from Playbill’s Track-By-Track Breakdown (3/27/20):
“THE BABY SONG”
When I lived in Los Angeles, I taught musical theater skills to actors at USC. I remember one pivotal moment when I was working with an actor on a song (it was Cole Porter’s “I Hate Men”) and she confessed that she was having trouble with it because it she’d never been cast in any role on stage that didn’t require her to wear a bikini. She had no idea what it meant to have agency on stage or to take up emotional space. (She does now, let me tell you. We were both changed by that semester.) On that day I made myself a promise that I would put more material into the world for women experiencing things that women really experience. (Ask any musical theater performer how many times she’s been cast as a prostitute.) I had a deeply moving conversation around the same time with a woman in my profession who was heading into her 40s. She told me she had been so busy making her career that she had forgotten to have children. Then, when she finally decided to get pregnant—after years of trying everything not to get pregnant—her body betrayed her. Throw that into the category of subjects I’d never heard songs about. So now here’s one. Laura Benanti has written so publicly and so poignantly about both her miscarriage and her motherhood that I knew she’d be the perfect person to bring truth and heartache and joy to the song. Her performance breaks my heart.
THERE WAS A DAY ABOUT A YEAR AGO
WHEN I DECIDED LIFE WOULD BE MUCH BETTER
IF I ONLY HAD A CHILD.
AND SO I CALLED MY HUSBAND MICHAEL
AT HIS OFFICE, AND I SAID, “I THINK I’M READY.
WHEN YOU’RE DONE WITH WORK,
COME HOME AND LET’S GET WILD.”
PEOPLE TOLD ME WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT I’D KNOW.
MOTHER NATURE KIND OF SENDS AN INVITATION.
EVERY SYSTEM OF YOUR BODY WILL ALIGN,
AND YOU WILL TAKE IT AS A SIGN
THAT YOU’RE READY TO BE PART OF PROCREATION.
NOW, I’M NOT MUCH ON MOTHER NATURE,
AND I’VE ALWAYS BEEN AMBITIOUS
AND A FAN OF TAKING CHANCES IN MY LIFE.
SO THIS DECISION WAS A BIT OF A SURPRISE
TO MY DEAR HUSBAND, WHO, GOD BLESS HIM,
HURRIED HOME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS WIFE.
IT WAS ALL SO PERFECT.
AS HE GAVE HIMSELF TO ME
MICHAEL KISSED MY BELLY, AND HE SAID,
“WHAT AN ADVENTURE! LET IT BE.”
I GUESS THE MONTHS WENT BY
WHEN ALL THAT I COULD THINK ABOUT WERE DIAPERS
AND HOW FINALLY I COULD LET MYSELF GET FAT.
WE LOOKED IN CATALOGS AT CRADLES
AND WE STARTED MAKING LISTS OF NAMES UNTIL
ONE MORNING IT WAS GONE,
AND THAT WAS THAT.
PEOPLE TOLD ME THAT IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME
AND THE BEST THING WE COULD DO WAS KEEP ON TRYING.
EVEN MICHAEL SEEMED TO TAKE IT ALL IN STRIDE.
HE HID FAST BEHIND HIS PRIDE.
HE HELD STEADY,
BUT I KNEW THAT HE WAS LYING.
IT WAS ALL SO SUDDEN
LIKE A CAR THAT HITS A TREE.
IN A BREATH, IT ENDED.
MICHAEL SAID, “I GUESS IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE.”
I LET SOME TIME GO BY
THEN WENT BACK TO MY STUPID JOB
PRETENDING THAT I DIDN’T MIND THE SCHEDULE OR THE STRESS.
I’D EVEN STARTED MAKING TRAVEL PLANS
WHEN ONE DAY MICHAEL LOOKED AT ME
AND SAID, “DO YOU STILL WANT TO?”
AND I HEARD MYSELF SAY YES.
THERE IS HOPE RENEWING
THROUGH THIS LIFE INSIDE OF ME.
MICHAEL HELD MY BELLY AS HE SAYS,
“NOTHING MORE SACRED. NO ONE MORE LUCKY.
OUR BIG ADVENTURE!”
LET IT BE.