Sonny & Cher

I Got You Babe

Composed by Sonny Bono

Song Review by

In the summer of 1965, when "I Got You Babe" became a number one hit, its author, Sonny Bono, was 30 years old and had been kicking around the music business in various capacities for eight years, his biggest previous success being the co-writing of "Needles and Pins," a Top 20 hit for the Searchers in 1964. A protégé of Phil Spector, Bono knew a lot about elaborate record production, but in his search for a hit that would make him and his 19-year-old wife, Cher, a success, he had been listening to the suddenly popular music of Bob Dylan, especially as done in Dylan's new folk-rock style introduced in January on his Bringing It All Back Home album, and the work of the Byrds, who scored a number one hit with "Mr. Tambourine Man," a Dylan song from that LP. 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 of the two singers. If neither Bono nor Cher were interesting singers, their plodding, matter-of-fact performances gave the song a common-man appeal. "I Got You Babe" was released as the duo's second single under their own name and shot to the top of the charts, selling over a million copies in the U.S. (and reportedly millions more overseas) and becoming the biggest hit they scored together. It was their signature song: They sang it in their 1967 movie Good Times and as the theme of their early '70s television series. The song's camp appeal made it something of a guilty pleasure among rock bands over the years, but UB40's 1985 cover version, which found singer Ali Campbell dueting with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, sounded perfectly sincere, and the song worked well set to a reggae beat; the record topped the charts in the U.K. and made the American Top 40.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Look at Us 1965 Sundazed 3:13
No Image 1966 Rhino 3:09
Good Times [Original Soundtrack] 1967 Tartare 4:48
All I Ever Need Is You 1972 Universal Special Products 3:05
Greatest Hits [1974] 1974 MCA 4:35
Classic Rock: 1965 1987
Various Artists
3:12
American Rock 'N' Roll Classics, Vol. 2 1988
Various Artists
Roulette Records
Buster [Original Soundtrack] 1988
Original Soundtrack
Atlantic / JDC Records 3:09
No Image 1989 Pair 0:00
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1965 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 3:13
AM Gold: 1965 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:12
Summers of Love [Disc 2] 1991
Various Artists
Original Analog 3:09
Cher's Greatest Hits: 1965-1992 1993 Geffen 3:11
The Beat Goes On: The Best of Sonny & Cher 1993 Rhino / Atco 3:11
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1962-1966 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 3:13
Groundhog Day 1993 CBS Records 3:11
I Got You Babe [Rhino Collection] 1993 Rhino
Best Sixties Album in the World Ever 1995
Various Artists
3:10
'60s Rock Classics 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 3:12
Don't Worry, Be Happy 1996
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:06
All I Ever Need: The Kapp/MCA Anthology 1996 MCA 3:53
Only Rock 'N Roll 1965-1969: 20 Pop Hits 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 3:12
18 Free & Easy Hits from the '60s 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 3:09
It Takes Two [Columbia] 1996
Various Artists
Columbia / Global / Sony TV
'60s Rock Hits [Rhino] 1997
Various Artists
Rhino Flashback 3:14
Who's Your Fave Rave: Teen Idols 1959-1981 1997
Various Artists
Rhino
Whole Lotta Rock: 1964-1965 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 3:06
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1960-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 3:10
The Ultimate Rock Collection Gold and Platinum, Vol. 1: 1964-1970 1997
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:12
Frat Rock! 3 Pac 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 0:00
Heart Beats [3 Pack] 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 0:00
Cher with Sonny 1998 Entertainers 3:11
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Collection 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:15
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Love and Inspiration 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:15
If I Could Turn Back Time: Greatest Hits [Geffen] 1999 Geffen / Interscope / Universal 3:10
Oldies Radio: K-Earth 101FM Greatest Hits 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:13
Best of the Best: 60's Pop & Rock, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Primary Colors 3:11
Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Christmas Gift to You 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:15
The Beat Goes On 2000 Rhino Atlantic
Casey Kasem: America's Top 10 Through the Years 2000
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 3:12
The Way of Love: The Cher Collection 2000 MCA 3:26
The Singles+ 2000 KMG Records (Germany)(Metal / Christ) 3:08
Casey Kasem: America's Top 10 Through Years - The 60's 2001
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 3:12
Dick Clark's #1's: 50's to 70's "When AM Radio Was King" 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:12
Riding in Cars with Boys 2001
Original Soundtrack
Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 3:10
Essential Collection 2001 Hip-O 3:27
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Realm Records 3:09
Me Without You [Original Soundtrack] 2002
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution / Epic / Sony / Legacy 3:10
The Essentials 2002 Rhino / Warner Music 3:12
Pure 60's: The #1 Hits 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:11
The Very Best of 60's Gold 2003
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:11
The Very Best of Cher [Warner Bros #1] 2003 Warner Bros. / Rhino 3:11
Chartbusters USA, Vol. 3 2003
Various Artists
Ace 3:08
All the 60's 2003
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:12
Billboard #1 Hits of the '60s 2003
Various Artists
Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 3:12
Time 100: Music of Our Lives 1960-1980 2004
Various Artists
WEA International 3:12
Rock & Roll: The First 50 Years - The Mid-'60s 2004
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage / Varese 3:15
Legends: Pluggin' In 2004
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:12
Gold 2005 Geffen 3:09
The '60s Rock Experience 2005
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 3:08
Love Songs: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:06
Ultimate Summer Hits: Summer Fun 2006
Various Artists
Collectables 3:08
The Greatest Groovy 60's Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:11
Heartbeat Summer 2007
Various Artists
Virgin 3:08
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:12
Forever Sonny and Cher 2007 Madacy 3:18
100 Hits: 60s 2007
Various Artists
DMG / DMG TV 3:12
#1 Classic Hits of the 60s 1960-1964 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 3:08
100 Essential Tracks: No. 1 Hits 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:09
The Best Sixties Album in the World...Ever! [2009] 2009
Various Artists
EMI 3:06
Atlantic Records: The Time Capsule 2009
Various Artists
Atlantic 3:12
Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs: From Me To You 2009
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 3:08
100 Hits: Sixties Pop 2010
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:11
100 Hits: Mum 2010
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:10
Mad Men: A Musical Companion (1960-1965) 2011
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:10
3/60: Love 2011
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:11
Flashback with Sonny & Cher 2011 Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 3:13
Sonny & Cher: The Collection 2012 Music Club Deluxe 3:12
'60s Music Revolution 2012
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:12
The Ramones: Heard Them Here First 2012
Various Artists
Ace 3:08
'60s: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 3:09
No Image
Various Artists
Telerad
American Classics [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino
Classic '60s Pop
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:22
Easy Listening Classics/Time Life's Movie Classics
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:10
First Love [Platinum Legends]
Various Artists
Platinum Legends 3:09
I Got You Babe/It's Gonna Rain [Digital 45] Rhino
Latest & Greatest: Duets
Various Artists
USM Media 3:05
Mum: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino 3:12
Rhino Hi-Five: Valentine's Day Songs 1
Various Artists
Rhino
Romancing the '60s: My Special Angel
Various Artists
StarVista 3:11
Sixties [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino 3:15
No Image Atco
The Best Ever Road Trip
Various Artists
Rhino
The California Sound of the 60's
Various Artists
Scana 3:06
The Ultimate Collection: Number 1s
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:10
Time Life Presents the 60s
Various Artists
Time Life 3:11
Top Hits/60's Only Number 1's
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:16
No Image
Various Artists
Razor & Tie