Friday, September 08, 2006

Close listening: I Got You Babe by Sonny and Cher

0.01 It's Groundhog Day! Seriously, will you ever be able to hear those opening bars without thinking of Bill Murray under tightly wrapped covers in that B&B?

0.06 Cher's droning monotone kicks in. "They say we're young and we don't know…" I don't believe Cher was ever young. Even when she was 9, she was a woman.

0.16 Sonny interjects: "Well I don't know if all that's true…" Sonny doesn't think Cher's young either.

0.26 A clarinet! How many mainstream pop songs do you know with one of those? Captain Beefheart doesn't count.

0.35 "They say our love won't pay the rent". They're right! It won't! Listen to their sound financial advice, you fools!

0.39 "Before it's earned our money's all been spent." I know it's the '60s, but that really is no way to live your life.

1.05 The strange and very hippy middle eight. "I got flowers in the Spring / I got you to wear my ring," coos Sonny foolishly.

1.18 Cher cuts in, incredibly out of tune. "And when I'm sad, you're a clown..." But she sings it without the comma, so it's like she's saying she's sad that her lover is a complete fucking clown.

1.21 She continues: "And when I get scared, you're always around." Which actually sounds terrifying. Like her boyfriend is some kind of omnipresent puppy.

1.42 "Then put your little hand in mine," suggests Sonny soppily. On the words 'hand' and 'mine', we realise just to what extent Sonny is impersonating Bob Dylan. It's shocking. Though Dylan would never write or sing such a drippy lyric.

2.01 There's this weird instrumental couple of bars, when it sounds like someone should be singing or playing a solo, but has forgotten. Possibly everyone's still shocked by Cher's out-of-tune singing, or Sonny's shameless Dylanising.

2.11 Sonny sings a quiet and subtle line - he clearly wants to do a building crescendo to the end (à la Oh Come All Ye Faithful). Cher doesn't realise that this will require the singers to start quietly. She lets rip with a ridiculously loud and harsh slug of a line.

2.17 Cher takes control, apparently stealing Sonny's bits. No more alternating lines – the woman wants all of them. Now it's like she's singing the words of love to herself. "I got you to talk to me," she continues. No reply from Sonny there.

2.28 She's still going. "I got you / I won't let go" seems to sum it up.

2.38 The song ends with the devoted pair singing that last grammatically dubious "I got you babe".

2.45 No it doesn't. It comes back. Something approaching the crescendo Sonny was clearly hoping for at 2.11 begins to take place, but it fades out even before it's come back. We're left loving it all and hating it all, but certainly wanting to hear it again. Frustrating and brilliant.

3 comments:

Kusems said...

Seriously? I Got You Babe? Of all the songs to analyze, I'm not sure I would have picked Sonny and Cher. But then I guess you did find quite a bit of good stuff to analyze. That song will never be the same again for me, which I suppose is a good thing, cuz I kinda hate that song.

Red said...

Great analysis. And it's so true about the Dylan-esque nasal voice on the "put your little hand in mine"... I knew it reminded me of someone, just couldn't quite put my finger on it. Thanks for enlightening me!

Fuff said...

I like your view on what I always thought was a rubbish song. Teehee.