Be My Baby

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"Be My Baby"
Be My Baby by The Ronettes US single side-A.png
Single by the Ronettes
B-side"Tedesco and Pitman"
ReleasedAugust 1963 (1963-08)
RecordedJuly 5, 1963 (1963-07-05)
StudioGold Star Studios, Hollywood
Genre
Length2:41
LabelPhilles 116
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Phil Spector
The Ronettes singles chronology
"Good Girls"
(1963)
"Be My Baby"
(1963)
"Baby, I Love You"
(1963)
Phil Spector productions singles chronology
"Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home"
(1963)
"Be My Baby"
(1963)
"A Fine, Fine Boy"
(1968)
Official audio
"Be My Baby" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Be My Baby" is a song by American girl group the Ronettes that was released as a single in August 1963 and later appeared as a track on their 1964 album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica. The song was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. Phil also produced the Ronettes' recording in what is now considered a quintessential example of his Wall of Sound production formula. It was recorded with a host of session musicians later known as the Wrecking Crew. Ronnie Spector is the only Ronette that appears on the track.

It is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s by NME, Time, and Pitchfork staff members.[1][2][3] In 1999, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[4] In 2004, the song was ranked 22 by Rolling Stone in its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and described as a "Rosetta stone for studio pioneers such as the Beatles and Brian Wilson," a notion supported by AllMusic who writes, "No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared 'Be My Baby' the greatest pop record ever made—no arguments here."[5][6] In 2006, the Library of Congress honored the Ronettes' version by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.[7] In 2017, Billboard named the song number 1 on their list of the "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time".[8]

Composition[edit]

The song was composed by the trio of Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich. It features I – ii – V7 and I – vi – IV – V chord progressions.[citation needed]

Recording[edit]

"Be My Baby" was recorded in July 1963[9] at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. Spector recorded a range of instruments including guitars, saxophones, multiple pianos, and horns with innovative studio mixing and over-dubbing. Spector described his production method as "a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll", which became known as the wall of sound.[10] "Be My Baby" was one of the first times Phil Spector used a full orchestra in his recording.[citation needed] The drums were played by Hal Blaine, who introduced a drum beat that later became widely imitated.[11] 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.[12]

The song was arranged by Spector regular Jack Nitzsche and engineered by Larry Levine.[9] Ronnie Spector is the only Ronette to appear on the record.[13]

Release[edit]

"Be My Baby" was the Ronettes' first 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 favor of "Be My Baby".[14] The song reached number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Singles Chart and number 4 on the UK's Record Retailer.[15] It also peaked at number four on the R&B chart.[16] 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."[full citation needed]

Legacy[edit]

Barbara Cane, vice president and general manager of writer-publisher relations for the songwriters' agency BMI, estimated that the song has been played in 3.9 million feature presentations on radio and television since 1963. "That means it's been played for the equivalent of 17 years back to back."[17]

The lyric "whoa-oh-oh-oh" was reprised in their follow-up single "Baby, I Love You".[18]

The song appears in the opening credit sequence of Martin Scorsese's film Mean Streets (1973). It was used without clearance by Scorsese, allowing Spector to take a bite out of Scorsese's earnings for years. Similarly, the song appears in the opening sequence of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

The song plays in the "I Am Curious… Maddie" episode of Moonlighting aired March 31, 1987, where Dave and Maddie consummated their relationship. This event not only drew the largest audience the show had, but also may have led to the show's decline.[19][20]

The song is invoked and interpolated in Eddie Money's 1986 song "Take Me Home Tonight", in which Ronnie Spector replies to "Just like Ronnie sang ..." with "Be my little baby".[21]

Ramones recorded a song titled "Bye Bye Baby" in their Halfway to Sanity album, released in 1987. In 1999, Ronnie Spector joined Joey Ramone and recorded a duet for the album She Talks to Rainbows.

The 2007 single "B Boy Baby" by Mutya Buena featuring Amy Winehouse borrows melodic and lyrical passages from "Be My Baby".[22]

Drum phrase[edit]

Blaine reused the drum phrase in the Frank Sinatra song "Strangers in the Night" in a slower and softer arrangement.[23] Many artists have mimicked Hal Blaine's opening drum phrase,[11][24] including:

Effect on Brian Wilson[edit]

Wilson in 1964

"Be My Baby" had a profound lifelong impact on the Beach Boys' founder Brian Wilson.[32][33] His biographer Peter Ames Carlin describes the song as becoming "a spiritual touchstone" for Wilson,[34] while music historian Luis Sanchez states that it formed an enduring part of Wilson's mythology, being the Spector record that "etched itself the deepest into Brian's mind ... it comes up again and again in interviews and biographies, variably calling up themes of deep admiration, a source of consolation, and a baleful haunting of the spirit."[35] Spector was aware of Wilson's obsession with "Be My Baby" and remarked that he would "like to have a nickel for every joint [Brian] smoked" trying to figure out the record's sound.[36]

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." ... 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.

—Brian Wilson, 1995[37]

Wilson first heard "Be My Baby" while driving and listening to the radio; he became so enthralled by the song that he felt compelled to pull over to the side of the road and analyze the chorus.[38][nb 1] Wilson immediately concluded that it was the greatest record he had ever heard.[33] He bought the single and kept it on his living room jukebox, listening to it whenever the mood struck him.[40][33] Copies of the song were located everywhere inside his home, as well as inside his car and in the studio.[41] Sanchez writes,

The final result of the story and the variations of it that accumulate from an array of biographies and documentaries is an image of wretchedness: Brian locked in the bedroom of his Bel Air house in the early '70s, alone, curtains drawn shut, catatonic, listening to "Be My Baby" over and over at aggressive volumes, for hours, as the rest of The Beach Boys record something in the home studio downstairs.[35]

"Know what's weird about this?" Brian asked in his ingenuous way, playing those four pantocratic notes for the twentieth time. "It's the same sound a carpenter makes when he's hammering in a nail, a bird sings when it gets on its branch, or a baby makes when she shakes her rattle. Didja ever notice that?"

David Dalton, quoting Wilson's comments on "Be My Baby"[42]

Music journalist David Dalton, who visited Wilson's home in 1967, said that Wilson had analyzed "Be My Baby" "like an adept memorizing the Koran."[42] Dalton later wrote about a box of tapes he had discovered in Wilson's bedroom: "I assumed they were studio demos or reference tracks and threw one on the tape machine. It was the strangest thing ... All the tapes were of Brian talking into a tape recorder. Hour after hour of stoned ramblings on the meaning of life, color vibrations, fate, death, vegetarianism and Phil Spector."[43][42]

In the early 1970s, Wilson instructed his engineer Stephen Desper to create a tape loop consisting only of the chorus of "Be My Baby". Wilson listened to the loop for several hours in what Desper saw as "some kind of a trance."[40] Wilson's daughter Carnie stated that during her childhood: "I woke up every morning to boom boom-boom pow! Boom boom-boom pow! Every day."[44] Wilson told The New York Times in 2013 that he had listened to the song at least 1,000 times.[17] In his 2016 memoir, Wilson recalled playing the song's drum intro "ten times until everyone in the room told me to stop, and then I played it ten more times."[38] Bandmate Mike Love remembered Wilson comparing the song to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.[45]

Cover versions[edit]

1970 – Andy Kim[edit]

Andy Kim released a version of the song as a single in 1970. In the United States, his version spent 11 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 17,[46] and No. 24 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.[47][48] It also reached No. 12 on the Cash Box Top 100.[49] In Canada, the song reached No. 6 on the RPM 100,[50] while reaching No. 16 on the New Zealand Listener chart,[51] No. 24 in West Germany,[52] and No. 36 on Australia's Go-Set National Top 60.[53] It was also a hit in Brazil.[54]

Andy Kim's version was ranked No. 80 on RPM's year end ranking of the "RPM 100 Top Singles of '71".[55]

1972 – Jody Miller[edit]

In 1972, Jody Miller released a version as a single and on the album There's a Party Goin' On.[56] Her version reached No. 15 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart and No. 35 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.[57][58] It also reached No. 15 on the Cash Box Country Top 75 and Record World's Country Singles Chart.[59][60] In Canada, the song reached No. 11 on the RPM Country Playlist.[61]

Other[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[79] Gold 400,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ For Wilson, songs that "hit almost as hard" as "Be My Baby" includes "Rock Around the Clock" (Bill Haley & His Comets, 1955), "Keep A-Knockin'" (Little Richard, 1957), "Hey Girl" (Freddie Scott, 1963), and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" (The Righteous Brothers, 1964). Wilson conceded that "it's hard to re-create the feeling of first hearing 'Be My Baby'".[39]

Citations

  1. ^ "Staff Lists: The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s | Features". Pitchfork. 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  2. ^ Be My Baby. "100 Best Songs of the 1960s | #2 The Ronettes – Be My Baby". Nme.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  3. ^ "All-Time 100 Songs". Time. 2011-10-24.
  4. ^ Grammy Hall Of Fame Archived 2015-07-07 at the Wayback Machine. Santa Monica, CA: The Recording Academy. Accessed April 2015.
  5. ^ Ankeny, Jason. ""Be My Baby" Song Review". AllMusic.com.
  6. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone.com. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  7. ^ "The National Recording Registry 2006". The Library of Congress. March 6, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  8. ^ "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Phil Spector: Back to MONO (1958-1969) ABKCO Records, 1991, liner notes
  10. ^ Buskin, Richard. "CLASSIC TRACKS: The Ronettes 'Be My Baby'". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  11. ^ a b Lewis, Randy (2019-03-11). "Hal Blaine, prolific 'Wrecking Crew' drummer who worked with Frank Sinatra and Elvis, dies at 90". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  12. ^ "Phonograph Recording Contract" (PDF). The Wrecking Crew. American Federation of Musicians. Retrieved 10 October 2013.[better source needed]
  13. ^ a b Rooksby 2001, p. 26.
  14. ^ Thompson 2004, p. 79.
  15. ^ Rooksby 2001, p. 25.
  16. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 500.
  17. ^ a b "Still Tingling Spines, 50 Years Later". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  18. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Be My Baby - The Ronettes". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  19. ^ Spitz, Marc (August 16, 2013). "Still Tingling Spines, 50 Years Later". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  20. ^ Clark, Kenneth R. (May 21, 1989). "Why 'Moonlighting' Went Bust". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  21. ^ Goldsmith, Annie (1 October 2020). "Zendaya In Talks to Star in New Ronnie Spector Biopic". Town & Country. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  22. ^ Walters, Sarah (21 December 2007). "REVIEW:Mutya Buena ft Amy Winehouse - B Boy Baby (Island)". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  23. ^ Mattingly, Rick. "Hal Blaine". www.pas.org. Percussive Arts Society. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  24. ^ a b c d e Casciato, Cory; Zaleski, Annie; Heller, Jason; Adams, Erik; Sava, Oliver; Eakin, Marah (2013-02-09). "Kick kick kick snare, repeat: 15 songs that borrow the drum intro from "Be My Baby"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  25. ^ Bielen, Ken (2011-07-31). The Words and Music of Billy Joel. ISBN 9780313380167.
  26. ^ "Everything Must Go - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2020-08-20.
  27. ^ "Taylor Swift's Songs: All ranked by Rob Sheffield - Rolling Stone". rollingstone.com. 24 November 2020.
  28. ^ "Meatloaf - You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) (SHORT HIT) ((STEREO)) 1978". YouTube. 23 March 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  29. ^ Heller, Dana (2011). Hairspray. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781444395624.
  30. ^ Shewey, Don (2002) [2002-10-01]. "Broadway's biggest do". The Advocate: 62–63.
  31. ^ Leupold, Dennis (December 14, 2018). "50 Best Songs of 2018". Rolling Stone.
  32. ^ Brown 2008, p. 185.
  33. ^ a b c Howard 2004, pp. 56–57.
  34. ^ Carlin 2006, p. 44.
  35. ^ a b Sanchez 2014, pp. 52–53.
  36. ^ "First major TV interview with legendary Phil Spector screened on BBC Two". Bbc.co.uk. October 25, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  37. ^ Espar, David, Levi, Robert (Directors) (1995). Rock & Roll (Miniseries).
  38. ^ a b Wilson & Greenman 2016, p. 73.
  39. ^ Wilson & Greenman 2016, p. 77.
  40. ^ a b Carlin 2006, p. 160.
  41. ^ Sanchez 2014, p. 53.
  42. ^ a b c Dalton, David (May 6, 2002). "Epiphany at Zuma Beach Or Brian Wilson hallucinates me". Gadfly.
  43. ^ Sanchez 2014, p. 52.
  44. ^ Don, Was (1995). Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (Documentary film).
  45. ^ Love 2016, p. 74.
  46. ^ "Be My Baby Chart History", Billboard. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  47. ^ "Be My Baby (song by Andy Kim) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  48. ^ "Easy Listening", Billboard. December 19, 1970. p. 44. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  49. ^ "Cash Box Top 100", Cash Box. December 26, 1970. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  50. ^ "RPM 100", RPM. Volume 14, No. 20. January 9, 1971. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  51. ^ "NZ Listener chart statistics for Be My Baby", Flavour of New Zealand. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  52. ^ Andy Kim - Be My Baby, norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  53. ^ "Go-Set National Top 60", Go-Set. March 20, 1971. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  54. ^ "Hits of the World", Billboard. April 3, 1971. p. 62. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  55. ^ "RPM 100 Top Singles of '71", RPM. Volume 16, No. 20. January 6, 1972. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  56. ^ "Billboard Album Reviews", Billboard. September 22, 1972. p. 34. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  57. ^ "Hot Country Singles", Billboard. May 20, 1972. p. 40. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  58. ^ "Easy Listening", Billboard. April 1, 1972. p. 31. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  59. ^ "Cash Box Country Top 75", Cash Box. May 13, 1972. p. 36. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  60. ^ "The Country Singles Chart", Record World. May 20, 1972. p. 50. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  61. ^ "The Programmers Country Playlist", RPM. Volume 17, No. 13. May 13, 1972. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  62. ^ Shaun Cassidy - Be My Baby, norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  63. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Teen Queens – Be My Baby". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  64. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles for 1992". ARIA. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  65. ^ "Leslie Grace – Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on March 3, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  66. ^ "The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  67. ^ "The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  68. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade, November 11, 1964". Chumtribute.com. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  69. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2020-01-28. Retrieved 2020-01-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  70. ^ "The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in French). Les classement single.
  71. ^ "The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  72. ^ "flavour of New Zealand - search lever". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  73. ^ "The Ronettes – Be My Baby". VG-lista.
  74. ^ "The Ronettes: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  75. ^ "The Ronettes Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  76. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/12/63". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 24 March 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  77. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1963/Top 100 Songs of 1963". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  78. ^ "Cash Box YE Singles (Pop) 1963". Tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  79. ^ "British single certifications – Ronettes – Be My Baby". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 17, 2020.

Bibliography

External links[edit]