“Baby Can I Hold You” by Tracy Chapman (1988)

I’m re-listening to Tracy Chapman’s 1988 debut album because I need to refresh myself a little bit to write this blurb, and because I really want to devote more time to listening to music actively. I don’t get a whole lot of just-sit-and-listen-to-music or even just-sit-and-listen-to-music-and-write time anymore. Back in the days before the internet, or the days when there were no smartphones and I had a 100-minute commute, it was easier to devote more time to things as simple as concentrating on music. Now, not so much. But I’m going to make the effort.

Two things I’ve realized just by reading the album’s lyric sheet and concentrating. “Fast Car”’s last verse completely reconfigures the meaning of the song in my head. And instead of singing “sorry is all that you can say” in the first line of “Baby Can I Hold You”, Tracy is singing “sorry is all that you can’t say,” which makes a WHOLE lot more sense. Tracy had clearly been through some relationship troubles before making her first record–these are lyrics I relate very much to, as someone who seems to settle for relationships that are either unrequited, or requited with complications, or are with people who can’t/don’t want to communicate and can’t do simple things like say “sorry”, or “forgive me”, or “I love you” (not that I’m totally innocent of not communicating, myself). Still…

Although I was team Tracy from the second I heard “Fast Car”, I’m pretty sure my first awareness of “Baby Can I Hold You” came from the reggae remake (retitled “Sorry”) by Foxy Brown (no, not the teenage rapper–this was a different one.) I’m actually going to listen to that remake now to see if she misheard the lyric the same way I did.

She did.

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