STORY BEHIND THE SONG "THE BABY"

Written by Harley Allen and Michael White, Performed by Blake Shelton

Harley Allen and Michael White had never written together until two years ago, but on their first meeting they found one thing in common. Each was the "baby" -- the youngest child -- in his family.

And that led to the birth of "The Baby," a chart-topping hit this past year for Blake Shelton. "It was my first time to write with Harley," begins Michael, "and it's funny how I just started opening up to him. My mom had died a few months earlier, I was going through a separation in my marriage. The whole year had been one thing after another."

Harley picks up the story. "I told Michael, 'Man, I've got something you should hear,' and it was the first verse to a song about being the baby of the family. He was pretty knocked out by it."

"That first line," raves Michael, "is one of the best I've ever heard in any song. And the verse just killed me because my brother was always telling my mom that I was the favorite."

From there, Harley and Michael recalled images from their pasts. "The second verse about the pictures on the wall, that's all true," says Michael. Explains Harley, "My real brothers are named Ronnie and Greg, like in the song. It was pretty much my life and my family until we got to the last verse."

And talk about an emotional wrap-up -- "That's where the mother passes away," says Michael, his voice halting slightly. "It was a little surprising that I could write that so soon after her death -- she died in February of 2001, and we wrote the song in June. The only thing different is that I did get to see her at the hospital, though I never got to talk to her."

Michael also missed what would surely have been a poignant moment. "She didn't get to see me have a No. 1 record," he says wistfully. "Wouldn't that have been nice? The ironic thing, though, is that if she were still here, I probably would not have written the song. I guess, in a way, it's like a gift from her."

For Harley, the song was a form of therapy. "I am thankful that my mother is still alive," he says. "But writing this was still very emotional. Anytime you're thinking about your mom," he adds, "it can tear you up a little."

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