Be My Baby
|"Be My Baby"|
|Single by The Ronettes|
|from the album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes|
|B-side||"Tedesco and Pitman"|
|Recorded||July - August 1963
Gold Star Studios
|The Ronettes singles chronology|
"Be My Baby" is a song by The Ronettes, released as a single in August 1963. Produced by Phil Spector, who composed the song with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it is often cited as the ultimate embodiment of Spector's wall of sound production technique.
It has also had a substantial impact on popular music. Rolling Stone described the song as a "Rosetta stone for studio pioneers such as the Beatles and Brian Wilson". Allmusic critic Jason Ankeny said: "No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared 'Be My Baby' the greatest pop record ever made — no arguments here."
Composition and production
"Be My Baby" was recorded in the summer of 1963 at the Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. The song was composed by the trio of Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich. Spector recorded a range of instruments including guitars, saxophones, multiple pianos, and horns with innovative studio mixing and over-dubbing. Spector described his approach as "a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll", which became known as the wall of sound. "Be My Baby" was one of the first times Phil Spector used a full orchestra in his recording. The drums were played by Hal Blaine. Darlene Love and Sonny and Cher were part of the group of guests that provided additional backup vocals. Guitars on the session were played by Tommy Tedesco and Bill Pitman, after whom the instrumental "Tedesco and Pitman" on the B-side of the single was named.
"Be My Baby" was the first Ronettes song produced by Phil Spector released on his label, Philles Records. The group had already recorded a track by Greenwich and Barry called "Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love", but this was held back in favour of "Be My Baby".
- Lead vocals by Ronnie Spector
- Backing vocals by Ronnie Spector, Nedra Talley, Estelle Bennett, Ellie Greenwich, Nino Tempo, Bobby Sheen, Sonny Bono, Cher, Darlene Love, Fanita James, and Gracia Nitzsche
- Instrumentation by The Wrecking Crew
Reception and influence
The song reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Singles Chart and #4 on the UK's Record Retailer. It also peaked at number four on the R&B chart. The single sold more than two million copies in 1963. In her autobiography, lead vocalist Ronnie Spector relates that she was on tour with Joey Dee and the Starlighters when "Be My Baby" was introduced by Dick Clark on American Bandstand as the "Record of the Century."
Brian Wilson considers his song "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys to be the 'male answer' to this song. Purportedly, at one time, Wilson is said to have listened to the song in excess of 100 times a day.[by whom?] Spector once said of Wilson: "I'd like to have a nickel for every joint he smoked trying to figure out how I got the 'Be My Baby' sound." Wilson explains his reaction to hearing the record for the first time:
|“||I was in my car with my girlfriend and we were driving around... When all of a sudden this guy Wink Martindale—a disc jockey—he goes, "All right! Here we go with 'Be My Baby' by the Ronettes." It started playing […] All of a sudden it got into this part—"be my, be my baby"—and I said "What is—what?! Whoa whoa!" I pulled over to the side of the street of the curb and went, "...My God! ...Wait a minute! ...No way!" I was flipping out. I really did flip out. Balls-out totally freaked out when I heard. […] In a way it wasn't like having your mind blown, it was like having your mind revamped. It's like, once you've heard that record, you're a fan forever.||”|
Many critics have cited Hal Blaine's drum opening as highly influential. Many artists have mimicked the phrase, including The Four Seasons, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
The song is played over the opening credits of the 1973 Martin Scorsese film, Mean Streets, in an 1987 episode of the TV show Moonlighting, in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, in the episode "Ninth Grade Man" of The Wonder Years, in the end credits of the 2008 movie Baby Mama and in the 2012 movie Tabu by Miguel Gomes (English /Spanish version of "Be My Baby").
One of the best-known and most enduring songs of its era, "Be My Baby" has been featured in numerous lists of songs considered the best. In 2004, the song was listed at #22 by Rolling Stone on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1999, it was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2006, the Library of Congress honored their version by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry. It has also been recognised as one of the most influential songs of all-time by Pitchfork, NME and Time.
The song has been covered many times:
- Sandy Posey (cover 1968)
- Andy Kim (a 1970 chart hit produced by Jeff Barry)
- John Lennon (whose version also was produced by Spector in 1973)
- Hey Ocean! as a bonus track from their 2012 album IS
- Charly Garcia for the album "Sinfonía para adolescentes (Symphonies for Teenagers) (Sui Generis album)'
- Jason Donovan for the album "Let It Be Me" (2008)
- The Dollyrots recorded a version for their 2004 album Eat My Heart Out
- Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance recorded a version which he posted on his website in early 2013 and then released as part of a covers EP called For Jamia... later that year.
- In 1999, Whigfield released her own version of "Be My Baby". The single was later featured on the album Whigfield III. A music video was shot in Barcelona.
- In 2013, American singer Leslie Grace recorded the song in bachata for her eponymous album. Grace's version peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart.
- In 2013, Michael Bublé recorded the song as a bonus track on his album, To Be Loved.
- Travis and Remi Nicole
- Graham Bonnet
- Johnny Goudie
- The Lightning Seeds
- Bay City Rollers
- Blue Öyster Cult
- Mike Viola
- Rachel Sweet
- The Chipettes
- The Bates
- We Are Scientists
- Psyched Up Janis
- Nina Sky
- Maroon 5
- Teen Queens
- Linda Ronstadt
- Reparata and the Delrons
- DM Stith
- Ultima Thule
- Jody Miller
- Tommy Roe
- Sandy Posey
- Brian Wilson
- The Kingsmen
- Ankeny, Jason. ""Be My Baby" Song Review". allmusic.com.
- "Phonograph Recording Contract" (PDF). The Wrecking Crew. American Federation of Musicians. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 500.
- "Don't Worry Baby Songfacts". Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- Mnookin, Seth. "Salon Music Interview". Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- "BBC Press Office - Phil Spector Interview". Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- Rock'n Roll In The Groove http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tn_0JNiqLio#t=196s
- Bielen, Ken (2011-07-31). The Words and Music of Billy Joel. ISBN 9780313380167.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone.com. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- "All-Time 100 Songs". Time. 2011-10-24.
- "Leslie Grace - Chart history: Hot Latin Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-09-07.