Gloomy Tunes Extra: Sonny Bono, “Laugh At Me”

Merle Ginsberg reminds us that Sonny Bono—Phil Spector factotum, half of Sonny and Cher,  California congressman, and hero to short men everywhere— died today in 1998. So why not give a listen to his most heartfelt composition, “Laugh At Me”?

Written after being snubbed by a Hollywood restaurant that refused to seat him because of his “hippie attire,” he sings the song with a whiny chip on his shoulder. Sure his clothes are odd, but he’s the one going places. But he’s not nasty—he’ll pray for those who snubbed him. Released as a Sonny Bono solo track, this opening fusillade in the war for fuzzy jackets and Nehru collars reached the top ten in US charts, and was a #1 song in Canada.  You can hear the Spector influence in the thickly layered guitars and glockenspiel that gird the song.

We’ve also included Mott The Hoople’s cover of the song from their debut album, if you ever wondered what a Sonny Bono song would sound like sung by Bob Dylan. It’s followed by Sonny’s follow-up single, “The Revolution Kind,” where the future GOP Congressman walks back “Laugh At Me’s” pugilistic streak, declares his love for his country, and calms down the parents who were worried that Sonny and Cher might be too radical, letting them know his clothes might be wild, but his politics were not.

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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