"I Want My Baby Back" is an almost-forgotten novelty song that may well be the most morbid piece of pop that the 60s produced.
In one of those bizarre historical trends that upends your understanding of history, during the late 50s and early sixties, there was a subgenre of pop music that consisted of songs about teenagers dying in horribly grisly ways. They were called “teen tragedy songs,” but were also dubbed “death disks,” or “splatter platters” Why? Who came up with this? Who knows? But it was a thing.
I Want My Baby Back by Jimmy Cross should spook us all
Though this genre could be pretty macabre, no teen tragedy song was more macabre than “I Want My Baby Back” by Jimmy Cross. In the song, the narrator, of course, lost his baby, in the same accident, it’s implied that took the leader if the pack. After singing that he can’t live without her, the next lines are…
“So I've decided I'm going to have back
One way or another
Oh Baby, I dig you so much
Hot dang. Pay dirt
I got my Baby back”
To be fair, “I Want My Baby Back” is a parody of the genre, not a straight-faced example of a splatter platter. But it’s the elements that probably read as a part of the joke back in the 60s only add to the creepiness now. I Want My Baby Back is sung in an aw shucks Andy Griffiths drawl, which back in the 60s may have sounded comically innocent compared to the implied necrophilia, but now sounds like something from Deliverance.
“I Want My Baby Back” slowly rose to the status of cult classic over the ensuing decades, after being voted World’s Worst Record by listeners of the BBC’s Kenny Everett show, and was boosted by cult DJ Dr. Demento.