Type
Essay
Pages
8 pages
Word Count
2332 words
School
Drake University
Course Code
World Music

Bang Bang

November 30, 2020
Released in 1966, the song Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) was one of Cher’s first
singles and became her first solo Top Ten hit.1 Bang Bang was written by Cher’s then-husband
Sonny Bono.
1
The song has been covered many times and its covers have been featured in
numerous movies and commercials.1 Four of the most notable covers are by Nancy Sinatra, Lady
Gaga, Monophonics, and Nico Vega. Sinatra’s cover is a stripped down version that consists of a
single vocal with an electric guitar, Lady Gaga’s features a jazz combo, Monophonics created a
funk/soul version, and Nico Vega rewrote it as an alternative rock piece. The original and each
cover encompass many different styles of music, and each version drastically changes the
emotion and mood of the piece while staying true to the storyline.
The accompaniment in the original song consists of strings, classical guitar, percussion
(drums, tambourine). Cher provides a single vocal over the accompaniment (there are no
harmonies or backing vocals). Bang Bang is written in strophic form. The song is in a minor key,
in simple duple time and is homophonic.
The song (told from the perspective of a woman) tells the story of a couple who met as
children and eventually began a relationship, presumably as teenagers or adults. When they were
younger, they played “Cowboys and Indians” together, hence the lyrics I was five and he was
six, we rode on horses made of sticks”
2
, and “Bang bang, he shot me down”2. As they grew
older, they started a relationship and reminisced, “He would always laugh and say ‘Remember
when we used to play?’”2. Some time later, they got married—“Music played and people sang,
1
Bruce Eder, Cher: Biography & History, https://www.allmusic.com/artist/cher-mn0000107090/biography
(accessed April 07, 2018).
2
Cher, "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," by Sonny Bono, in The Sonny Side of Cher, Cher, Sonny
Bono, 1966, June 6, 2016, accessed April 7, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2mBCVejzSM.
just for me the church bells rang”2—but later, the man broke up with her, or figuratively “shot
[her] down”2.
At its core, the song is traditional American pop, but the accompaniment is Spanish and
Western inspired. Cher’s vocals are usually in a traditional American pop style, but during the
bridge they match the Latin American style of the accompaniment. The song is very percussion