Back in 1988, a collection of covers of Disney songs by various rock artists came out. It’s stunning because it wasn’t popular rockers; they were cult figures and also-rans whose takes on Disney classics was ingenious to say the least. Los Lobos’ cover of “I Wanna be Like You” was true to form, but let the inherent racism of the tune bleed through. The Replacements sang “Cruella DeVille” with gleeful malice. And Suzanne Vega did an a capella version of “Stay Awake” that I prefer to the original (it also gave the album its title). There really is something for everyone here, providing everyone thinks Tom Waits should be singing “Heigh-Ho.”
One of the standouts was “Baby Mine,” performed by Bonnie Raitt and Was (Not Was). It was still the beginning of her great renaissance, so she’s in top form. The lullaby from Dumbo is turned into a slow, smoldering blues number. Her voice is as tender and loving as any mother’s, even though Raitt never had children herself. You don’t need to be a parent to understand this song and for it to break your heart. This is a song for anyone who has ever loved any child. I don’t have children, either, but there are children in my life. And I always want to sing this to them. “And if they knew sweet little you, they’d end up lovin’ you too.”
When I listen to this song, I understand a little bit the overwhelming love parents feel for their children. They want the whole world to see what they see when they look at their children. I think that’s part of why parents talk about all the wonderful things the kids do to anyone who will listen. They want to express that love. Sure, kids are frustrating sometimes. And parents always know their child’s limits–“you’re not much, goodness knows.” But none of it matters when they take their babies in their arms, and that little head rests on their shoulders. All that love and trust and faith directed at you has to change you for the better. So of course the rest of the world needs to understand and be changed for the better.
“You know that you’re so precious to me, baby of mine.”