16 July 2010

Sonny & Cher: I Got You Babe

Sonny & Cher: I Got You Babe

Here at Lyrics, Weakly headquarters, my method of choosing a song to discuss generally follows the following schema:

  1. Are there any outstanding requests?
    1. If yes: Pick one of them, discuss it.
    2. If no: Proceed to the next step.
  2. Listen to the radio for a couple days. With all the dumb songs out there, something’ll come up by Tuesday.

This past week, though, has been pretty crazy, and i haven’t gotten as much oldies/​classic rock/​today’s top hits/​mix of the 70s, 80s, and whatever radio station listening in as i usually do. As a result, i arrived at a point where i needed to write up a song, but i didn’t have a song to write about.

And then deep memory rescued me.

True story from my twisted life: Somewhere in my parents’ house is an old VHS tape that contains video footage of one of my sisters and me singing along with Sonny & Cher’s 1965 chart-topper, “I Got You Babe”. The best part? I sang along with Cher, and she sang along with Sonny, not ’cause we were being silly (though we certainly were), but because Cher sounds so much more guy-like than Sonny in this song.

Anyway, it’s time to move on to the lyrics. This is a duet, which means i probably ought to show who sang what. So i’ll be italicizing the words Cher sang (like i do with most song lyrics on this blog), underlining Sonny’s lines, and marking the lines they sang together with both underlining and italics.

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow

If you look through the lyrics of this entire song, you’ll find no real hint about what it is they say that Sonny and Cher allegedly don’t know. Quite seriously, i’m curious. Maybe they don’t know the rules to Parcheesi? ’Cause i could totally help them out on that one.

Also, at the time this song was released Sonny was 30 years old, Cher was 19. Yeah, Cher, you might have been young and not known whatever it was, but Sonny clearly was at least old enough to know how to stay this side of legal.

And finally, i find it telling that Cher doesn’t specify exactly what sort of growing was to be involved in letting them find out what they didn’t know. Given these before and after album covers, i’m suspecting it had to do with some sort of plastic surgery.

Well I don't know if all that’s true
’Cause you got me, and baby I got you

Well, Sonny, of course you don’t know if it’s all true—it’s a statement that can’t be evaluated for truth. Maybe if we knew what they say you don’t know, well, then you could tell if it was true or not. As it stands, though, it’s not possible to say one way or the other because you don’t have the information you need.

This lesson in hermeneutics brought to you be the letter B, the number 2, and Donald Rumsfeld.

I got you babe
I got you babe

True fact (at least according to Wikipedia, so you know it must be true): Sonny Bono wrote this song to capitalize on the popularity of the term ‘babe’. Were he alive today, i’m thinking he’d’ve written a much more aggressive version of the song, titled “I Pwned You Babe”.

They say our love won’t pay the rent

There are, however, some people who actually do pay their rent that way. Apparently they, whoever they might be, are simply underinformed and are passing their lack of knowledge on to the two of you.

Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that's so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

Oddly, even though they didn’t have a pot, they very clearly did have pot, judging by the way Cher’s playing with her hair in every single mid-60s video of them singing this song i’ve ever seen. Amazing the difference a single determiner makes!

I got you babe
I got you babe

Yes, we know—you already told us, remember?

I got flowers in the spring

Unlike everyone else, right?

I got you to wear my ring

’Nother deep memory: Back in the early 80s, when i was of an age that Mad magazine was the height of middle-class subversiveness, they ran an article with reasons we should love various celebrities. One of the entries was for Cher, and i remember two of them. One of them was “She’s really attractive, if you get turned on looking at a pencil”, but that’s not important right now. The one that’s important for the last line of the song was “We should all be grateful to her for keeping Sonny Bono off welfare all those years”. Apparently men actually do come out financially better in marriage than women!

And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around

I would just like to say that i would not find having a clown around comforting. That is all.

Don't let them say your hair’s too long
’Cause I don't care, with you I can’t go wrong

This is a nice sentiment and all, but it really is a whiplash-inducing non sequitur.

Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

Every time i hear this line i get an image of Sonny and Cher, hand in hand and dressed in beaded-fringe hippie garb, walking up K2 until they succumb to hypoxia. A bit morbid, i’ll admit, but you have to remember that this is the duo that did not only this song, but alsoBaby Don’t Go”, after all.

I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won’t let go
I got you to love me so

You know, i had some stuff to talk about here, but i just don’t have the energy. I mean, all this lovable-and-cute-beyond-imagining schmoopyness is threatening to throw me into sugar shock, and i’m not even diabetic.

I got you babe

Yes, i know—remember, i already said there was no need for you to mention it anymore.

I got you babe

Stop, please. Pretty please?

I got you babe

You’re just doing this to annoy me now, aren’t you?

I got you babe

Yes, yes you are.

I got you babe

That’s okay, i know of something even more annoying than this song! (Only just marginally, though.) So there!

1 comment:

  1. As I recall, the best part of that video of us singing is when we weren't entirely sure of the words to one of the verses, got a little mumbly, but both came right back in with an emphatic "Babe" at the beginning of the chorus!