In 1967 Sonny Bono did the unthinkable. He departed from Cher, the assumed star of the duo, and made his own album.
You really have to dig deep into the crate to find this one and even then it’s usually in the unorganized dollar bin. Sonny Bono’s Inner Views is not well known, and definitely not renowned, but it does deserve serious respect.
Do you ever wonder what happened to Sonny after the Sonny and Cher show was canceled? Sure he had his own show The Sonny Comedy Review, but that barely lasted especially against its rival, The Cher Show. What did Sonny do for all those years before he became Mayer of Palm Springs?
One must remember that Sonny was the foundation of Sonny and Cher, although it was by accident. Their first hit, “Baby Don’t Go,” was initially intended to be a solo Cher song, but she would not go on stage without Sonny. If you listen to this original recording you will see that Sonny just sings backup. Sonny and Cher is the love child of Cher’s solo career.
Originally, Sonny was a songwriter, producer/gofer, and instrumentalist for Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. It’s obvious that Sonny had an eye for talent and the penning of an occasional hit song. He met Cher in 1962 when she was 16 and he was 27. She lied and said she was 18 and thus their romantic relationship began.
By the time Inner Views came out, Sonny and Cher had already had huge commercial success with songs like “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Their career took a downward spiral in the later 1960s when pop was overturned by the British invasion.
Sonny had some time on his hands between performances at state fairs and nightclubs.
By the time Inner Views was released Sonny was 32. He was past his party heyday and was actually quite conservative in nature. He did not smoke pot or partake in any other kinds of drugs I believe that his age and maturity are a major factor in the content of this album while showing some serious songwriting skills. The album is early psychedelic in genre and only contains 5 songs due to the length of the pieces.
The album begins with “I Just Sit There.” This is Bono’s version of “The Times They Are A-Changing.” He talks about how “everything is turning around” and that there are “trippers, strippers, hips, or squares.” This wasn’t his scene, but it still expressed his aggravation with the current political tides and the way society was handling itself.
Bono then goes into my favorite song of the album, “I Told My Girl to Go Away.” A ballad explaining how he has to tell the girl he loves to go away. He states “How could I tell her as much as I loved her we’d never be?” and then “I don’t love you I had to say and then I died that day I lied.” Was he foretelling the future of Sonny and Cher’s matrimony?
On side B, Bono sings about “My Best Friend’s Girl is Out of Sight.” A fun tune to listen to with some witty lyrics.
The real masterpiece of side B and the entire album is “Pammie’s on a Bummer.” The song begins with at least a 5-minute intro of what sounds more like a band warming up then a composition of music. It’s the story of the lyrics that really hit me. This song tells the story of Pammie, a girl who was on a “bummer…and nobody knows where she’s at,” “had her body for sale,” and how “she started smoking pot.”
This song shows the downside of what would have been the “hippy” mindset. The idea of free love and social freedom are solid in this piece. Bono was mature enough to see through this trend, but he attempted to come to this audience in their language explaining these downfalls. He eventually ends the song with “maybe someday she will come back.”
I have found this short collection of songs to be some of the most interesting pieces I have listened too. They are written from a completely different angle than any of the other music of that time, yet it can easily fit in with this music. This was Bono’s warning piece to those living destructive lifestyles.
Although in the end, this album did not make an impact in music or society. It doesn’t even have it’s own Wikipedia article. Unfortunately, with this album, he was just the little man who couldn’t…