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Thread: Ronnie Spector, RIP - And MC

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Ronnie Spector, RIP - And MC

    As many of you may know, on Wednesday, January 12th, we lost another great. Ronnie Spector died. I wasn't going to post anything here, though I definitely would have followed suit if someone else did. I rarely start a thread unless it has something to do with the mandolin, but I'll often ring in if such a thread is going. Once the ice is broken, the swimming is fine.

    But I was quite surprised to learn there is indeed mandolin content in Ronnie's career. So I'll lead with that revelation rather than bury the lead in remembrances; time for that later.

    In 1971, four years after The Ronettes broke up, a year after The Beatles broke up, Ronnie recorded an album at Abbey Road, co-produced by Phil Spector and George Harrison. It included a song of Harrison's, "Try Some, Buy Some," which didn't make the cut for "All Things Must Pass," from the previous year. I'd never heard it - it didn't perform well on the charts - and though George recorded it himself for 1973's "Living in the Material World," and I own the LP, I don't recall it at all.

    In 1999, however, she named the song among her five favorite recordings from her career, along with "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", "Take Me Home Tonight", the title track of her 1999 EP "She Talks to Rainbows," and "Be My Baby." This time, my favorite Ronettes song, "Walking In The Rain," didn't make the cut. Even so, it's pleasing to know that this song, largely overlooked as far as I know, was produced with a rich mandolin presence, and ended up being a personal favorite of hers - although at the time, she couldn't figure out its meaning, and she said it "stunk." I think the production is way overblown, even for Phil Spector, and George Harrison has written much better songs and Ronnie Spector has turned in much better vocal performances, but still, here it is, interesting as a historical curio, if nothing else. Bear in mind, this was well before the mandolin ascended to the heights of importance and relevance it has achieved in rock at present. Still, though the song was recorded after "Maggie May," it was released three months sooner, so the enormous impact that song had on the mandolin's popularity in popular music had no effect on this recording. So, to the very short list of songs that feature mandolin in the pop/rock Golden Era of the mid-60s-mid-70s we can add this:



    I don't know why, but it's the death of people involved in the arts that affects me the most. It's been a rough couple of weeks. Betty White, Sidney Poitier, Michael Lang, and now this. This hurts the most. I've spent so much time listening to her rich, full, warm, emotive, evocative voice. It was smooth as silk and thick as honey. She held me in thrall from the first note she sang till the last echoes faded away.

    It's one of the biggest thrills of my journalistic career and my life that I got to meet her, however briefly. It was backstage at a show at The Bottom Line celebrating the release of "The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock: Trouble Girls." Every decade was represented: Brenda Lee for the 50s, Ronnie Spector for the 60s, I forget the 70s (a lot of people do), I'm not sure if Lucinda Williams represented the 80s or 90s, but Patti Rothberg (who opened the whole shebang with one song) and Dar Williams represented the 90s. (Victoria Williams was backstage, too, and I've got a picture of "the Williams Sisters" I may dig out later.)

    That backstage area was a whole other event - the most amazing congregation of musical talent I've ever experienced. And Ronnie Spector was the brightest light there - just beaming that captivating smile, while replete in full black leather. I couldn't think of anything clever to say to this diminutive goddess who towered above all; I think I just thanked her for all the music. She smiled at me so sweetly and thanked me back. My heart races now just recalling those few moments.

    And now she's gone, just like that. Her music will live forever in our hearts, minds, and souls.

    People are bound to cite "Be My Baby" as her highest point. That's fine; it used to be for me, too. But somewhere along the way, I gravitated toward "Walking In The Rain." I embraced the longing for a perfect love so elegantly and slyly understated and so eloquently delivered:

    I love him, I need him
    And someday, someway, whoa-oh-oh I'll meet him.



    Yes, it was written and produced and played by other people, but the way she sang it, it came from her soul. It moves me as much now as it did long ago, and it always will.

    God bless you, Ronnie Spector, Veronica Yvette Bennett, Goddess in Black Leather. Rest in peace, sweet black angel.

    Here are the Ronettes years later, but those voices are still ... wow! And without the Wall of Sound, they're more out front. The hip checks are nice, too.

    Last edited by journeybear; Jan-14-2022 at 4:50pm. Reason: neatness counts
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    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ronnie Spector, RIP - And MC

    Thanks for posting. I too had a lifelong crush on Ronnie. Here's one of my favorites among her performances. (This rocks!)

    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ronnie Spector, RIP - And MC

    Noice. I'm not sure I had a crush on her, as such, but I loved her voice. That's not strong enough - I lurved her voice.

    I was a little surprised she included this Eddie Money song among her favorites. The song really ain't all that much, AFAIC, but she takes it up a notch or three. I still remember seeing this appearance on Letterman live, and when she appeared and did her thing, it was a big thrill, a real "wow" moment. It's stuck with me all these years, and it's great to be able to revisit it.

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    My favorite bluegrass band

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    Default Re: Ronnie Spector, RIP - And MC

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    As many of you may know, on Wednesday, January 12th, we lost another great. Ronnie Spector died. I wasn't going to post anything here, though I definitely would have followed suit if someone else did. I rarely start a thread unless it has something to do with the mandolin, but I'll often ring in if such a thread is going. Once the ice is broken, the swimming is fine.
    That was a fitting tribute, journeybear. You did a great job!

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Ronnie Spector, RIP - And MC

    Great thread! I nearly posted a Ronnie Spector RIP thread myself, but didn’t have a mandolin hook to hang it on.

    But here’s why I wanted to say something:

    I think it’s an essential part of musicianship to connect with the sounds that have excited us or inspired us the most in our lives, no matter the genre or where they came from. For me, something about those Ronnie Spector tunes in particular and that “Wall of Sound” period in general push some real buttons of feeling and memory — maybe it was my age when I heard them on AM radio in the 60s, or the nature of the songs themselves, but there’s a sense of longing and lovesickness under them that grabs me every time.

    So even though I’m a bluegrass mandolin picker, I know “high and lonesome” when I hear it .. whether it’s Ronnie Spector, Buck Owens, Billie Holiday or anyone else. Somehow, I think being conscious of what turns us on in all kinds of music becomes a kind of North Star on our musical journeys, and can be part of the discovery process that tells us who we are and helps us develop our unique style when we play.

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