Wednesday Jam: For every kiss you give me, I'll give you three
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2022, at 7:52 PM
I can name that tune in three notes.
Well three drum beats, to be exact.
The most iconic intro in the history of rock music is actually four beats from Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine. But you know it after three.
If you haven't figured it out, I am speaking of the Ronettes' 1963 smash "Be My Baby."
Lead singer Ronnie Spector (known as Veronica Bennett when the song was recorded) died on Wednesday at age 78. It's a loss for the rock, pop and R&B world not so much because of the wealth of success the Ronettes had, but more because of the era that Spector and her music – this song in particular – represent.
It was a time before JFK was assassinated, before the Beatles took over the music world, and nobody had any idea what a hippie was. In short, the '60s hadn't quite figured out that the '50s were over. Things seemed a bit more innocent, less complicated.
Ronettes' producer (and later Ronnie's husband) Phil Spector was churning out the hits with his "wall of sound" approach that is evident in this song and so many others.
It's just such a great song, and a number of people should be credited for that – Phil Spector, Blaine, the rest of the Wrecking Crew. But Ronnie's voice (she's the only one of the Ronnettes actually featured on the track) carries the day. It took a good set of pipes to rise above the sounds that Phil was summoned out of all those instruments.
And back to that drum beat for a second. It's such a good beat that I actually found a piece today about "30 songs that use Hal Blaine's 'Be My Baby' drum beat." And that list features some of the biggest names of the artists who came after. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
It amazed me today to learn this was never a No. 1 song. It stalled at No. 2 on Oct. 12, 1963, with "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. If you've never heard of it, you're not alone. I've definitely heard it before, but it's no "Be My Baby" — kinda like "Christopher Cross" beating out "The Wall" for a Grammy.