On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
The Ronettes – Be My Baby (1963)
We’re in New York again today and it’s yet another girl group. Seriously, what was going on in New York in the 1960s that they were producing so many fantastic girl groups? We haven’t even heard anything about The Supremes yet. Today it is the turn of The Ronettes. Our chosen song was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector (he keeps popping up, doesn’t he?) and was entrusted with The Ronettes. Lead singer Veronica Bennett (later known as Ronnie Spector) was the only one of The Ronettes to actually sing on the recording of what became Be My Baby.
Be My Baby follows a theme that is becoming quite familiar on this 1001 Songs list: unrequited love. With Be My Baby the unrequited love is more speculative. It depends on how much of a romantic you are. The Ronettes sing of meeting a very special guy and tell us how much they want to be with him. This is the “baby” of the title of course, and we listen as they tell us all the things that they will do to make this person happy. Such promises include eternal love and making this person proud of them. The reason I suggest this could be unrequited love is that all we know is the narrator wants to be with this guy. We don’t know for certain whether they are successful in their desire or not.
Be My Baby is one of my favourites from the 1960s so I needed no introduction to this one. That said, reading up on the song’s history and composition was interesting and fruitful. It’s hard to say what makes this song transcend others of a similar theme. Ronnie Spector’s voice enhances this beautiful composition and though my potential pessimism about whether the song is a happy one or not overshadows proceedings, I would say based on the upbeat sound and vocals, this narrator has surely got her man. A 1960s’ gem.
Favourite songs so far:
Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)
Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
Peggy Lee – Fever (1958)
The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)
The Shirelles – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1960)
Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
Roy Orbison – In Dreams (1963)
The Ronettes – Be My Baby (1963)