On Episode 6 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, I take on the heavier subject matter of For You’s sixth track, “Baby.” Prince fools you into thinking the song is only about love before adding a deeper story of a young couple facing some serious choices.
“Baby, what are we going to do?”
Prince kicks off the second side of For You with a classic ‘70s sounding soul/R&B ballad with about as generic of a title, “Baby,” as possible for the time. The song’s title, accompanied by the music, definitely fooled me into thinking this would be a syrupy sweet song meant for slow dances and junior proms around the country.
Thankfully, Prince throws us some lyrical curveballs by providing some questions (“Should we go on living together? Or should we get married right away?”) and lines, (“Whatever you decide, I’ll still love you, baby.”) that belie the thought that this track was going to be a straightforward love ballad.
“I never thought that this would happen to a very careful man like me.”
This line starts to give the listener some inclination that it’s more than a song about a young couple that isn’t sure how their love will make it beyond the trials and tribulations they are facing. What problems are they facing? Challenges from family and friends? Distance? Considering that Prince was still a teenager when he wrote this song, it makes sense that he would be singing from this perspective. You’d be wrong, though.
Teen pregnancy is a topic that is very relevant to any sexually active young man or woman. It is revealed that “Baby” is about Prince’s girlfriend AND a literal baby. She is pregnant, and they are struggling to figure out how they will handle this news. He barely has enough money for two and doesn’t want to regret what he’s done to her. These lines indeed speak to the struggle of an unexpected pregnancy. The fact that they are both very young isn’t even relevant when it comes to the financial burden that having a child brings.
One has to really listen to the lyrics, which I tend to not do upon first listening to any song, not just Prince’s. He didn’t put the song’s true subject matter out there quite as obviously as Madonna did in “Papa Don’t Preach.” Even though I like that Madonna song, I am thankful Prince didn’t take that approach as it makes the final verse hit that much harder.
“I hope our baby has eyes just like yours.”
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!