Patti Austin and James Ingram – Baby Come to Me

First Hit #1: February 19, 1983

Soul never goes away. The production might change, but it’s the way soul songs are sung that is one of the most constant figures in pop music. One can see the thread continuing from the origin of the charts to today’s top selling pop performers. The popularity fades in and out, but it’s always there, because it’s always got that raw appeal to it. Baby Come to Me is a pretty good example of what soul became in the ’80s, with a couple of strong voices singing powerfully over a lightly funky bug mostly unremarkable arrangement. This is a vocalist showcase, and everything else is just there to keep the voice in focus – not much matters outside of what’s being sung. It isn’t the most distinct of songs, but it’s a good one, and the lightly funky sound keeps it from fading into the background.

Which probably explains why it was a hit, since it happened to be the theme song for a character on a soap opera. The soaps haven’t exactly aged well, people seem to have forgotten their never ending stories of intrigue and infidelity, but in the ’80s they were a sensation, and actually influenced the tide of pop culture. We’re never going to get another Luke and Laura moment, but personally that’s probably for the best.

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2 Responses to Patti Austin and James Ingram – Baby Come to Me

  1. Robert Berman says:

    In the early 20th century, singing was very much a part of popular culture. You went to baseball games and had a singalong of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” You went to the movies, and in between the newsreel and the cartoon there would be an audience singalong of “Camptown Races” or another pop chestnut, and you’d “follow the bouncing ball” to track the lyrics. These days, the only places you’re likely to find yourself singing are at rock concerts (an expensive and thus frequent endeavor, at which the stage music is so loud you can’t hear your own voice), and at church. Thus church music has been a training ground for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Britney Spears. Even the term “Soul music” reminds us where folks like Sam Cooke (& the Soul Stirrers) and Whitney Houston got their start, before their “Behind the Music” ascents and fiery crashes.

    So it’s no surprise that soul music puts the vocalist front and center, so that the Mariah Careys and Boyz II Mens of the world can take us on a rollercoaster ride of melisma and falsetto, which is the main attraction. When you cast Paul Newman as your leading man, the cinematographer knows to give the viewer a lot of closeups of his blue eyes. So the stereotypical love lyrics and generic soft rock production can be excused when servicing a good melody and a great singer. Or in this case, two.

  2. Robert Berman says:

    P.S. I wish there was such a thing as a “lightly funky bug”! A felicitious typo.

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