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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Song "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes

The opening credits of Dirty Dancing are accompanied by the Ronettes singing the song "Be My Baby".

The credits appear in cursive, shocking-pink handwriting. Although the handwriting's color is feminine, its angularity is masculine. The handwriting is a combination of feminine and masculine.

Behind the handwriting, young couples are dancing in an unfocused, jerky black-and-white. The dancers look ordinary -- not beautiful. In particular, the women have faces that are rather plain. Toward the very end of the credits, the audience sees a beautiful pair of breasts, but the woman's face is hardly seen.

Several of the dance movements show the women being bent backwards so far that their torsos are horizontal -- similar to limbo dancing.


A woman sings the song's lyrics:
The night we met, I knew I needed you so,
And if I had the chance, I'd never let you go.

So, won't you say you love me?
I'll make you so proud of me.
We'll make them turn their heads
Every place we go

So, won't you, please, be my baby?
Be my little baby, my one and only baby.
Say you'll be my darling.
Be my, be my baby.

I'll make you happy, baby,
Just wait and see.
For every kiss you give me,
I'll give you three.

Oh, since the day I saw you,
I have been waiting for you.
You know I will adore you
Until eternity.
The lyrics do not use gender words -- he, him, she, her and so forth -- but the sentiments are feminine. The singer seems to have baby fever. The singer wants to hug, kiss and adore a baby forever and ever.

The website Science Daily has published an article titled Research explores the scientific basis for baby fever, which includes the following excerpts:
.... Not only does the phenomena called baby fever exist, it is found in both men and women, according to researchers from Kansas State University. Gary Brase, associate professor of psychology, and his wife, Sandra Brase, a project coordinator with the university's College of Education, have spent nearly 10 years researching baby fever: the physical and emotional desire to have a baby. ...

The researchers started by applying three different theoretical viewpoints about why baby fever might exist and where it came from:

1) The sociocultural view: People want to have a baby because they are taught gender roles. Women think they should have children because society says that is what they are supposed to do.

2) The byproduct view: Humans experience nurturance. When they see a cute baby they want to take care of it, and that makes them want to have a baby of their own. Baby fever is a by-product -- it is nurturance misplaced.

3) The adaptationist view: Baby fever is an emotional signal -- like a suggestion sent from one part of the mind to the other parts -- that this this could be a good time to have a child. The researchers then performed studies to understand people's desires, particularly the desire to have a baby.

... Women more frequently desired having a child than having sex. Men were the opposite and more frequently desired sex than having a child.

"We found this kind of ironic because sex and having a baby are causally related," Gary Brase said. ....

"The idea that gender role or misplaced nurturance are the major driving forces didn't get a lot of support from our study," Gary Brase said. "It is something much more fundamental than that."

Rather, the researchers found three factors that consistently predicted how much a person wanted to have a baby.

1) The first factor was positive exposure -- such as holding and cuddling babies, looking after babies and looking at baby clothes and toys -- that made people want to have a baby.

2) The second factor included negative exposure -- such as babies crying, children having tantrums and diapers, spit-up or other 'disgusting' aspects of babies -- that made people not want to have a baby.

3( The third factor included trade-offs that come with having children -- education, career, money and social life.

"We had people who were high on the positive aspects and they see all the good things about babies and want a baby," Gary Brase said. "We also had people who were high on the negative aspects and absolutely do not want to have babies. Then we had people who were high on both positive and negative aspects and were very conflicted about children.

"Having children is kind of the reason we exist -- to reproduce and pass our genes on to the next generation," he said. "But economically, having children is expensive and you don't get any decent financial return on this investment. And yet, here we are, actual people kind of stuck in the middle."

The researchers plan follow-up studies that focus on the role of hormones and why people might experience high and low levels of baby fever.

At the very beginning of the movie, the idea of babies is planted into the audience's minds. The credits end with the image of a beautiful pair of breasts. Babies and breasts go together.

None of the dancers -- neither the females nor the males -- display beautiful faces. The faces that are visible are plain. This will not be a movie about some beautiful woman. Rather it will be a movie about a plain woman.

The dancing is close and jerky, like sexual intercourse. The faces express the sexual plateau before orgasm. Meanwhile, the singer repeats the word baby, baby, baby, baby, baby.

This introduction of the movie expresses female instinct, emotion, mentality, sensibility, desire and drive.

Subconsciously, the audience's females already are looking forward to a movie about conception, pregnancy, childbirth and -- ultimately -- huggable, kissable, adorable babies.

The story will turn, however, around an abortion.


The Wikipedia article about Girl Groups includes the following passages:
A girl group is a music act featuring several female singers who generally harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States to denote the wave of American female pop music singing groups, many of whom were influenced by doo-wop, and which flourished in the late 1950s and early 1960s between the decline of early rock and roll and start of the British Invasion. ...

The late 1950s saw the emergence of all-female singing groups as a major force, with 750 distinct girl groups releasing songs that reached US and UK music charts from 1960 to 1966. The Supremes alone held 12 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 during the height of the wave and throughout most of the British Invasion rivaled the Beatles in popularity. ...

As the rock era began, close harmony acts like the Chordettes, the Fontane Sisters, the McGuire Sisters and the DeCastro Sisters remained popular ... With "Mr. Lee", the Bobbettes lasted for 5 1/2 months on the charts in 1957, building momentum and gaining further acceptance of all-female, all-black vocal groups.

However, it was the Chantels' 1958 song "Maybe" that became "arguably, the first true glimmering of the girl group sound." ... The success of the Chantels and others was followed by an enormous rise in girl groups with varying skills and experience, with the music industry's typical racially segregated genre labels of rhythm-and-blues and pop slowly breaking apart.
The following video shows White teenagers dancing to the Chantels' song "Maybe" in 1958.

The group often considered to have achieved the first sustained success in girl group genre is the Shirelles, who first reached the Top 40 with "Tonight's the Night", and in 1961 became the first girl group to reach number one on the Hot 100 with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", written by songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King at 1650 Broadway.[21] The Shirelles solidified their success with five more top 10 hits, most particularly 1962's number one hit "Soldier Boy", over the next two and a half years.

The following video shows the Shirelles singing "Mama Said" on a television show in 1963.

Other songwriters and producers in the US and UK quickly recognized the potential of this new approach and recruited existing acts (or, in some cases, created new ones) to record their songs in a girl-group style.

Phil Spector recruited the Crystals, the Blossoms, and the Ronettes .... Phil Spector made a huge impact on the ubiquity of the girl group, as well as bringing fame and notoriety to new heights for many girl groups. Phil Spector's so-called Wall of Sound, which used layers of instruments to create a more potent sound allowed girl groups to sing powerfully and in different styles than earlier generations. ....

Over 750 girl groups were able to chart a song between 1960 and 1966 in the US and UK ....

Beat Music's global influence eventually pushed out girl groups as a genre ... The only girl group with any significant chart presence from the beginning of the British Invasion through 1970 was the Supremes.

The Wikipedia article about the Ronettes includes the following passages.
The Ronettes were an American girl group from New York City. One of the most popular groups from the 1960s, they placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. The trio from Spanish Harlem, New York, consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (later known as Ronnie Spector), her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Among the Ronettes' most famous songs are "Be My Baby", "Baby, I Love You", "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up", and "Walking in the Rain", all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. ....

The girls had sung together since they were teenagers, when they were known as "The Darling Sisters". Signed first by Colpix Records in 1961, they moved to Phil Spector's Philles Records in March 1963, and changed their name to "The Ronettes". .... The Ronettes were the only girl group to tour with the Beatles. ...

In early 1963, fed up with Colpix Records and the group's lack of success, Estelle placed a phone call to producer Phil Spector, telling him of the Ronettes, and how they would like to audition for him. .... At the audition, Spector sat at a piano while the group began singing "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", when he suddenly jumped up from his seat and shouted: "That's it! That's it! That's the voice I've been looking for!"

... By March 1963, the group was officially signed to Spector's Philles Records.

The first song the Ronettes rehearsed and recorded with Phil Spector was a song by Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich called "Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love". They were brought out to California to make the record, but, once it was complete, Spector refused to release it. They recorded more songs for Spector, including covers of "The Twist", "The Wah Watusi" "Mashed Potato Time" and "Hot Pastrami". ...

After being denied a release of their first recording, ... the Ronettes went to work on the Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich song "Be My Baby". The Ronettes recorded "Be My Baby" in July 1963, and it was released in August. By the fall of that year it had become a top 10 hit, peaking at number two on the Billboard Top 100. ...

"Be My Baby" turned out to be a huge record for the Ronettes. Radio stations constantly played the song throughout fall of 1963, and the Ronettes were invited to tour the country with Dick Clark on his "Caravan of Stars" tour. ....
The following video shows the Ronettes singing "Be My Baby" on television in 1963.

The following video shows scenes from the recording of the song in 1963.

The song was released in August 1963, the same month when the Houseman family began their vacation at the Kellerman Resort Hotel.


The Ronettes toured with the Beatles on a 14-city concert tour during August 1966.
A poster for the performance of
the Beatles and Ronettes in August 1966
One song that both groups have performed is "Shout".


An article about the Ronettes, written by Jack Doyle and published in Pop History Dig, describes the group's unique appearance.
The girls soon developed their own style and their own distinctive look. To begin with, all three were of mixed-race decent; all young beauties. Ronnie and Estelle were the children of a white father and a mother of African-American and Cherokee descent. Nedra Talley was black, Indian and Puerto Rican.

They also developed their own dress style, part for their dance and performing lounge act, and part personal statement. They each had “big hair” as it was called — tall, black beehive hairdos — and they used a Cleopatra-style dark eye makeup.

The beehives and the eye makeup of the Ronnettes
Their dresses and skirts were tight with slits up the sides, a near Oriental look.

They projected, in part, a “bad girl” look, fashioned from the girls they saw on the street, though they themselves were kept off the street.

A scholarly study titled Selling an Image: Girl Groups of the 1960s, written by Cynthia Cyrus, has been published by Cambridge University Press. The article's Introduction includes the following passages:
The girl group repertory of the 1960s provides tales of teen desire from a female perspective in an aurally inviting sing-along format. ... The songs are typically built around a mixture of narrative and of fantasy in which the female speaker posits some future desired end; they are further complicated by a dialogue between a 'contradictory chorus' and the feminine self of the lead singer.

.... None of these songs is simply 'for' romance: the songs are always both for and against it. ... It gave voice to all the warring selves inside us ... Contradictory messages about female sexuality and rebelliousness were ... poignantly and authentically expressed. ....

The girls of the songs giggle, gossip and argue, offer multiple opinions, and most of all share with one another, sometimes through competition, sometimes through advice-giving, sometimes through empathy. ...

Girl-group repertory takes its place alongside other women's genres such as soap operas and weepies as one of the 'feminine forms' of representation, one that is historically situated in the changing sexual and political mores of the early 1960s. .... Like the soaps ... their characteristic narrative patterns, their foregrounding of "female" skills in dealing with personal and domestic crises ....

In the study which follows, I attempt to tease out some of the strands which allow for such negotiations of feminine identity. I am particularly interested in the intersection of the visual image and the textual-musical content of the girl group repertory. ...

The focus of the girl-group album cover is typically not on the known and identifiable performer but rather on the group as a whole. In this way, the album covers intersect with a large pool of group-oriented images found on sheet music, in concert advertisements, and on the publicity photos which circulated so widely. It is through an evaluation of all of these forms of visual stimuli that we can obtain a sense of what the projected 'girl group image' might be like. ....

An overwhelming majority of these visual images depict the members of an ensemble as equal and visually interchangeable, for the members of a group dressed in the same clothes and accessories, sported the same hair style and stood in the same pose.

This visual uniformity supported the chatty teenage dialogue which typified the girl group lyrics. Perhaps more importantly, it also invited the audience member to identify herself with the members of the group. Such a message of belonging was an important part of a marketing strategy aimed at the increasingly multiracial and self-consciously female teen market of the period. ....

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