Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Story of the Song | 'Baby I've Got News For You' reflects singer's experience - Connection made through car trouble

Published:Sunday | February 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Shalom
Shalom
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Shalom did not write the lyrics to Baby I've Got News For You, the late 1990s song of a man moving on emotionally after the break-up, heartache and mentally spurning of the woman who he would like to be in his good graces again. Those credits go to Charles Edwards, but Shalom's personal experience had created a well of hurt for him to draw from and pour into his delivery of a song which bucked the hardcore dancehall deejay trend of the period.

There is vulnerability, but also healing, as the singer informs his one-time lady love, "I've gotten over you" and "I'm not in love with you/Been through the fire through the rain/But I'll live to love again."

Baby I've Got New For You also resulted in a name change for the singer and studio engineer named Steve Harper at Sugar Minott's Youthman Promotion outfit. The chain of events which led to the hit began with a car breaking down. Steve Harper, as the singer was named then, was part of the Earth Ruler Band, based at Chisholm Avenue, where he lived. Frank, who ran the band, saw a man on the road, whose car was giving him trouble, and stopped to help. It turned out to be Phil Mathias, who started talking to Frank about music business. He had songs and needed a singer. Frank promptly said he knew a good one.

"It was a divine connection," Shalom said. "When I went there (Sonic Sounds) to meet with them, he gave me a cassette and said listen to this song. It was a simple song," Shalom said, breaking into a piece of Push Me in The Corner. Matthias' wife gave the singer her stamp of approval and work began in earnest.

 

NAME PROBLEM

 

"He always has songs from different people," Shalom said, so he had choices. But the name was a problem, Matthias telling the singer that Harper was the name of a publication that was losing favour in England.

"He wanted to change the name. I said, 'Okay, try, but if it is not working, I will go back to Steve Harper'. He was in Queens, New York, when Matthias called to say he had settled on Shalom. When Harper asked what it meant, he was told it was a word of greeting.

"I said okay, but that name is a blessing. I did not know it was also about Jehovah, My God, My Peace," said Shalom, who has been a Christian since the early 2000s.

Baby I've Got News For You was recorded in a set of songs that included Crazy and Carry On.

"I could relate to it. As a youth in love with a girl and the girl mother no want her deal with you because you no have no money. And she just leave and you heartbroken," Shalom said. "When the song come out, that young lady come back around, but I was not interested."

The music loving-public was, Shalom saying that Baby I've Got News For You spent 14 weeks at number one in Jamaica, "at a time when Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Baby Cham, Beres a mash up the charts". This was after some doubts, even from the original mixing engineer for the song, Matthias asking the 'prentice' engineer to work on it instead.

Baby I've Got News For You led to a number of performances, and Shalom remembers Sting 1998 clearly, "when me come on in a penguin suit (the jacket with a short front and long coattails), silk linen".