Mod style when he was able to, within the constraints of his parochial school. Throughout the early sixties, even though his parents had the final say on his clothing purchases, he favored brightly colored shirts, but took the plunge himself in 1967 with his first Mod-like flowered print shirt. He wore it on occasion into the 1970s. He has had several polka-dot and flower prints since that time.

Today Mod-inspired fashions are back in the sotres, updated for current tastes. This is most apparent in the polka-dot and flower print shirts and dresses now available through retail outlets.

How about you, boomers? Was your early wardrobe influenced by the Mod style?