BANG, BANG, My Baby Shot Me Down
Of Childhood Games and Relationships
By N. Mark Castro
What comes to mind when you hear this song is the movie Kill Bill — from which it gained a resurgence of popularity — and Nancy Sinatra’s version.
Nancy’s version did make it to the top of the charts when she did a cover of the song on the same year that it came out. She was Frank’s daughter and could carry a tune.
What many of you may not know is that it was written by the late Sonny Bono for his then talented child-bride Cher back in 1966. To those of you who are unfamiliar with the ancient mystery of history, Sonny Bono was a multi-talented recording artist (the other half of the historical duo Sonny & Cher), record producer, actor, and until his untimely demise, a popular politician.
I can understand why you may not be familiar with Cher if you’ve been living with Sponge Bob in a pineapple under the sea, but don’t go around telling people that … some people would find it sacrilegious and blasphemous if you admit to your ignorance of this woman.
Consider as one of the most enduring artists in the world, Cher has won just about every musical award possible, including the Oscar Award for films, while hitting the charts for almost every decade that she’s performed, constantly reinventing herself more times than Madonna ever did. But what truly catapulted her to iconic status is that she’s somehow managed to be seared in the minds of every gay person in the planet that she’s a role model: for her endurance, talent, guts, and freedom in expressing herself.
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG
In this song, Cher performs someone who recalls playing childhood games with a boy when he would shoot her with his toy gun. They grow up together and eventually got married, but then he leaves her. She has again been shot down, but this time it’s for real and she is devastated. The haunting lyrics captured both the innocence and the loss of it through the mist of time.
Nancy’s slow-beat version and melancholic singing did give a striking version, especially with the tremolo effect of the guitar (played by the legendary Billy Strange.
But that the song has been covered by so many artists all over the world, spanning decades, is a testament to the songwriting skills of Sonny Bono and the melodic rendition of Cher. Aside from Nancy, other notable artists that imprinted their version of it were, of course, Nancy’s father Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Stevie Wonder, rapper Li’l Wayne, to name a few. It has taken so much cover that the song evolved from one version to the next and you can hardly trace whose version is being sampled or covered anymore. Nancy Sinatra’s version was used in the 2003 Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill and was the theme for the BBC‘s coverage of the 2005 Wimbledon tennis championships.
There are only few songs on earth that have shown us such enduring quality … and it’s highly doubtful Justin Bieber’s Baby Baby Oooh would be one of those.
Posted on September 30, 2012, in General, Music and tagged bang bang my baby shot me down, billy strange, cher, frank sinatra, kill bill, nancy sinatra, petula clarke, stevie wonder. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.