Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Farewell, Ronnie Spector

Rock and roll was always aimed at a young audience, and from the genre's very beginning, rock singers' were voicing the concerns and feelings of their teenaged audience. Artists like Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly may have been experts at writing lyrics that reflected the antiestablishment angst or romantic yearnings of their young audience, but they didn't really sound like kids themselves. Neither did Elvis or Little Richard or Fats Domino or Darlene Love. Ronnie Spector, however, did. 

Just eighteen when she started recording with The Ronettes, Veronica Bennett sounded like a kid because she basically still was one, but even when she started having hits with the glorious "Be My Baby" at age twenty , she always retained that youthful timbre. However, she always enriched her high-pitch with a real sense of experience and completely unfiltered emotion. 

When she married  Phil Spector, the producer of her most unforgettable hits, her career slammed to a halt as he basically kept her a prisoner in her own home. Fortunately, she had the guts to escape her abusive spouse, tell her story, and continue singing in that magical voice pitched right on the borderline of adolescence and adulthood. Whether Ronnie Spector is singing "Be My Baby" or "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", her voice always tears my heart out in the best way. Sadly, she died today at the age of 78 after suffering from cancer.

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