Friday, July 18, 2008

Songs for Babies by Baby Dolls

In April, my friend whiteray blogged about a remarkably bad single from 1966, ‘Bay-Hay Bee Doll” by the Swingers. I downloaded that recording, and now I use it to keep birds from sitting on my balcony. Since today’s song is the flip side of a 45 by the Baby Dolls, you could start to deduce that associating your act with the term “baby doll” is a bad idea. The A side of my 45, “Quiet!,” earned the lowest ratings (so far) of any song I’ve put in my twice-weekly poll. The flip, “Hey, Baby!” (Warner Brothers 5086) may rival its performance, though I don’t want to prejudice anyone.

You may decide after listening to the song that it was eventually responsible for the AOL-Time-Warner merger. I, however, am not sure that the record doesn’t have some redeeming features. For example, the title includes a comma, as it should, given the direct address of Baby.

And on a more serious note, the girls who sang “Quiet!” and “Hey, Baby!” have voices far superior to that of hit singer Cathy Jean, and they take the time to harmonize well on “Quiet!” before the songs breaks down in chaos. The Baby Dolls could have been a decent Girl Group, given decent material. A search shows other singles that may have been sung by them, but they’re not on the WB. Since there could be a multitude of Baby Dolls out there, I won’t assume it’s the same act. I may buy a couple of the 45s to see what I find. I’ll let you know.

So, “Hey, Baby!” is a far more cranked-up song than “Quiet!” is, even at its most cacophonous. Whoever played the sax did a solid job on the solo. There’s not a lot of substance to the lyrics, as you’d expect from a Hemric-Kay composition, but there’s an overall sonic solidity that redeems the effort a bit.

And that would be the end of the Baby Dolls saga, were it not for an event that took place during my college years, while this song was playing. A bit of background:

People came by my dorm room to listen to music. For example, when Journey’s “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” was a hit, Katie, Belinda and April used to sit on the bed of my roommate, Ray, and bounce in time to the “na-na” part. I got an idea to loop the “na-na” part, and I created a cassette with three extra minutes of “na-na.” I played it once when the girls were over. Ray and I smirked at each other as the bouncing got more feeble and the girls looked at each other in confusion. That was fun.

Once in awhile, I would set aside the J. Geils Band or ABBA LPs and dig out my box of 45s. While Ray got a kick out of watching me spin my 78 of “Why Wait” by Pérez Prado manually to get it up to speed, we had favorite 45s as well. “Hey, Baby!” wasn’t a favorite, but I tossed it on the turntable one afternoon and settled back on my bed to listen to it with the gang and eat cookies.

These weren’t just any cookies. They were iced oatmeal raisin cookies, and I think Keebler made them. I had enjoyed these cookies when I was a kid, and I found them again at the Kroger near my dorm. I was on perhaps my fourth cookie when the song was playing. A couple of people were listening to the music, and someone, I think it was Ray, started warbling along with the Baby Dolls. We started laughing. I had a whole raisin in my mouth, and when I inhaled to laugh, it disappeared.

I thought it had gone down my windpipe, and I waited for the raisin to block my airway. We all knew how to do what my former roommate Cameron had called the Himalaya Treatment, so I figured we would get it back out. But I never choked.

So I looked around my bed, then under it, then all around the room. The searching party never found a raisin anywhere. Did I swallow it? Is it still in my lung? I don’t know. I read once about a person who inhaled a bit of a Christmas tree and had it removed decades later because it was causing problems, so I don’t think it’s impossible that I am carrying it around. For that reason, whenever I weigh myself, I deduct .45 gram from the total, since the raisin isn’t really my fault, is it?

Ah, those iced oatmeal raisin cookies. They don’t seem to exist any more. I have found crunchy iced oatmeal cookies, notably those by Archway, and I have found softer oatmeal raisin cookies, but not iced ones like these Keebler cookies. If you know the cookies I mean, and you know of a source, please tell me where I can find them.

Every time I play “Hey, Baby!” I get hungry for those cookies. That’s why I don’t play the song very often; they lead to a food craving I can’t fulfill. Or is that why I don’t play the song a lot? You be the judge.

Next week, I’ll bring you a victim of the Great Meltdown, a single I sought for three years before I found a copy. In the meantime, play “Hey, Baby!” over and over this weekend. It’s a guaranteed good time. See you Wednesday!

Baby Dolls, Hey, Baby!

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