Home Entertainment Why ‘Be My Baby’ Is Still the Ultimate Girl-Group Classic

Why ‘Be My Baby’ Is Still the Ultimate Girl-Group Classic

Why ‘Be My Baby’ Is Still the Ultimate Girl-Group Classic


“Be My Baby” is as universal as a pop song can be. It’s the song that made Ronnie Spector a timeless rock & roll legend, a teenage girl from Spanish Harlem who packed a lifetime of raw power into three minutes. Ever she belted out “Be My Baby” in 1963, it’s been the classic that sums up the whole Sixties girl-group era, with Phil Spector’s lavish Wall of Sound production. But it’s never left the airwaves. On Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs, “Be My Baby” comes in at #22.

Ronnie formed the Ronettes with her older sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra. “Be My Baby” was their first and biggest single, written by Phil Spector with the legendary hitmaking team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, the duo behind so many classics. The producer devised it to sound impossibly huge and melodramatic — strings, handclaps, castanets — while Hal Blaine kicked it off with that thunder-clap drum intro. But everything comes down to the power of Ronnie’s voice. She’s a force of nature — teenage yearning amped up to an epic scale.

On this week’s episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs, hosts Brittany Spanos and Rob Sheffield discuss the story of “Be My Baby,” breaking down the song’s massive impact on pop history. It’s been the foundation for artists from Brian Wilson to Bruce Springsteen to Lana Del Rey. You hear it everywhere, from Scorsese movies to goth clubs to hair metal, from the Ramones to Beyoncé. As Madonna said back when she was first hitting the pop scene in the Eighties, “I like to look the way Ronnie Spector sounded: sexy, hungry, totally trashy.” Ronnie had that charisma right up to the end.

On this week’s episode, Rob and Brittany are joined by a true legend: Jeff Barry, who co-wrote “Be My Baby.” The Barry/Greenwich team cranked out a host of Sixties girl-group smashes for stars like the Crystals (“Then He Kissed Me”), the Dixie Cups (“Chapel of Love”), the Chiffons (“I Have a Boyfriend”), and the Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack”). Barry discusses the making of “Be My Baby,” the early Brill Building songwriting days, and his long career from pop to soul to country.

In 2004, Rolling Stone launched its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Tabulated from a massive vote that had artists, industry figures, and critics weighing in, the list has been a source of conversation, inspiration, and controversy for two decades. It’s one of the most popular, influential, and argued-over features the magazine has ever done.


So we set out to make it even bigger, better, and fresher. In 2021, we completely overhauled our 500 Songs list, with a whole new batch of voters from all over the music map. Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs takes a closer look at the entries on our list. Made in partnership with iHeart, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs finds Brittany and Rob discussing a new song each week, delving into its history and impact with the help of a special guest — including fellow RS colleagues, producers, and the artists themselves. It’s our celebration of the greatest songs ever made — and a breakdown of what makes them so great.

Check out the latest episode above, on iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts, and look for new episodes every Wednesday.


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