Here’s a great guest post for Cue Castanets courtesy of a good friend and fellow Spector fan and collector. Online, he calls himself Spectorlector. Enjoy!
BE MY BABY
– A song,… and a book.
I never really cared for music! I know that is hard to believe since I am guest-posting on this blog, but being born in 1974, I grew up during the 80s with hiphop, rap, breakdance and huge ghettoblasters. (Btw. why was it necessary to have such a big machine to play those small casette tapes?) I was certainly born in the wrong decade…
But then in 1987 a song changed my life: ‘Be my baby’ by the Ronettes. The first time I heard the song I had an epiphany, very much like Brian Wilson, when he heard the track back in 1963 and almost crashed his car. In 1987, for a 13 year-old boy like me at the time, 1963 seemed like a century ago. I was hooked though, wanting to dicover more…. know more about the girls, the group, their story…. Who did that song, and what happened to them? The words ‘performed by THE RONETTES’ printed on the back of my sisters vinyl copy of the ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack was sketched into my brain.
For me, the song in itself was the sound of lust, love, innocence and emotional yearning, all rolled into one. The triple drum-fills sounding like a heart skipping, the castanets evoking the feeling of shivers down the spine and the strings putting into sound the butterflies in my stomach. Never before had a piece of music spoken to me like this. I was in love with a song… Thus began a love affair, that has lasted longer than any real romance in my life.
This was before the world wide web, and back in those days, finding info on anything was like searching for a needle in a haystack. One day though, I happened to see the words “BE MY BABY” in bright pink letters on a bookstand, I could feel the black in my eyes growing, like when a cat eyes a mouse… That was the first time I laid eyes on Ronnie, her tight skirt and high beehive hair. Wow! I finally got a huge step closer to solving the mystery of The Ronettes and ‘Be my Baby’.
25 years have passed since I first read her book, and what a book! The perfect page-turner. The story of a half-breed teenage girl from Spanish Harlem, striving for success in show-business, eventually recording one of the most iconic and loved 60s pop-songs, only to watch it all slip away. The nightmare of her marriage to – and lock-up by – the producer of her songs, the subsequent battle with alcoholism, frustration… and finally, surviving it all and getting back to the one thing she loves and does best: performing.
Ronnie’s book was republished in 2004 and is in print now again in 2015 in a brand new version featuring lots of ‘never before seen’ photographs. It comes in four different versions, an Ebook/Kindle version and three printed options. A paperback with only b/w photos, a paperback with colour and b/w photos, and most importantly: a “have to own” hardback. As far as Ronnie’s story goes, it’s the same as when first published. What’s important here is the updated discography and the mind-blowing set of both black/white and colour photos included.
For me this new edition is important. I helped updating and putting the discography together, a fine and impressive labor of love, that was original done (among others) by one of my mentors and friends: David A. Young. Because I helped a little, my name is mentioned twice in the book….this makes me so proud. The song, the book and I have come full circle. I never dreamed I would be part of a piece of work that I adored so much. If someone had told me this 25 years ago, and all the people I would connect with during my love affair with “Be My Baby” – the song and the book – I would have said “you’re nuts” and laughed in their face. Pretty much the same feeling I know Ronnie Spector has whenever she is out on the road, singing, performing and meeting fans that are still in love with her, her songs and her story… 50+ years down the line…
On a final note, I would like to say that I gain no profit what-so-ever from being a part the book, nor the sales.