|Making up for his sins at home: Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets (1973)|
"You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit, and you know it."- Martin Scorsese, Mean Streets
Martin Scorsese himself speaks those words, from off-screen, at the very beginning of Mean Streets, his grungy, heartfelt drama about small-time gangsters in a deeply Catholic Italian-American milieu. I quoted that speech last week during my stay at the behavioral health center while talking to a female patient (not the aforementioned Helen). She said she didn't feel like she could "fix" her problems from inside the hospital, and I told her about those opening words from the Scorsese film because I felt they were appropriate for the occasion. The entire opening sequence of Mean Streets is remarkable, and I want you to see it. Here, take a look:
|"Be My Baby" by the Ronettes|
"Be My Baby" is often used in romantic comedies, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has called it one of the happiest records ever made, but I feel that there is a crushing sadness at the core of this song. Let's examine the lyrics of the first verse:
The night we met, I knew I needed you so.You will note immediately that there is no indication that the man Ronnie is addressing even likes her, let alone loves her. She just met him and suddenly decided that she "needed" him. They're clearly not in a relationship. She wants "the chance" to grab onto him and never release him. She hasn't been given that opportunity yet. "So won't you say you love me?" is a particularly needy inquiry, and "I'll make you so proud of me" is like a child promising her parents that she'll be on her best behavior. "We'll make 'em turn their heads every place we go" indicates that the singer cares what other people think of her and may be using this relationship to get attention from passersby.
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 'em turn their heads every place we go.
The oft-repeated chorus is simplicity itself. It's just variations on "be my baby," "be my little baby," and "be my baby now," with a "please" or a "darling" thrown in now and again. This is as emotionally direct as singing or songwriting gets. The woman is asking, in no uncertain terms, for a man to love her. She's not playing coy or hard to get. She's just letting herself be vulnerable and open to rejection.
There really is only one other verse. The rest of the song consists of repetitions of the chorus. But the lyrics of that second verse are worth examining, too:
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 'til eternity.
|The King of Comedy|