Amy Grant – Baby Baby

First Hit #1: April 27, 1991

Now that we’re getting older, it’s possible that we will meet young people in the course of our lives who were not around in 1991. They may ask what it was like to live in 1991. It’s a simple answer, it’s the video for Baby, Baby.

Oh sure, there were other things happening in the year, and other big hits, but if you want a concise summary of the experience of living in 1991, there is no better summary. The often odd fashion, the big hair, the way things are lit, that’s exactly what I remember 1991 being like. Plus, it features Baby, Baby, which seemed to be even more common than its two week chart stay would suggest. Hearing the song takes me right back to my childhood, just because the song was everywhere, just like how most of the population had the same hair as Grant, including many men.

But “familiar” isn’t quite a good enough summary for the music here. Grant wrote the song about her love for her newborn daughter, and once you know this, it becomes somewhat more interesting, since there’s no reason to assume it’s a love song about a man. It’s quite vague, but it’s more about the excitement about having someone in your life that you can be in love with. Grant’s performance itself is a good reason for the success, she does sound joyous, and while the song is otherwise quite standard as a pop composition goes, Grant is pushing her vocal into new places and never quite going in expected directions. More than anything, she’s having fun, and in the process making a song that is just what 1991 is all about.

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One Response to Amy Grant – Baby Baby

  1. RBerman says:

    Innit funny that when someone writes a song about an actual baby, everyone assumes it’s a romantic metaphor? But no, a real baby! Do people really still have those? Chalk up another lyrical entendre for Ms. Grant; admittedly the sexy male model in the video gave a bit of unfair misdirection, while simultaneously generating clucking sounds from the Christian constituency who knew that Grant’s marriage to singer/songwriter/talk show host Gary Chapman was on the rocks.

    The unconventional song structure includes back-and-forth key changes and no discrete chorus, though there is a clear eight bar instrumental bridge near the end. Almost all the music was programmed and performed by co-author Keith Thomas, with sparse electric guitar by Grant’s longtime sidekick Jerry McPherson, and her usual background vocalists as well.

    Hoped-for duet partner Aretha Franklin never materialized, so Amy was left to go this one solo. Not that she was unready, eight albums and fourteen years into her career before finally hitting the top. 1991 could be called “Amy Year” with some justification– not just due to the ubiquity of this song, but also due to the other five singles the “Heart in Motion” album generated over fifteen months. The whole album was a piece of finely crafted pop, a critical and commercial (5x platinum) success, made with mostly the same crew with whom she’d been toiling for years. What different stars aligned in 1991? Did A&M just finally decide to throw their weight behind her in servicing radio stations? Neither Thomas nor Grant ever achieved this peak of commercial success again.

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