Words & Music: Tony Jackson, Gus Kahn & Egbert Van Alstyne (1916)

Lyrics

Everybody loves a baby,
That’s why I’m
In love with you,
Pretty Baby, Pretty Baby.

And I’d like to be
Your sister, brother,
Dad and mother too,
Pretty Baby, Pretty Baby.

Won’t you come
And let me rock you
In my cradle of love?
And we’ll cuddle
All the time.

Oh, I want a loving baby,
And it might as well be you,
Pretty Baby of mine,
Pretty Baby of mine.

Background

“Pretty Baby” is a sweet number written by Tony Jackson during the Ragtime era. It is believed that while Jackson was performing in Chicago, Van Alstyne and Kahn attended one of his performances (they often made rounds of Chicago night clubs in search of new ideas). They were taken by “Pretty Baby” and purchased it for a reported $250 in anticipation of a new show (also featuring music by a young George Gershwin). However, the original lyrics were deemed unsuitable, as was the verse. So Kahn provided different lyrics, while Van Alstyne added a more melodic verse. The result was a nearly immediate hit. (Information from http://www.perfessorbill.com/pbmidi10.shtml)

Performances

Here is a performance by Dean Martin. Watch until the end to see a funny reference to “That’s Amore”!

And here is a recording from 1916 by Billy Murray, which includes the verse:

And here is the Sing-A-long version for listening to and downloading:

Pretty Baby