Nostalgia Jukebox: The birthing playlist

Wurlitzer jukebox Wikipedia

Music has always been a big part of my life so, when we were preparing for Isaac’s arrival seven years ago, one of the things I did was to create a playlist of appropriate songs to pop on the stereo when Heather went into labour to provide some soothing background music.

So, no Megadeth. Nothing with excessively rapid beats. And no Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E either, just in case Heather started to get any ideas.

Nonetheless, I crafted a playlist of over 70 songs that met with our joint approval. As soon as labour started and Heather climbed into the birthing pool that filled up most of our dining room, I put the playlist on shuffle and let fate take its course.

We subsequently did the same thing when Toby and Kara were born. Here are the songs that were playing as our children were delivered – tracks that will forever be imprinted on my memory and bring a smile to my face whenever I hear them.

1. Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx (1989)

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you

One of two UK top ten singles by the American singer-songwriter (the other being Hazard), this most uncomplicated of ballads – the arrangement features only Marx’s vocal, guitar and keyboard – was written as a love letter to his wife, actress Cynthia Rhodes, but works just as well as a message from parent to child.

It was one of my favourite 1980s ballads even before Isaac was born, even more so now. Incidentally, Marx also co-wrote the anthemic ballad Dance With My Father with the late Luther Vandross. You can play that one at my funeral, kids.

2. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor (1990)

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares 2 u

This cover of a song by Prince by was the Irish singer-songwriter’s only UK top ten single, but it went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic, becoming the UK’s second-best selling single of 1990 and the year’s third-highest seller in the US.

The video is equally memorable, consisting mostly of a close-up on O’Connor’s face as she sings against a black background. It won three awards at the 1990 MTV Video Movie Awards, including Video of the Year.

I will admit to barely registering the song at the time of Toby’s birth, mostly on account of the fact I was busy delivering him myself on our living room floor after a rather speedy labour …

3. Piece Of My Heart – Erma Franklin (1967)

Have another little piece of my heart now, baby
You know you got it, if it makes you feel good

A mere 19 days late, Kara denied us a hat-trick of home births by kicking things off while Heather was having a check-up at the hospital. After a mad 120mph dash carefully observing the national speed limit, I arrived with just 20 minutes to spare.

As a result, the iPod was playing on mute in my pocket as Kara was born but it couldn’t have been a more appropriate song. I love my boys but my daughter has captivated my heart from the day she was born.

Piece Of My Heart was popularised by Janis Joplin in 1968 but the original version – the one on my iPod – was recorded by Aretha Franklin’s older sister Erma the year before. It has since been covered by artists as notable as Dusty Springfield, Bryan Ferry, Faith Hill, Joss Stone and Beverley Knight.

The Erma Franklin original made its UK chart debut as recently as 1992 after being used in a Levi’s TV ad, peaking at number nine.

Do you have any songs (other than Let It Go or Everything Is Awesome) that you particularly associate with your children?