‘Nobody’s Child’ was a bonus song on the 2007 reissue of Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.
The song was written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree, and first recorded in 1949 by Hank Snow.
The Traveling Wilburys recorded ‘Nobody’s Child’ at the beginning of the sessions for their second album. It was in response to Olivia Harrison’s request for a song for the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation, which raised money for Romanian children abandoned in state-run orphanages following the fall of communism.
There was a request to just do a tune that would help, you know, attract some attention, and create maybe some funds to help the orphans in Romania. So we did it, did it very quick. Somebody else suggested asking some other people to, um, make it… rather than a single, make it into an album, so we phoned around a few people and they kindly gave tracks. Put it together. Talked Warner Records into putting it out. And they very kindly distributed it for us. And that’s it, really.
There’s been a lot of money collected. Not from the record yet, ’cause we don’t know that yet. But through an appeal through an English newspaper. The British public, who are very generous, gave a million pounds in six weeks, which is incredible.
BBC Radio 1, 25 October 1990
The song was released as a single on 18 June 1990, in between the band’s two albums. The b-side was Dave Stewart’s ‘Lumiere’. The 12″ vinyl edition also included a live version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ by Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band.
‘Nobody’s Child’ was the opening track on the album Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal, which George Harrison compiled. The album also included Starr’s live recording, and the Harrison song ‘That Kind Of Woman’, recorded by Eric Clapton.
One person wrote, about ‘Nobody’s Child’, which was done very fast, it was just like a country tune. You know, if you’re not interested in Dylan and me and Petty and Jeff Lynne, then, you know, you’re not interested in it. But for them to say we’re a bunch of old farts, well, they’re right. We are a bunch of old farts.
The Traveling Wilburys Revisited, BBC Radio 2
‘Nobody’s Child’ reached number nine on the New Zealand singles chart. It peaked at 44 in the UK.
A music video for the single was directed by Derek Hayes. It included animated scenes and news footage of the Romanian children.