Be My Baby
|"Be My Baby"|
|Single by The Ronettes|
|from the album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica|
|B-side||"Tedesco and Pitman"|
|Studio||Gold Star Studios, Hollywood|
|The Ronettes singles chronology|
|Phil Spector productions singles chronology|
"Be My Baby" is a song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. It was recorded on July 5, 1963 at Gold Star Studios Hollywood by American girl group the Ronettes and released as a single in August 1963 and later placed on their 1964 debut LP Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica. Ronnie Spector is the only Ronette to appear on the single; her future husband Phil produced their elaborately layered recording in what is now considered a quintessential example of his Wall of Sound production formula.
It is considered one of the best songs of the 1960s by NME, Time, and Pitchfork staff members. 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. In 2017, Billboard named the song #1 on their list of the "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time".
Recording and production
"Be My Baby" was recorded in July 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. The Blossoms, led by 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.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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
"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". The song reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Singles Chart (kept from the top spot by The Fireballs' "Sugar Shack") 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."
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."
Many artists have mimicked Hal Blaine's opening drum phrase including:
- The Four Seasons ("Rag Doll")
- Carpenters ("Only Yesterday")
- Billy Joel ("Say Goodbye to Hollywood")
- The Jesus and Mary Chain ("Just Like Honey")
- The Magnetic Fields ("Candy")
- Elvis Costello ("This Town", "No Dancing")
- Meat Loaf ("You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth")
- Marc Shaiman / Scott Wittman ("Good Morning Baltimore", from Hairspray)
- Amy Winehouse ("Back to Black")
- Manic Street Preachers ("Everything Must Go")
- Camera Obscura ("Eighties Fan")
- Laura Stevenson ("Master of Art")
- Skinny Lister ("Cathy")
- Japanese Breakfast ("Boyish")
- The Strokes ("You Talk Way Too Much")
- Bat for Lashes ("What's a Girl to Do?")
- Car Seat Headrest ("My Boy (Twin Fantasy)")
The opening drum phase was also used in the Saturday Night Live segment "Chevy's Girls."
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 told The New York Times in 2013 that he has listened to the song more than 1,000 times. 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.
Notable cover versions
- 1970 – Andy Kim released a single version that reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #24 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart.
- 1977 – Shaun Cassidy covered the song, which was released in Germany and reached #39. It was included on his eponymous debut album.
- 1982 – Gary Glitter covered the song
- 2012 – Leslie Grace covered the song in bachata for her eponymous album in a bilingual version in English and Spanish. Her version peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs and #6 on the Tropical Songs chart.
- 2016 – Danielle Spencer, an Australian actress and singer songwriter covered the song
- 2017 – Human Nature, an Australian vocal group covered it in their album Gimme Some Lovin': Jukebox Vol II alongside many other many other classical hits. They also released an official music video of their interpretation.
- "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.
- "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- 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.[better source needed]
- Rooksby 2001, p. 26.
- Thompson 2010, p. 101.
- Rooksby 2001, p. 25.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 500.
- "Ultratop.be – The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Ultratop.be – The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in French). Ultratop 50.
- "Lescharts.com – The Ronettes – Be My Baby" (in French). Les classement single.
- "Musicline.de – The Ronettes Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – The Ronettes – Be My Baby". VG-lista.
- "The Ronettes: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
- "The Ronettes Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
- Cash Box Top 100 Singles, October 12, 1963
- Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 28, 1963
- "Still Tingling Spines, 50 Years Later". Retrieved 2016-01-16.
- Bielen, Ken (2011-07-31). "The Words and Music of Billy Joel". ISBN 9780313380167.
- "Kick kick kick snare, repeat: 15 songs that borrow the drum intro from "Be My Baby"". avclub.com.
- Meatloaf – You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) (SHORT HIT) ((STEREO)) 1978
- Heller, Dana (2011). Hairspray. John Wiley & Sons.
- Shewey, Don (2002) [2002-10-01]. "Broadway's biggest do". The Advocate: 62–63.
- "Kick kick kick snare, repeat: 15 songs that borrow the drum intro from "Be My Baby"". avclub.com.
- Howard 2004, pp. 56–57.
- "BBC Press Office – Phil Spector Interview". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- "Rock'n Roll In The Groove 5 of 6". YouTube. 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
- Brown 2008, p. 185.
- "Don't Worry Baby by The Beach Boys Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
- [dead link]
- Carlin 2006, p. 160.
- Don, Was (1995). Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (Documentary film).
- "Be My Baby (song by Andy Kim) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
- "Leslie Grace – Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- HumanNatureLive YouTube Channel: Human Nature - Be My Baby (Official Video)
- 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.