RaR8 – Be My Baby
Listen to the recording of the tune by clicking the attached mp3 file. This will open the recording in a new window or tab. Listen and follow along with the listening guide in the book.
Read the liner notes below.
Read the information “What to Listen For”
Respond to the Rate-A-Record/Questions by clicking on the assignment link and then click on on the button “Write Submission” (to the right of Text Submission) to record your response. Do not use the comments field.
Be My Baby
Ronnie Bennett, her sister Estelle, and their cousin Nedra Talley grew up in New York City and started singing together as children. Ronnie and Estelle’s grandmother not only encouraged their career but actively cultivated it; she used to shut the three girls in a room for long periods of time and encourage them to harmonize. When they were teenagers the girls entered a talent contest at the Apollo and won. After that they acquired a manager and started singing at hops and charity shows, but their real break came when the three underage girls tried to get into the fashionable Joey Dee’s Peppermint Lounge. To make themselves look older they dressed in tight skirts and heels and high, teased hairdos; they looked so glamorous that the manager assumed they were the singing trio he had booked for the night! They got on stage and sang the Ray Charles hit “What’d I Say” before the real group showed up—by which point they had lost their gig to the young trio, who was promptly booked for regular appearances at the club. They made their first record in 1961 as “Ronnie and the Relatives”; their record company renamed them the Ronettes, but this didn’t help their modest sales. They continued to record, singing backup on records for Bobby Rydell and Del Shannon before up-and-coming producer Phil Spector.
Under Spector’s tutelage and production, the Ronettes became the most famous girl group in rock and roll; their sophisticated image, fashionable dresses, and modern dance moves made them international stars. During their world tour in 1964, they played a number of concerts in England with an up-and-coming London group called the Rolling Stones; they also met the Beatles, who were star struck and asked for their autographs.
The Ronettes had a string of hits before they disbanded in 1966. Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968; she suffered several years of psychological abuse before fleeing their house with only the clothes on her back. In recent years she has emerged as a feminist icon; she is seen as the first tough girl in rock music and praised for her tenacious, fifteen-year battle to recover her royalties from her ex-husband. In 2000 she was awarded $2.6 million, and as a result of her advocacy, the U.S. Congress passed legislation making it easier for artists to recover monies from record sales.
WHAT TO LISTEN FOR:
Ronnie’s amazing voice and signature effects
Backbeat patterns on the snare drum
The role of the background singers/vocals
The “size” of the sound – the echo on the snare drum – the “wall of sound” concept
The use of strings
Notice in the form or construction of the piece that the instrumental verse is a bunch of violins playing the melody, rather than having an electric guitar or organ play a solo. This approach “sweetens” the feel of the tune so that it will be more appealing to more audiences – especially those not into rock and roll at this time. Also, notice how much of the tune consists of the chorus and how the introduction is brought back near the end of the tune. An amazing piece of music.
RATE-A-RECORD/QUESTIONS TO ANSWER:
Why is Phil Spector such an important figure in the development of rock and roll?
What is the “Wall of Sound”?
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