Checkin' Up on My Baby

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"Checkin' Up on My Baby"
Song by Sonny Boy Williamson II from the album The Real Folk Blues
Released 1966 (1966)
Recorded Chicago, April 14, 1960
Genre Blues
Length 1:53
Label Chess (No. 1503)
Writer(s) Sonny Boy Williamson II
Producer(s) Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Willie Dixon
ISWC T-901.127.351-1

"Checkin' Up on My Baby" (or sometimes "Checking On My Baby") is a song recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson II in 1960 that has become a classic of the blues.[1] The song was not released as a single, but was included on Williamson's The Real Folk Blues album released after his death in 1965. The song has been recorded by numerous blues and other artists, making it one of Williamson's most recorded songs.

Earlier songs[edit]

Williamson's namesake Sonny Boy Williamson I, also known as John Lee Williamson, recorded an earlier song titled "Check Up on My Baby" in 1944.[2] It is a topical song, with references to World War II political figures (its flip side is titled "Win the War Blues").[2] Although it has a different melody and lyrics, the refrain includes the line "I've got to check up on my baby, I've got to see how my baby been getting along",[3] similar to "I'm checkin' up on my baby, find out what she's puttin' down", which later appears in the Sonny Boy Williamson II song. In 1958, Otis Rush recorded a slow blues titled "Checking on My Baby" (Cobra 5027) with different lyrics, with Rush listed as the songwriter.[4]

Sonny Boy Williamson II song[edit]

In 1960, Sonny Boy Williamson II recorded "Checkin' Up on My Baby" as an uptempo Chicago blues shuffle that features his harmonica playing.[5]

I'm checkin' up on my baby, find out what she puttin' down (2×)
So many nights and days, you know I have been out of town

Backing Williamson on vocal and harmonica are Otis Spann on piano, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Luther Tucker on guitars, Fred Below on drums, and an unidentified bassist.[5] Despite its brief length (less than two minutes), blues historian Gerard Herzhaft has been identified the song as among "the most accomplished masterpieces of postwar blues".[1] The song was first released on the Williamson Chess Records compilation The Real Folk Blues in 1966.[6]

Recordings by other artists[edit]

"Checkin' Up on My Baby" has been interpreted and recorded by a variety of artists, including:[7] Junior Wells with Buddy Guy who recorded it as "Checking on My Baby" for their 1965 It's My Life Baby album; John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers with Mick Taylor recorded it for Crusade in 1967; Taj Mahal from his 1968 debut album Taj Mahal (he also recorded it live with somewhat different lyrics for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus); Mick Jagger recorded it in 1992 with the Red Devils, which was later released on The Very Best of Mick Jagger (Jagger also performed it live with Gary Moore); and Gary Moore in 2007 from Close as You Get).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Sonny Boy Williamson". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 385. ISBN 1-55728-252-8. 
  2. ^ a b Fancourt, Les (2000). Stop Breaking Down – The Essential Recordings of Sonny Boy Williamson (Album notes). Sonny Boy Williamson I. Indigo Records. p. 1. IGOCD 2128. 
  3. ^ "Check Up On My Baby Blues Lyrics". MetroLyrics.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ Rush, Otis (1993). The Cobra Records Story: Chicago Rock and Blues 1956–1958 (Album notes). Various artists. Capricorn Records. p. 10. 9-42012-2. 
  5. ^ a b Humphrey, Mark (1993). The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson (Album notes). Sonny Boy Williamson II. MCA/Chess Records. p. 22. CHD2-9343. 
  6. ^ Cook, Stephen. "Sonny Boy Williamson II: The Real Folk Blues – Album review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Song search results for Checkin' Up on My Baby". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved January 7, 2016.