Cher Revealed Why Sonny Wrote ‘I Got You Babe’ on Cardboard

Cher is known for her glamorous outfits, however, some of her early music has not-so-glamorous origins. Sonny Bono would write songs for him to perform with his wife on pieces of cardboard. Here’s why he had that unusual habit.

Sonny & Cher | Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Sonny Bono Writes Songs for Sonny & Cher

Firstly, a little background. In her book, The First Time, Cher says Sonny found an old beat-up piano that had 3 broken keys for $85.00. They purchased the piano and put it in their living room which had no furniture in it. Sonny would then stay up late into the night writing songs. Cher says, “When he put down the lyric for ‘Baby Don’t Go,’ the only writing material he could find in the middle of the night was a shirt cardboard from the laundry. After that he’d only write his lyrics on shirt cardboards – the white side or the brown side, it didn’t make any difference.”

Sonny Writes “I Got You Babe”

Cher reveals that she and Sonny were not in good financial standing so they moved into an old house with their managers and their girlfriends. They split the rent. They moved the piano into the garage and she could hear Sonny working on songs into the middle of the night while she fell asleep. She says, “When he thought he had something, he’d wake me up and say, ‘C’mere, Cher, I wanna play you something.’ Then he’d give me a shirt cardboard with the lyrics written on it. I’d look blearily at the shirt cardboard, but I could barely read it, because Son had the worst handwriting ever seen in the modern world.”

“I Got You Babe”

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Eventually, Cher would get up out of bed and go with Sonny over to the piano. She says, “Son couldn’t read or write music. He’d put the cardboard on the piano, and then he’d sing. I liked some of his songs from the start, like “Just you,” which is still one of my favorites. But the first time I heard “I Got You Babe,” I wasn’t impressed. Further, “When he’d sing something new, he’d still be working out the melody, and it could sound pretty terrible.” Cher went back to bed that night thinking “I Got You Babe” “seemed like just another song.”

Did Sonny’s songs resonate with the public?

Sonny & Cher had a total of 18 songs on the Billboard 100 including “All I Ever Need is You” and “The Beat Goes On.” “Baby Don’t Go” hit No. 8 on the chart in 1965 and remained on it for 12 weeks.  “I Got You Babe” was on Billboard the same year for 6 weeks but it hit the top spot at No. 1.

“Baby Don’t Go”

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“I Got You Babe” is considered a classic by many. In addition, Sonny & Cher famously sang “I Got You Babe” on the David Letterman’s show in 1987. Just think – Sonny made music history on the side of a laundry cardboard!