Be My Baby
|"Be My Baby"|
|Single by The Ronettes|
|from the album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica|
|B-side||"Tedesco and Pitman"|
|Recorded||July 1963Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, California,|
|Label||Philles Records 116|
|The Ronettes singles chronology|
"Be My Baby" is a song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector. It was first recorded and released by American girl group The Ronettes as a single in August 1963 and later placed on their 1964 debut LP Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica. Spector produced their elaborately layered recording in what is now largely considered the ultimate embodiment of his Wall of Sound production formula.
It is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s by Pitchfork Media, NME and Time. 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." In 1999, it was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2006, the Library of Congress honored the Ronettes' version by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.
Recording and production
"Be My Baby" was recorded in July of 1963 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. "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 favor of "Be My Baby".
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2014)|
- The Ronettes
- Additional musicians and production staff
- Louis Blackburn - trombone
- Hal Blaine - drums
- Sonny Bono - backing vocals
- Frank Capp - percussion
- Cher - backing vocals
- Al De Lory - keyboards
- Steve Douglas - saxophone
- Ellie Greenwich - backing vocals
- Carol Kaye – bass
- Darlene Love - backing vocals
- Fanita James - backing vocals
- Jay Migliori - saxophone
- Gracia Nitzsche - backing vocals
- Bill Pitman - guitar
- Ray Pohlman - bass guitar
- Don Randi - piano
- Leon Russell - keyboards
- Bobby Sheen - backing vocals
- Tommy Tedesco - guitar
- Nino Tempo - backing vocals
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."
Many artists have mimicked Hal Blaine's opening drum phrase including The Four Seasons, Billy Joel, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Magnetic Fields, Elvis Costello, and Meat Loaf.
Effect on Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys developed a fervent obsession with the song, leading Spector to quip: "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 is said[by whom?] to have once listened to the song in excess of 100 times a day. 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.
The song ultimately revamped Wilson's songwriting and creative aspirations. Wilson considers his "Don't Worry Baby" to be the male answer to "Be My Baby". At one point, he instructed Beach Boys engineer Stephen Desper to create a tape loop consisting only of the song's chorus, listening to it for several hours in what Desper saw as "some kind of a trance". 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." Brian Wilson eventually did a cover of the song with The Beach Boys in July 1980 and later in 2000 on his solo album Live at the Roxy Theatre.
- 1970Andy Kim, released a single version that reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #24 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart. –
- 1975John Lennon, during 1973 Rock and Roll sessions between John Lennon and Phil Spector; the song was recorded, later included on the unauthorized Roots: John Lennon Sings the Great Rock & Roll Hits. –
- 1980The Beach Boys recorded the song in July with lead vocal by Mike Love. –
- 1996Shogo Hamada, The Door for the Blue Sky –
- 2000Brian Wilson, Live at the Roxy Theatre –
- 2012Leslie Grace, covered the song in bachata for her eponymous album. Grace's version peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs and #6 on the Tropical Songs chart. –
- 2015Melissa Manchester, You Gotta Love the Life –
- "Staff Lists: The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s | Features". Pitchfork. 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Be My Baby. "100 Best Songs of the 1960s | #2 The Ronettes - Be My Baby". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- "All-Time 100 Songs". Time. 2011-10-24.
- Ankeny, Jason. ""Be My Baby" Song Review". allmusic.com.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". RollingStone.com. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- ‘’Phil Spector: Back to MONO (1958-1969)’’ ABKCO Records, 1991, liner notes
- Richard Buskin. "CLASSIC TRACKS: The Ronettes 'Be My Baby'". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- "Phonograph Recording Contract" (PDF). The Wrecking Crew. American Federation of Musicians. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- Rooksby 2001, p. 26.
- Rooksby 2001, p. 25.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 500.
- Bielen, Ken (2011-07-31). "The Words and Music of Billy Joel". ISBN 9780313380167.
- Video on YouTube
- Howard 2004, pp. 56–57.
- "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
- Brown 2008, p. 185.
- "Don't Worry Baby Songfacts". Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- Mnookin, Seth. "Salon Music Interview". Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- Carlin 2006, p. 160.
- Don, Was (1995). Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (Documentary film).
- Andy Kim, "Be My Baby" Chart Positions Retrieved July 19, 2014.
- Thompson, Dave (2010). Phil Spector: Wall Of Pain. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857122162.
- Doe, Andrew Grayham. "VAULTS". Endless Summer Quarterly. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- "The Door for the Blue Sky". AllMusic.
- Granata, Charles L. (2003). Wouldn't it be Nice: Brian Wilson and the Making of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. London: A Cappella Books. ISBN 9781556525070.
- "Leslie Grace - Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- Shapiro, Gregg (2015). "Melissa Manchester Loving the life: an interview with Melissa Manchester". ChicagoPride.com. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
The thing is that the song is brilliant. True to historical form, brilliant songs should be covered by many artists. It was the 50th anniversary of "Be My Baby" and it seemed appropriate. Again, it was another song that I'd been working on onstage for awhile.
- Cole, Christine (20 February 2015). "Grammy winning Melissa Manchester 'at a new beginning'". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on 22 March 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- Brown, Mick (2008). Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector. Vintage. ISBN 978-1-4000-7661-1.
- Carlin, Peter Ames (2006). Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Rodale. ISBN 978-1-59486-320-2.
- Howard, David N. (2004). Sonic Alchemy: Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings (1. edition. ed.). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. ISBN 9780634055607.
- Rooksby, Rikky (2001). Inside Classic Rock Tracks: Songwriting and Recording Secrets of 100 Great Songs from 1960 to the Present Day. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-654-0.
- Classic Tracks: The Ronettes 'Be My Baby'
- Library of Congress essay for its selection for the National Recording Registry.
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics