It was one of those life-changing moments you never forget.
I first heard “Be My Baby”, the classic Ellie Greenwich song (sung by the Ronettes, produced by Phil Spector) at a meeting of my extremely romantic high school Latin Club. Yes, I was a Latin Club nerd, we used to meet for fried donuts at the home of Miss Hall–who had known personally several of the ancient Roman poets, it seemed. Seriously she was a wondeful lady and the more I read, the more I pity anyone who hasn’t studied Latin, all the greatness you’re missing.
But anyway after a spellbinding discussion of irregular and intransitive verbs, people would play music and someone put on “Be My Baby” and all at once, as if illuminated by a flash of emotional lightning I understood love and longing. Or anyway the brilliant Brill Building pop version of it which ,along with Smokey Robinson and Motown captured something that is both eternal and heartbreakingly elusive.
But there was something special about “Be My Baby”. (there’s a lovely little film by that title by John Sayles*). It’s still a peak experience and one I think will continue to be rediscovered for generations to come.
What an amazing work! Nod to Phil Spector of course, but still…Ellie G. also wrote “River Deep, Mountain High”, Ike and Tina Turner’s haunting Spector classic. The Shangri Las! Darlene Love! Come on! She was a genius at manipulating music and emotion in a profoundly true way that elevated and ruined the lives of generations. Her work will last as long as love does.
As we’d say in Latin Club: Ave atque, Ellie.
*See comments for correction, Sayles’ film was “Baby it’s You”