Music Friday: In This Soulful Hit, Anita Baker Bets Everything on Her Wedding Ring

March 19, 2021

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you sensational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we present the soulful Anita Baker singing her biggest hit, “Giving You the Best That I Got.”

In this entrancing love song, the eight-time Grammy Award winner tells her husband how much she loves him, how she feels at home in his arms, and how, together, they can calm a stormy sea. Others believe the relationship will fail, but she's convinced that it will stand the test of time. In the last verse, she makes a solemn vow: “I bet everything on my wedding ring / I’m giving you the best that I got.”

Released in September 1988, the song was both a commercial and critical success. The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and an impressive #3 on the broad-based Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Giving You the Best That I Got” appeared as the third track on Baker’s 3x platinum album of the same name. The song, which was co-written by Baker, Randy Holland and Skip Scarborough, yielded a whopping five Grammy nominations and three Grammy Awards — two in the exact same category in back-to-back years (We’ll explain).

In 1989, Baker won Grammys for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and earned nominations that year for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

In 1990, she won another Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Because the single was released in September 1988 (just before the cutoff for 1989 Grammy eligibility) and the album was released in October 1988 (just after the 1989 award cutoff), Baker was able to take home the Vocal Performance Grammy twice for the same song.

According to songfacts.com, Holland originally wrote the song as a personal commentary about his struggles breaking into the music business. It wasn't a love song at all. He was simply giving the best that he got to get his career off the ground. When Baker heard the song, she immediately felt a connection because she had just become engaged to be married. She asked to record it as long as she could speed up the tempo and add some personal touches to the lyrics.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, and abandoned at the age of two, Baker was raised by a foster family in Detroit until she was 12. Sadly, both her foster parents died and Baker went through her adolescence in the custody of her foster sister.

By the age of 16, Baker was singing R&B at Detroit nightclubs, where bandleader David Washington recognized her talent. He encouraged her to audition for the band, Chapter 8, and she soon landed a job as the group’s lead singer.

When Chapter 8 was dropped by Arista in 1979, Baker headed back to Detroit, where she worked as a receptionist and a waitress. Three years later, based on the encouragement of record executive Otis Smith, Baker embarked on a solo career. In June 2018, Baker accepted BET’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

Baker, who turned 63 on January 26, continues to have an active career.

Please check out the official video of Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got.” It's been viewed on Youtube 21 million times and the lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“Giving You the Best That I Got”
Written by Anita Baker, Randy Holland and Skip Scarborough. Performed by Anita Baker.

Ain’t there something I can give you
In exchange for everything you give to me
Read my mind and make me feel just fine
When I think my peace of mind is out of reach

The scales are sometimes unbalanced
And you bear the weight of all that has to be
I hope you see that you can lean on me
And together we can calm a stormy sea

We love so strong and so unselfishly
And I tell you now that I made a vow
I’m giving you the best that I got, baby
Yes, I tell you now, that I made a vow
I’m giving you the best that I got, honey

Everybody’s got opinions
‘Bout the way they think our story’s gonna end
Some folks feel it’s just a superficial thrill
Everybody’s gonna have to think again

We love so strong and so unselfishly
They don’t bother me so I’m gonna keep on
Giving you the best that I got, baby
They don’t bother me, said I’m gonna keep on
Giving you the best that I got, listen baby

Somebody understands me
Somebody gave his heart to me
I stumbled my whole life long
Always on my own, now I’m home

My weary mind is rested
And I feel as if my home is in your arms
Fears are all gone, I like the sound of your song
And I think I wanna sing it forever

We love so strong and so unselfishly
And I made a vow so I tell you now
I’m giving you the best that I got, listen baby
I bet everything on my wedding ring
I’m giving you the best that I got
Givin’ it to you baby

Giving you the best that I got
Giving you the best that I got
Giving you the best that I got

Credit: Photo by MC2 Erica R. Gardner, USN, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.