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Tracks Unwrapped

I Found A New Baby

 

 

Clarence Williams

 

This song goes back a long way. The rumour that it was first sung in year zero by a group calling themselves The Three Wise Men is probably unfounded. There is more reliable evidence that it was written by pianist Spencer Williams in the 1920s. Spencer was also responsible for Basin Street Blues, Royal Garden Blues, Tishomingo Blues and Everybody Loves My Baby - presumably the reason he had to find a new one. He wrote it with Jack Palmer (who also shares the credits for Everybody Loves My Baby). Jack was a staff writer in Tin Pan Alley and his other two 'hits' Jumpin' Jive and Boog It were written with Cab Calloway.

Clarence Williams

 

It was Clarence Williams (no relation) who first introduced the tune on Okeh records in January 1926 with his Blue Five with Eva Taylor (contralto) - it is sometime called I've Found A New Baby. You can listen to the Clarence Williams below - unfortunately the person who has put it on YouTube has included a mis-spelling, calling it 'I've Gound A New Baby'. He has probably been arrested.

 

 

 

 

Ev'rybody look at me,
Happy fellow you will see,
I've got someone nice, oh, gee!
Oh what joy, what bliss.
Just the treasure that I need,
Pure as gold and guaranteed.
Is she pretty? Yes, indeed,
Let me tell you this.

 

Why and when did people start calling each other 'baby'? On the face of it, it is rather a strange thing to call another adult, in fact there are those who see it not as a term of endearment, but something a man has used to show his authority over a woman, something that demonstrates her dependence on him. These days, when women call men 'baby', presumably it could be argued that it signifies the change that has taken place in roles?

In the movie Dirty Dancing Jennifer Grey plays Frances 'Baby' Houseman (does anyone ever remember that she has other names than 'Baby'?) and it is down to Patrick Swayze's Johnny to rescue her with that unforgettable line 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner'. Here is the clip from the movie.

 

 

 

Others see it simply meaning something that demonstrates a tender feeling, as one would towards a baby.

Writing in thenewrepublic.com website, Alice Robb says: 'It may be creepy, but we’ve been doing it for a long time. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was in the seventeenth century that “baby” was first used as a romantic term of endearment. In Aphra Behn’s 1694 novel, Love-Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, Philander, the male hero, declares himself “not able to support the thought that any thing should afflict his lovely Baby.” (In spite of the title - and as fitting as it would be if “baby” were coined in an incestuous context - the “sister” in question is a relation by marriage.) And it isn't just English-speakers who call each other "baby"; many languages have similar terms, from the French bébé to the Chinese baobei.'

Some see using 'pet' names as a healthy form of initmacy where using a proper name can seem inapproriate. Ian Kerner, a sexuality counsellor and author says: 'Pet names are a kind of cue to intimacy. They speak to the intimacy in a relationship. When couples stop using baby names, it’s often an indication of a lack of intimacy.' (Click here to read the rest of this article).



I've found a new baby, I've found a new girl,
My fashion plate baby, has got me a whirl.
Her new king o' lovin' done made me her slave,
Her sweet turtle dovin' is all that I crave.
Sweetest miss, with a kiss full o' bliss, can't resist somehow.
Tells me lies, but she's wise, naughty eyes, mesmerise I vow,
and how, I don't mean maybe!
I just had to fall,
I've found a new baby, new baby that's all.

 

Which brings us to 'fashion plate baby'. Fashion plates again spin us back - this time to the 18th century. Fashion plates are depictions of the latest fashion styles. They were preceded by dolls (another term of endearment). Wikipedia tells us: 'Marie Antoinette's will.i.amdressmaker was known to tour the continent every year with berlines containing dolls outfitted with the latest fashionable styles. Fashion plates, as they were known during the height of their popularity, were first circulated at the end of the 18th century in England, rather than in France, as would be expected. "The Lady's Magazine", one of the first distributors of fashion plates in magazines, began publishing in 1770, spreading the trend across Europe (of course we, as regular readers of The Lady knew this all along!).

will.i.am

Interestingly, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the children's toymaker Tomy revived the concept as a toy marketed simply as Fashion Plates. Today, numerous magazines and toys are seen as fashion reflectors. In 2015, will.i.am, musician and frontman for the Black Eyed Peas, revealed his new wearable technology in collaboration with Gucci - I don't care if people think that I am a crazy gink. I'm cool, baby! Click here for a report in Vogue Magazine.

 


I don't care if people think
That I am a crazy gink,
If love puts me on the blink
I'll just yell, Hey, Hey,
'cause I'm wild about my queen,
Sweetest girl I've ever seen.
She's red hot that's what I mean,
Listen while I say.

 

Moving on from wil.i.am, what about the tune? What has happened to that since the Will.i.amses brought it out? It has remained part of the Trad jazz repertoire, but it says something for the popularity of the tune that it has spread its wings.

We have to start with the classic Charlie Christian guitar solo with the Benny Goodman Orchestra (click here) considered as one of the most influential solos recorded by the guitarist. Charlie was 'an early performer on the electric guitar, and a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz. ...His single-string technique, combined with amplification, helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument.'

 

 

 

Also demonstrating the bridge between past and future is a recording by Teddy Wilson's band which at the time featured Teddy Wilson (piano), Lester Young (tenor sax), Buck Clayton (trumpet), Buster Bailey (clarinet), Freddy Green (guitar), Walter Page (bass) and Jo Jones (drums).

 

 

 

We can also listen to a very early Charlie Parker recording of I Found A New Baby from 1943 with Charlie Parker (alto sax), Efferge Ware (guitar) and "Little" Phil Phillips (drums). Listeners to this track say: 'Bird's style seems still in its embryonic stage at age 23. This is smooth and pure. Super!' and 'A true masterpiece. How about the quote from Tickle Toe at 0:17, the Song of the Volga Boatmen at 1:36, and Lester Youngs Shoe Shine Boy solo quote at 1:58? Love it.'

 

 

 

You will find countless versions on the internet - Paul Whiteman, Ethel Waters, Andre Previn, Dexter Gordon, Sidney Bechet, Django Reinhardt, Louis Jordan - but let's end with a smile and a video of the Wiyos playing the number at the Middle Earth in Bradford in Vermont in 2007.

 

 



I've found a new baby, I've found a new girl,
My fashion plate baby, has got me a whirl.
Her new king o' lovin' done made me her slave,
Her sweet turtle dovin' is all that I crave.
Sweetest miss, with a kiss full o' bliss, can't resist somehow.
Tells me lies, but she's wise, naughty eyes, mesmerise I vow,
and how, I don't mean maybe!
I just had to fall,
I've found a new baby, new baby that's all.

 

 

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More Tracks Unwrapped:

Flight Of The Foo Birds
Avalon
Lover Man
Milneburg Joys

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2015