Tag: pop music

Remembering Ronnie Spector

 

Singer Veronica Greenfield, better known by her stage name Ronnie Spector, has died. I won’t pretend to be an expert on her life or career, but I can tell you this: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica has not been bested by any pop music since. I don’t think it can be. Songs like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain” are a perfection of the form, though it would be wrong to talk about the music of The Ronettes only in terms of pop. It’s some of the greatest American music, period.

The Ronettes, as well as most of the notable girl groups of the ’60s, owe much of their success to producer Phil Spector who Ronnie married in 1968. All the producing genius in the world would’ve meant zilch had Phil not been working with singers of such immense talent as Ronnie, her sister Estelle, and their cousin Nedra Talley. As lead singer, Ronnie is the star of those records. Her voice was as powerful as it was beautiful, the envy of angels. She would shine no matter who was in the studio with her. Phil was lucky to have her. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly in light of his later conviction for murder, Phil was an abusive scumbag. They divorced in 1974. She kept the surname for business purposes.

Her post-Ronettes career didn’t bring the same financial success, but artistically she was as vibrant as ever. Of particular note to me was She Talks to Rainbows released in 1999. The EP was produced by Joey Ramone. Girl groups were a major influence on the Ramones whose divisive End of the Century was produced by Phil Spector and featured a cover of The Ronettes “Baby, I Love You” (read the Wikipedia article for more anecdotes about Phil’s overbearing, horrific behavior). She Talks to Rainbows sees Ronnie return the favor, covering two Ramones tracks, as well as tracks by Johnny Thunders and The Beach Boys. In the coming days, you’re going to see a lot of people posting “Be My Baby”, but for me, Ronnie’s crowning jewel is this eponymous song, a cover that turns a forgettable song into a masterpiece:

Winter and Summer Songs

 

As we variously huddle in, dig out, or get on with the new year, here are a few popular music tunes from the late 20th Century, the start of a soundtrack. I invite your contributions in the comments. Or offer up a few tunes of your own, in the same genre or other genres! There are plenty of days left in our monthly theme “Winter of our Discontent,” so feel free to express yourself! Let’s start in 1966:

In 1968, “Sometimes in Winter” was a melancholy, reflective tale:

Member Post

 

Boris Johnson laid out his vision for Britain and touted his accomplishments as mayor of London before his surprise announcement that he wouldn’t seek the Tory leadership. Among his accomplishments, he said: “We brought down crime by almost 20%, the murder rate down by half, bus crime down by 50%—obviously crime committed on buses, rather than […]

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Member Post

 

I wasn’t a huge Prince fan, mainly because he came along in a period after I had left the music business and was occupied with other things. Also, I watched “Under the Cherry Moon” which is 2 hours I’ll never get back. But whenever I heard his music unannounced, my first thought was always “that […]

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Cambodian Popular Music

 

I recently introduced Cambodian popular music to a few friends. One thought the Khmer language sounded odd but the songs sounded interesting, and the other two thought it was okay. So I thought I should do the same to my fellow Ricochet members.

From the late 1940s to 1975, Cambodia had a pretty thriving pop music scene. Our pop music is influenced by our traditional and folk music as well as French, English, and Japanese Enka. Cambodian popular music consists of pop, rock, and dance songs. Dance songs are based on several of our folk tunes. We sing and dance to these folk-based pop songs on New Year Days and at wedding receptions. All songs are pre-1975, and since all songs are pre-1975, the majority of the artists are dead.

Which Popular Songs Ring True?

 

Most pop songs are generic fluff, surely–written to appeal to a vast audience. They are like musical candy, easily made and consumed. Think of all the catchy, cranked out ruminations on love and break-ups.

But once in a while, a song will strike me as an expression by a writer who was moved by real events and strong emotions. Some popular songs, if not art, are at least thoughtful musical meditations on life experience that we all have in common. My examples here are subjective, because I am not a music expert and could not tell you any technical signposts in the composition. Perhaps you agree with my choices, or would have alternate suggestions.

Member Post

 

  Last week was pretty a pretty full week.  On a serious geopolitical level we saw further barbarity from the Middle East, the serious prospect of removal of the Cross of St. Andrew from the flag that once flew over 1/4 of the world’s land mass, and evidence of further decay in Obama’s DC.  In happier news Apple came […]

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