tremble clef

Friday, December 09, 2005

Everything But The Girl, "Apron Strings" (1988/1992)

About five months ago, Fava Bean stuck his head into my office to tell me that something good had happened to friends of ours. "Their baby came," he announced.

For a moment, I was completely flummoxed. I had coincidentally just seen the mother in question one or two days before; we had all gone out for dinner, and she certainly didn't look pregnant. But then my Fog Of Stupidity lifted, and I recalled that she and I, while waiting for the rest to arrive, had in fact talked about how she and her husband have been trying to adopt. Her initial mention of this was almost in passing: they had their name on such-and-such a list, but it didn't seemed like it was happening soon. "Well, it happened," Fava Bean said. "It was sudden -- they got the call and the baby followed a day or so later. They didn't even have any of the baby stuff ready."

The complication was that they were doing this open adoption style, which meant the birth mother has the right to change her mind for up to six months. I hadn't known about the long time frame. "Wow. That has to be tough," I said to Fava Bean. "Yes," he agreed. We mulled, and let this sink in for a moment. Then, since we're insensitive brutes, we immediately started in with the inappropriate joshing.

"Should we send gifts?" I wondered.

"At this point, nah," Fava Bean replied. "I don't think they are even announcing it properly, given the uncertainty."

"That does make it hard to shop. I doubt that Hallmark makes such cards."

"'Congratulations -- Maybe!'"

"'Hope This One's A Keeper!'"

"Ha ha ha ha HA!"

To my surprise, six months have since passed (well, more like five: the couple told me that they "have a good lawyer"). This weekend they throw a party for Baby Girl A., whom I've met and whose devastating cuteness I can therefore attest to, and to celebrate their status as new parents. I couldn't be happier for them.

Which doesn't mean that I will have time to pick up a gift, though. Um, so here's a song? Most people who know this Everything But The Girl song may know it from its appearance on the group's 1988 album Idlewild. But, that same year, the track also popped up on the soundtrack to the John Hughes' film She's Having A Baby, in a different version. Since the latter is quite rare, I offer it. But the best version, as far as I'm concerned, is the live performance preserved on their 1992 Acoustic record. Here, as the album title suggests, the song is set to a sparse guitar arrangement, but what really makes the track are the harmonies: Ben joins in on the backing vocals, while Tracey sings the chorus with a slightly different melody, one in a higher key. It gives the tune, a complicated one that acknowledges the various reasons for that biological yearning, a breathtakingly fragile beauty, and kills me every time I hear it. (However, no: I don't need a baby of my own. Wouldn't mind meeting the potential father, though.)


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