Let’s Take A Moment Day 285

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Oscar Levant said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity”. In music history one person who crossed that line was Phil Spector, who turns 80 years old today. Born December 26, 1940 in the Bronx, NY, he was highly regarded as the industry’s first auteur and the inventor of one of the defining sounds of the 1960’s. But there is no denying his story has a sad tragic ending. In 2009 he was convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, which carried a 19 year sentence that will most likely end his life in jail (he will not be eligible for parole until 2024). In 2014 he lost his voice due to an illness that paralyzed his vocal chords and he is also reportedly suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

During Spector’s two trials (the first one ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury) his lawyers argued that his mental decline began in 1974 after he was badly injured in a car crash where he was thrown through the windshield. The serious head injuries he suffered required several hours of surgery with over 700 stitches to his face and the back of his head. He lost his father to suicide when Spector was only nine plus there were reports he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in his life. However, there was no mention of any type of drug regimen for that illness. None of this justifies the actions he allegedly took which led to Clarkson’s death, but I think anyone who draws a firearm to get someone’s attention as he was reported to have done on more than one occasion is not someone who is of sound mind. For more insight into Spector’s world throughout the trials, I recommend the 2013 HBO movie about him starring Al Pacino. He is riveting in the title role as Spector.

But there is also no denying how powerful his reach was in music. In 1960 he became the youngest person (to that date) to own a record label when he co-founded Philles Records with Lester Sill. Spector was primarily known as a record producer but he was also a musician and songwriter of hits like “To Know Him Is To Love Him”, “Walking In The Rain”, “Chapel Of Love”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Then He Kissed Me”, amongst others. He created the “Wall Of Sound” behind such groups as The Teddy Bears, The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers. And it was Spector who took the songs from the Let It Be sessions and gave us the album of the same name. Whether you appreciated his work on that record or not, without him who knows how long it would have taken for that music to be released. And that was the album that made me fall head over heels in love with The Fab Four, so I cannot help but be grateful to Spector in that respect.

He also worked a lot with John Lennon (as co-producer of several of his solo albums including 1971’s Imagine) & George Harrison (as co-producer of All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh, which won Spector his only Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1972). He also worked with The Ramones and had fans throughout the industry including Bruce Springsteen, who has often said he worked on his Born To Run album as if he were trying to recreate Spector’s signature sound. He is amongst only a handful of producers to have a number one record in three consecutive decades (1950s, 1960s and 1970s). That is an incredible feat.

Spector’s touch & influence on my musical choices is so clear that without putting any conscience effort into it, I have already shared six songs connected to him. One was produced by him (“Let It Be” Day 26), another was co-produced by him (George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, Day 252) & four were written/co-written by Spector: Darlene Love’s “River Deep, Mountain High” (Day 77) & “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Day 278), The Ronettes “Be My Baby (Day 147) and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” (Day 187).

I chose today’s track not only because Spector co-produced it but because it is from my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. And I also love the message of this song that whatever is happening, whatever we are going through, it is only temporary. This, too, shall pass.

Now the darkness only stays the nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
It’s not always gonna be this gray
“.

George Phil 1964

George and Phil 1971

Top: George Harrison (L) and Phil Spector (R) circa 1964. Bottom: Harrison (L) and Spector (R) in the studio in 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Harrison: “All Things Must Pass” (1970, written by George Harrison).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 147

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today Veronica “Ronnie” Spector turns 77 years young.  But to anyone who remembers her vocals with her group, The Ronettes, or on Eddie Money’s 1986 song “Take Me Home Tonight”, she will always be the epitome of a girl group singer.  As far as that genre goes, it is hard to get much better than The Ronettes.  Their sound, their harmonies, their looks including those beehives hairdos were just the definition of cool (now you know who Amy Winehouse patterned her look after).  I think if you were a girl coming of age in the 1960’s and you liked music, that group was where it was at.  Hits like “Baby, I Love You”, “Walking In The Rain”, “I Can Hear music” and today’s song showcase only a percentage of their incredible vocal abilities.

Think about this:  The Rolling Stones were The Ronettes opening act on their 1964 U.K. tour and the women were the only girl group who toured with The Beatles in 1966.  How incredible is that?!?  Ironically enough it was the success of those bands and the rest of the British Invasion that led to the decline of The Ronettes’ popularity.  They only recorded one album together, 1964’s “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronicabefore they broke up in 1967, relying on only hit singles for much of their success.  But they had a great run and girls like me still believe in their songs and in the power of big hair.

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 Ronettes
The Ronettes circa 1967 (l–r):  Nedra Talley and her cousins, sisters Ronnie Spector f/k/a Veronica Bennett and Estelle Bennett (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Ronettes:  “Be My Baby” (1963, written by Jeff Barry, Elle Greenwich and Phil Spector).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 23

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Merry Christmas Eve eve!!!

day 23

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

Is it weird that one of my favorite versions of today’s song is from a 1996 “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) skit?  It featured two of my favorite regulars, Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon, along with a very funny Whitney Houston a few years after “The Bodyguard” was released.  The skit is hilarious and ends with her and Shannon trying to out-sing each other on this song.  No, I don’t think it’s weird.  I think it would be strange if I did not appreciate this fabulous piece of pop culture.  Another one of my favorite versions of today’s song is by a 1960’s girl group who not only gave us some great music, but also helped to introduce all of us to another part of pop culture-The Wall of Sound.

Ronettes

The Ronettes:  “Sleigh Ride” (1963, music written by Leroy Anderson in 1948 & lyrics written by Mitchell Parish in 1950).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2018: Day 4

Hi, Everybody!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

rustic holiday sleigh

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown). 

Today’s song was written as an instrumental 70 years ago by American composer Leroy Anderson.  Lyricist Mitchell Parish added the words two years later.  That same year, the Andrew Sisters recorded the song.  I really enjoy their version-the three part harmony, the sound effects and the addition of male background singers at the choruses.  The Ronettes also recorded a great version of this holiday tune in 1963, but my favorite one is by the First Lady of Song.   In her lifetime she recorded over 200 albums, sold over 40 million records, won 13 Grammy Awards and played at Carnegie Hall a total of 26 times.  She was also awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The lady could sing and swing.   And everything in between.

Ella

Courtesy of the Ella Fitzgerald website.  

Ella Fitzgerald:  “Sleigh Ride“.

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Songs: Day 3

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

tree

(original source unknown)

Several musical genres define the 1960’s:  Rock & Roll, Motown, The Beatles, The British Invasion, the San Francisco sound and the Wall of Sound-a technique which layered music tracks for a song to give the music a deeper sound.  Introduced to the world courtesy of songwriter and producer Phil Spector, the sound would become synonymous with his premier girl groups like the Teddy Bears, the Crystals and the Ronettes whose song “Be My Baby” stands as a definitive example of the unique sound Spector created.

He worked with men too, most notably the Righteous Brothers on “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling“, the Walker Brothers on “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and the Beatles (he was responsible for finishing the “Let It Be” album after the group broke up).  He also co-produced four of John Lennon’s solo albums & three of George Harrison’s, as well as several of their singles.  Bruce Springsteen channeled the Wall of Sound sound on his epic “Born To Run” album while his bandmate/best friend Steven Van Zandt regularly features Spector produced records on his “Underground Garage” radio show.

Spector album

(original source unknown)

In 1963 Spector released an album of holiday songs which were given the Wall of Sound treatment.  Entitled “A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector” , it featured primarily all women, two of whom are my favorite female singers of all time:  Darlene Love & Ronnie Spector.  So to avoid making a difficult choice, I am including a song from each to share with you today.  Enjoy!!!

Darlene Love:  “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)“.

Darlene Love

Darlene Love circa 1963 (original source unknown)

The Ronettes “Sleigh Ride“.

Ronettes

The Ronettes circa 1963 (original source unknown)

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you   🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!