"I Got You Babe" is a song written by Sonny Bono. It was the first single taken from the debut studio album Look at Us, of the American pop music duo Sonny & Cher. In August 1965, their single spent three weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States where it sold more than 1 million copies and was certified Gold. It also reached number 1 in the United Kingdom and Canada.
In 1985, a cover version of "I Got You Babe" by British reggae/pop band UB40 featuring American singer Chrissie Hynde, peaked at number one in the UK Singles Chart and reached number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Sonny & Cher version
Background and composition
Sonny Bono, a songwriter and record producer for Phil Spector, wrote the lyrics to and composed the music of the song for himself and his then-wife, Cher, late at night in their basement. Session drummer Hal Blaine played drums for the song with other members of The Wrecking Crew supplying instrumental support. "I Got You Babe" became the duo's biggest single, their signature song, and a defining recording of the early hippie countercultural movement.
AllMusic critic William Ruhmann praised the song:
Recalling Dylan's bitter 1964 song "It Ain't Me Babe" (soon to be a folk-rock hit for the Turtles), Bono wrote his own opposite sentiment: "I Got You Babe." Where Dylan was lyrically complex, Bono was simple: His lyric began with the ominous youth-versus-grownups theme of "they" who set up barriers to romance, but soon gave way to a dialogue of teenage romantic platitudes. Where Dylan was musically simple, however, Bono, without fully rebuilding Spector's Wall of Sound, was more structurally ambitious, following the song's standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus form with an ascending coda that built to a climax, then started building again before the fadeout, all in only a little over three minutes. Set to waltz time, the tune retained a light feel despite the sometimes busy instrumentation, led by a prominent ocarina and the alternating vocals between the two singers. If neither were interesting singers, their plodding, matter-of-fact performances gave the song a common-man appeal.
African-American musician Harold Battiste provided the instrumental arrangement. Richard Niles quotes Battiste as saying the prominent figure in the song is played on an oboe rather than an ocarina.
In the United States, the song has sold more than 1 million copies in 1965 and was certified Gold by the RIAA. As of November 2011, Billboard reported the digital sales of "I Got You Babe" to be 372,000 in the US.
In 2011, the song was named as one of the greatest duets of all times by both Billboard and Rolling Stone magazine. It was also listed at #444 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. In early 2017 the song has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Sonny and Cher last performed the song together during an impromptu reunion on NBC's Late Night with David Letterman on November 13, 1987. Cher performed the song with R.E.M. on February 14, 2002, at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. It was her first performance of the song without Sonny. During Cher's 2014 Dressed to Kill Tour and 2017 Las Vegas residency Classic Cher using left behind vocals and a projection of videos of Sonny, Cher performed the song live with Sonny for the first time since 1987.
In popular culture
"I Got You Babe" has been frequently featured in film and television, including Sonny and Cher's own The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. The song made a bit of a comeback when it was used repeatedly as Phil Connors' wake-up music in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. On re-release, the single re-charted in the UK, reaching number 66. Other films have used the song including Good Times which stars Sonny & Cher, Buster, Look Who's Talking Too, Just Visiting, Me Without You, Riding in Cars with Boys, and Jack and Jill.
|Dutch Top 100
|German Singles Chart
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)
|US Billboard Hot 100
UB40 feat. Chrissie Hynde version
Twenty years later, in 1985, British band UB40 with American singer Chrissie Hynde recorded a cover version of "I Got You Babe" for the group's studio album Baggariddim. The song also appeared on the Pretenders' 1987 compilation album The Singles. This version of "I Got You Babe" charted at number 1 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1985 and reached number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
- I Got You Babe 3:08
- UB40 - Theme From Labour Of Love 3:05
- I Got You Babe 3:09
- UB40 - Red Red Wine 5:21
Cher with Beavis and Butt-Head version
In 1993, Cher recorded a cover version of "I Got You Babe" with the American animated characters Beavis and Butt-Head. The song was the first single from The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, a compilation comedy album released in 1993 by the Geffen Records, which is one of the fastest-selling comedy albums, has officially sold 1,610,000 units and was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA in the United States.AllMusic reviewed this song by calling it "most interesting" track on the album. The single reached the top 40 in the UK, Belgium and Sweden, as well as the top ten in the Netherlands.
A funny and psychedelic video was produced, which got a lot of MTV airplay. It featured Cher and Beavis and Butt-Head in a virtual animated world. In the video, the animated pair refer to her former husband Bono as a dork and a wuss, to which a live-action Cher agrees. It was placed at number 5 on the "50 Greatest Funny Moments in Music" list made by VH1 channel in 2004.
- Cher With Beavis And Butt-Head - I Got You Babe (4:00)
- Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe (3:12)
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)
The song has been frequently covered, including versions by:
- 1967 Manfred Mann on the album The Soul of Mann
- 1968 Etta James on the album Tell Mama
- 1968 Tiny Tim on the album God Bless Tiny Tim
- 1960s or 1970s, French singer and composer Claude François sung the French cover Je t'aime trop toi (Lit. "I love you too much, oh you").
- 1973 David Bowie with Marianne Faithfull on The Midnight Special, released on the bootleg Dollars In Drag: The 1980 Floor Show
- 1975 The Dictators on their album The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!
- 1982 The Ramones' Joey Ramone and Holly and the Italians' Holly Beth Vincent performed the duet.
- 1989 Madonna and Sandra Bernhard sang the song on May 24, 1989 during the 'Don't Bungle The Jungle' benefit concert to raise money and awareness for preserving the world's rain forests.
- 1991 The Cynics' cover from their tribute to Bono, Bonograph, was a Get Hip single, backed with "Bang Bang"; a music video includes photos of Sonny and Cher.
- 1993 Angel'in Heavy Syrup on the album Angel'in Heavy Syrup II.
- 1998 Merril Bainbridge feat. Shaggy for the soundtrack album to the Johnathon Schaech film Welcome to Woop Woop and the Bainbridge album Between the Days
- 2004 Avid Merrion, along with Patsy Kensit and Davina McCall, released a Christmas single which reached number 5 in the UK charts.
- 2006 Bradley Joseph, an instrumental arrangement on the album Piano Love Songs.
- 2013 Lucky Dube, reggae version, released on his posthumous album "Colours of Africa".
- 2015, folk rock duo Blackmore's Night covered the song on their album All Our Yesterdays.
Movies and television
- In a fifth season episode of the CBS sitcom Good Times, Michael Evans (Ralph Carter) and Penny Gordon (Janet Jackson) perform the song, mimicking a performance from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.
- In The Golden Girls fifth-season episode "An Illegitimate Concern", Sophia (Estelle Getty) and Dorothy (Bea Arthur) dress up as Sonny and Cher, respectively, to rehearse for a mother-daughter talent show, singing "I Got You Babe" while Rose (Betty White) accompanies them on the piano. The episode aired February 12, 1990. Bea Arthur often said later in interviews that this was her favorite moment from the series run.
- In a Full House episode, Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) has Michelle (one or both of the Olsen Twins) sing "I Got You Babe" as they strum on their respective guitars.
- In the Sabrina The Teenage Witch episode "What's News", Sabrina and cat Salem Saberhagen dress as Sonny and Cher to sing "I Got You Babe" in an effort to get her boss and his wife to stop fighting.
- In Harold Ramis's film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, it is this song to which the main character awakes each repetitive morning on the clock radio.
- Then-married Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson close The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour special, already very much in the style of Sonny and Cher, singing the duet.
- The Rolling Stones donned costumes and lip synched to the original version of the song in a 1965 special taped for Ready Steady Go! .
- New York City-based television show Duets with Deni (also carried on the internet) which regularly features local songwriters and musicians, Deni Bonet and Robyn Hitchcock sing the song from Deni's apartment.
- In the Mad Men season 4 finale, set in October 1965, the original recording played over the final scene of Don Draper lying awake in bed in his Greenwich Village apartment with his new fiancee Megan asleep at his side and continued to play during the closing credits.
- In series 2, episode 4, of American Dad!, Roger wakes up via his alarm clock to "I Got You Babe". He proceeds to get drunk and destroy his television.
- Appears in the film Me Without You (2001).
- In the Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Hot Number Affair", the song plays under the scene where Sonny and Cher appear on screen together for the first time.
- In the episode "Chicago Hope" of Home Improvement, Tim and Jill sing "I Got You Babe" on a karaoke machine in Chicago.
- In the Misfits episode seven of season three, Seth's alarm clock plays "I Got You Babe".
- In the episode of House "We Need the Eggs," Park and her friend are singing the song together at the end.
- In the episode of Step by Step, "Locket Man," Rich sings "I Got You Babe" to reclaim Dana's affections in a restaurant. As the credits roll, the two are shown dressed as Sonny and Cher singing the duet.
- In the 2011 movie Jack & Jill, a shortened version plays over the opening credits.
- In the American remake of Les Visiteurs, Just Visiting; Andre and Angelique drive towards Las Vegas while the song ends and cuts to black, ending the movie.
- In the episode of The Big Bang Theory, "The Love Car Displacement," Bernadette and Howard begin to sing "I Got You Babe" as a duet.
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