“Baby Can I Hold You” by Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman’s “Baby Can I Hold You” clearly addresses some of the most common phrases used in romantic relationships and how valuable they are. The writer discusses a particular phrase in each verse, while focusing on how her partner has failed to utter these words at the right time.

In the initial verse for instance she highlights how her partner finds it difficult to say sorry, or ask for forgiveness (in the second verse). The third verse also sees the writer comment on how the phrase “I love you” isn’t easily said.

The chorus takes an interesting turn however in the sense that the singer seems to be giving this partner a clue on the words that actually resonate or turn her on. Apparently, if this partner would just be sensitive enough to confess their desire to have her in their arms, she’d be just fine. In essence, the singer seems to send a message that though the earlier phrases are important in every relationship, it’s really the intention and actions accompanying them that matter most.

Lyrics of "Baby Can I Hold You"


Baby Can I Hold You captures the desire to be well treated by a partner and be told the right words in order to maintain their intimacy.

A True Classic

This is a Tracy Chapman classic from her heyday of the late 20th century. For instance, it was covered by Neil Diamond himself on his 1988 album “The Best Years of Our Lives”.  And successful versions have been put forth by Ronan Keating in 2005 and especially by the entire Boyzone crew in 1997, with their rendition faring better chart-wise than the original.

Speaking of the original, it made it to number 1 in Portugal and also appeared on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as charting in a couple of other countries. And whereas it apparently never made it onto the UK Singles Chart, it has caught on since the turn of the century. Accordingly, it has been certified silver across the pond.

Release Date of “Baby Can I Hold You”

This track came out on 15 April 1988 being a part of Tracy’s first album, which itself is entitled Tracy Chapman. And that project was put out by Elektra Records. It was the third single Tracy released from her Tracy Chapman album.

In addition to this track, Tracy Chapman also birthed two other powerful singles, including the iconic “Fast Car“. The other was “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution”.

Tracy Chapman vs. Nicki Minaj

This track made headlines in 2020, when Nicki Minaj finally settled a case that was brought against her by Tracy Chapman in 2018. Basically, Chapman accused Minaj of sampling “Baby Can I Hold You”, even after she told Nicki on more than one occasion that she couldn’t use it. Indeed Tracy has established herself as an artist who does not take kindly to others sampling her work. And just to note, the song which Nicki Minaj utilized that sample on, which is entitled “Sorry” (ft. Nas), was never officially released due to Chapman’s lack of consent. However, Minaj went on to make the song public by apparently leaking it to world-famous NYC DJ Funkmaster Flex anyway. And when she did so, Chapman promptly got on her a**.

Interesting to note is that Nicki Minaj and co. didn’t sample Tracy Chapman directly but rather an underground cover of “Baby Can I Hold You” by a Jamaican dancehall artist named Shelly Thunder. Yet either way, at the end of the day Minaj did opt to pay Chapman $450K, in addition covering her associated legal fees, as opposed to letting the matter actually go to trial.

2 Responses

  1. Stuart says:

    I think it’s about an abusive relationship

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