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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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I'm Taken With The Notion

If it’s the final Friday of the month, then it’s the second installment of the special Top 10 Songs of All-Time edition of Flashback Friday at Faith and Fear in Flushing.

The Mets of Rick Cerone and Wally Whitehurst and Mark Carreon and the second coming of Hubie Brooks and the arrival of wildly miscast Vince Coleman…they don’t sound so great, do they? The 1991 Mets would reveal themselves a worthy candidate to be the team that ended the Shea good times in short order. But in April and May, the idea that this post-Strawberry, pre-Bonilla amalgam of used veterans, bitter mercenaries, limited talents and Charlie O’Brien could add up to a contender made perfect sense.

Why? ‘Cause everything sounds better in spring.

Give me a May morning. Make it warm so I don’t need a jacket. Sunny, too. Put me behind the wheel of my old orange Corolla. Have me drop off my fiancée at the Long Island Rail Road station. Roll my window down. Send me home to get ready for work. Direct me across Sunrise Highway while I fiddle with the Realistic FM converter. Make sure Howard Stern is in commercial so I land on WKJY — K-Joy 98.3. As I approach Merrick Road, make the next song “Baby Baby” by Amy Grant.

Nothing ever sounded better in my life than that song did at that moment on that spring morning 16 years ago. Maybe if I’d heard it in February it would have been grating. Maybe if I’d heard it in September it would have seemed sappy. But in early May, it was perfect. No wonder it’s the No. 9 Song of All-Time.

“Baby Baby” remains perfect to my ears. No matter when I hear it now, it’s the most endearing love song I’ve ever experienced and the highest-ranking pure love song on the Top 500. It’s not deep, it doesn’t probe, it’s only as original as it has to be. But Amy Grant nailed it. As the spring of 1991 continued, I couldn’t get enough of “Baby Baby”. When it pops up nowadays, it’s that May morning all over again.

I guess “love song” describes “Baby Baby,” though when you think of “love song,” you might think of something slower, something sexier, something breathy or emotional. By these standards, “Baby Baby” is a trifle. But it works. It works on its own merits. I love “Baby Baby” in the context of hearing “Baby Baby” when I did. There’s not a lot more to it than that.

Even though Stephanie and I were six months from marriage, it’s not “our song” by any means (see No. 18 on the Top 500 for what we chose as our first dance at our wedding). She liked it OK and we certainly derived some goodness from it as it topped the pop and adult contemporary charts that spring for two and three weeks, respectively. Mostly, though, we cringed at the video, in which Amy and some hunky guy rolled an orange back and forth.

Of course the dude in the clip was an actor. The song wasn’t about him. It wasn’t about The Dude Upstairs either despite Amy’s fame as a spiritual vocalist. I’d first heard of her in 1985, my final semester in college. One of my journalism classmates, Carolyn, gave me a ride and had an Amy Grant tape in her cassette deck. This is Christian music, she said, which surprised me (people I knew actually listened to this stuff?). I saw my first Amy Grant video that summer on VH-1: “Love Will Find A Way”. Didn’t mention hellfire. It was OK.

Wasn’t giving much thought to Amy Grant when she reappeared all secularlike in the spring of ’91. I didn’t know she was crossing over from the Christian section of the record store nor did I know she had a baby girl she named Millie. Millie, inspiring her mom at six weeks old, is literally the baby in “Baby Baby,” which is amusing in that some variation on “baby baby” is the granddaddy of rock ‘n’ roll clichés, especially when adults want to make fun of that music the kids like (à la Jet Screamer from The Jetsons). Dedicating “Baby Baby” to her infant certainly turned that criticism on its head. And the byplay with the hunk in the video — framing Amy as just a touch less innocent to a not necessarily righteous audience — probably helped it go to No. 1.

The musical reference running through Keith Thomas’s melody for “Baby Baby” is a light-synth approximation of a calliope. I was never much for merry-go-rounds, but this is one ride I never want to STOP…for a minute, not even a second. I’m still going round and round when she gets to her penultimate proclamation of affection, “I’m so glad you’re mine”. The rhymes sync perfectly to the hooks. They’re not brilliant — notion to devotion to ocean, leading eventually to the day you put my heart in motion — but they are effective. Amy is just so damn loving and optimistic that I’m convinced it’s never going to cease being a morning in May.

If there’s a love object for me in “Baby Baby,” explicit or otherwise, it’s not Amy’s baby or my sweetie or even my notion of Stephanie’s ocean of devotion for me (one I liked to imagine was expressed via female vocal in the No. 192 song of all-time, at least until I realized Melissa Etheridge probably had somebody named Sheila in mind). The love I take from “Baby Baby” is spring. Spring at its best kicks ass. Spring annihilates winter. Spring promises summer. Spring is a baseball season before the standings go awry. Spring is 1991 before the 1991 Mets fall apart. Spring, at the height of its unclammy powers, can be so warm and so sunny that I don’t mind being dragged out of bed in the middle of it to provide the love of my life a ride to the station.

Spring is also the ride back home with the radio on.

The No. 10 Song of All-Time was heard at the end of January. The No. 8 record will be played at the end of March.

Next Friday: Gettin’ one’s Topps on.

12 comments to I’m Taken With The Notion

  • Anonymous

    Are you seriously suggesting that I'm going to have to wait until September to read the backstory surrounding the selection of “The Night Chicago Died”? This is torture, I tell you.

  • Anonymous

    You'll always have that poster of Amy Grant to keep you company.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, you're hilarious.

  • Anonymous

    She ate spaghetti with that guy in the video too.
    Uncoolest Top 10 ever!

  • Anonymous

    If you are interested in 2 seats for any Met game this year, EXCLUDING Yankees and Opening Day, let me know. My seats are UR, section 3- right behind home plate, 5th row. Depending on the game you ask for, I could sell a pair of tickets for $50- $65. This is right around face value. If you wait to buy single game seats, it will be hard, if not impossible to get seats in section 1-4 (behind home). You can contact me at Hoyas21@aol.com, let me know what games/dates you are interested and I will check the availability.
    GO METS!

  • Anonymous

    Much of her Christian audience was reportedly highly distressed with her video flirtations with a guy who wasn't her husband.
    “Now they're eating spaghetti!”

  • Anonymous

    Hey, that's a poster of a nice girl there.

  • Anonymous

    My other favorite song of that spring was the Divinyls “I Touch Myself” (No. 180). As “Baby Baby” superceded it, perhaps that could be considered a victory for morals and values in and of itself.
    I could sure go for some spaghetti about now.

  • Anonymous

    Greg,
    I believe it was Cartman from South Park who opined that any love song could be instantly converted (no pun intended) into a Christian song by replacing the word “baby” with the word “Jesus”. Try it – it works more often than not.
    When Amy Grant went mainstream – I'd consider that moment to have occurred when her duet with Peter Cetera from Chicago was released – much of her contemporary Christian fan base considered her a sellout. I didn't. To me, reaching the rest of the world with the positive message of her music was a good thing.
    Many Christian singers build their careers on literally preaching to the choir, or singing to the congregation, as it were. For Amy Grant to make a concerted effort to bring that message onto a larger stage might smack of crass commercialism to some. But the easier thing for her to do would have been to keep putting out Christian records exclusively for a Christian audience.
    I met Amy Grant at a concert at Montclair High School in New Jersey, exactly one week before a People magazine feature on her was printed. It was her first mainstream national exposure. As a member of the (non-commercial college) media, I was given backstage access, and spent some time interviewing her after the show. She was kind, gentle, gracious, modest, and well-grounded.
    Apologies to Lou Gehrig and Gary Cooper, but I always considered Amy's husband, Gary Chapman, the luckiest man on the face of the earth. So, when the interview was over and she asked me if I had a girlfriend, I did a double-take. No, it's not what you think. When I told her I did have a girlfriend, she handed me a dozen roses, a gift from a fan that she didn't want to haul with her to the next tour stop. I promised to give them to Sharon, and I did.
    My only disappointment in following Amy's career was learning she'd moved on to Vince Gill. It made me consider Gary Chapman the unluckiest man on the face of the earth. None of us truly know another's heart, but cheating on your husband with a married man just seemed so, well, un-Christian.

  • Anonymous

    Dennis,
    That's a great story, especially the roses. Though Amy Grant never became an overwhelming favorite of mine beyond ol' No. 9 here and her peppy remake of “Big Yellow Taxi,” I'm happy to hear her manner in something approaching real life (being nice to a college radio guy is close enough) matched whatever image she was carrying at the time.
    I'd honestly forgotten she wound up with Vince Gill, perhaps blotting out that bit of information in the wake of “House Of Love,” a duet I didn't care for. Nor was I much a fan of “The Next Time I Fall” (despite its use in a 2006 FBF headline), though for that I blame Peter Cetera and the hangover from his wretched solo hit. “Glory Of Love” came closer than any NL East rival did to ruining the summer of 1986.

  • Anonymous

    I love Flashback Fridays.
    I think you should turn them into a book somehow.

  • Anonymous

    I like the story Amy told in the Billboard Number One Hits book of how she wrote the “Baby Baby” lyrics. She was given the music and then tried to think up lyrics, which to her all sounded like “some overgrown football jock trying to be romantic,” and then hit on the idea of writing the song to…her actual baby (the one in diapers). Then it was a piece o'zwieback. She evidently wanted to sing to the baby in the video too, but her record company nixed that. I always thought the song sounded like a cross between “Precious Precious” (Jackie Moore) and “Do You Know What I Mean” (Lee Michaels).
    Gary Chapman, from what I gather, had what was then an intractable drug and alcohol problem, which if true must've been a nightmare for Ms. Grant on multiple levels (especially given her image). I can see how things might have reached the point of meltdown between them.