This Day In History: August 24, 1974

August 24, 1974 Paul Anka has a #1 hit with “(You’re) Having My Baby”

On August 24, 1967, 17 years after his first trip to the top of the pop charts, Paul Anka earns a #1 hit with “(You’re) Having My Baby,” a duet with singer Odia Cotes.

Regrets? Perhaps Paul Anka’s had a few, but writing the lyrics to “My Way” would certainly not be among them. Nor would writing a new theme song for Jack Paar’s replacement on The Tonight Show and negotiating a deal that would pay him royalties every time Johnny Carson took the stage over the next 32 years. Nor his astute decision (at the age of only 19) to buy back from his record label the master recordings of hits like “Diana,” “Lonely Boy,” “Puppy Love” and “Put Your Head On My Shoulders,” thereby giving himself permanent control over lucrative reissues of his early catalog. In business he was nearly infallible, from his early days as a self-made teen idol to his later money-making years as a medallion-wearing Vegas headliner. So when he someday turns to face life’s final curtain, Paul Anka will have earned not only a pile of cash, but also the right to say he did things his way, even when it meant sparking an outcry of protest against his chart-topping hit “(You’re) Having My Baby,” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1974.

It’s difficult to say what the biggest problem with “(You’re) Having My Baby” was, since it seemed to depend very much on one’s perspective. On the one hand, there were the feminists who took issue not only with the sexist title of the song itself, but with lyrics like “Do ya feel my seed inside ya, growin’?” To these people, Anka would later extend an olive branch by performing the song with the altered lyric “You’re having our baby.” Harder to mollify were the right-to-life activists who protested the song on the basis of lyrics they regarded as pro-abortion: “Didn’t have to keep it/ Wouldn’t put you through it/ You could have swept it from your life/ But you wouldn’t do it.”

Anka, for his part, intended “(You’re) Having My Baby” as a straightforward, apolitical tribute to the wife who had given him four healthy children. And political backlash aside, it struck enough of a chord in American record-buyers to give him one of the biggest hits of his extraordinary career.

D. K. Smith

D. K. Smith

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