(Written January 23, 2023)
If you stick around long enough, you’ll realize just how much I adore the Motown girl groups of the early ‘60s. Yet, Be My Baby by the Ronettes is perhaps my favorite. There is something downright haunting about the song and Ronnie Spector’s voice. In fact, some of my favorite Christmas songs are versions sung by the Ronettes as well.
Be My Baby demonstrates Phil Spector’s wall of sound so well. In fact, I can’t imagine the Ronettes sound without it. Yet, here I am probably the only person on the planet under the age of 50 to know what Phil Spector’s wall of sound is or who Phil Spector was. The funny thing is that it didn’t always work so well. I normally love it in the girl group music he helped produce, and yet, The Long and Winding Road and most of the Let It Be (1970) album is overproduced. I actually understood why the Beatles, led by Paul McCartney, released a stripped down version called Let It Be… Naked (2003) decades later, reimagining the entire album without Spector’s wall of sound. I actually prefer Naked.
Sadly, Ronnie, who happened to have befriended the Beatles at the height of their (and her) fame, passed away in January 2022. Her legacy lives on, and frankly, I can’t imagine a time when Be My Baby won’t be considered an absolute pop gem.