"Filipino Baby" is a country music song written by Bill Cox and Clarke Van Ness. First recorded in 1937, it was based on an earlier song from 1899. The song became a hit in 1946 for three different country artists: Cowboy Copas, T. Texas Tyler, and Ernest Tubb.
|Single by Bill Cox, Cliff Hobs|
|Songwriter(s)||Bill Cox, Clarke Van Ness|
The song tells of warships leaving Manila as sailors recall the islands where they spent happy hours "making love to every pretty girl they met." One bright-eyed sailor displays a photo of his Filipino maiden, described as "my treasure and my pet", who has pearly teeth, hair as black as jet, and lips as sweet as honey. The sailor returns from South Carolina to marry his Filipino baby.
While the song's original lyrics refer to a "colored sailor" and a "black-faced" Filipino girl, this element was modified in later versions. In Cowboy Copas' 1946 version, there is no indication that the sailor is colored, and the girl is described as his "dark-faced Filipino baby." In other versions, reference to the darkness of the girl's face is omitted.
Cox claimed he wrote the song about an uncle who married a Filipino woman during the Philippine–American War. However, the lyrics largely mirror an earlier song, "Mah Filippino Baby", copyrighted in 1899 by Charles K. Harris.
The song became a hit in 1946 for three different country artists: Cowboy Copas, T. Texas Tyler, and Ernest Tubb. The Copas version was released on the King label and reached No. 4 on the country chart in August 1946. The Tyler version was released on the 4 Star label and reached No. 5 in August 1946. The Tubb version was released on the Decca label and reached No. 2 in November 1946 and ranked No. 17 on the year-end country charts.
The song was later covered by Hank Locklin on his 1958 album, Foreign Love. Locklin's release was a concept album containing 12 songs about foreign love affairs with other songs including "Fraulein", "Geisha Girl", and "Mexicali Rose".
In 1963, Robert E. Lee and His Travelers released "Son of the Filipino Baby" on the Sage & Sand label. It tells of the 17-year-old son of the original Filipino Baby who is then serving in the Navy. He is stationed in the Philippines, and he has met his own Filipino maiden.
- "Filipino Baby". International Lyrics Playground. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- "Filipino Baby". Traditional Music Library. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
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- Tin Pan Alley and The Philippines, p. xvii.
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- "ROBERT E. LEE Son Of The Filipino Baby / Someone Else's Arms 45 rpm (Promo)". 45andsingle. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- "Robert E Lee - Son Of The Filipino Baby". YouTube. Retrieved December 2, 2020.