"Baby Can I Hold You" is the third single released by the Americancontemporary folk artist Tracy Chapman, released in late 1988. The song reached the top fifty in the United States, unlike its predecessor, "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", but it failed to become Chapman's second top forty hit, peaking at #48. It did, however, give her a second chart entry on the US Adult Contemporary charts, peaking at #19 in early 1989. (Her first adult contemporary hit was "Fast Car", which reached #7 on the AC charts.) Given the commercial decline Chapman suffered following the release of her second album Crossroads, "Baby Can I Hold You" also became her last top fifty hit until 1996's "Give Me One Reason".
Neil Diamond recorded the song for his 1989 album, The Best Years of Our Lives, and became the first of many artists to cover the song. Chapman subsequently re-recorded the song as a duet with Luciano Pavarotti for the CD Pavarotti and Friends for Cambodia and Tibet. And it was re-released as a single in promotion of the hits package Collection which reached #3 in the United Kingdom in 2001. In 1989 the song was notably covered by Jamaican reggae singer Sanchez, and the version became a staple in dance clubs internationally and is still widely played on America urban radio stations.
In 1997, the Irish boy band Boyzone released a cover of "Baby Can I Hold You" as a double A-side with the non-album track "Shooting Star". "Baby Can I Hold You" thus became their second single from their third studio album, Where We Belong. The single, like "Picture of You" before it, peaked at #2 on the official UK singles chart and stayed in the top 75 for fourteen weeks. The song was the 26th best selling single of 1997 in the United Kingdom. The song was the 9th biggest selling boyband single of the 90's in the United Kingdom. The song has received a Gold sales status certification for sales of over 400,000 copies in the United Kingdom and has appeared on compilations of Boyzone's work. The song reappeared on lead singer Ronan Keating's greatest-hits compilation 10 Years of Hits.
In 2005, Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating released his own cover of "Baby Can I Hold You" as the third and final single from his greatest hits compilation, 10 Years of Hits. It became the second song that he originally recorded with Boyzone to be re-released for his own solo career. In the United Kingdom, the single was only released via digital download and thus it failed to chart. In Germany, the single received a full-scale release and peaked at #42 on the German Singles Chart.