POLL: Greatest Ellie Greenwich-penned song

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Poll Closing Date: Friday, 15 September 2017 00:00 (in 3 weeks)

...excluding The Ronettes' Be My Baby, which we can just assume got #1. I'm sure I've missed some people's favorite here, but hey.

The Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron
The Crystals - Then He Kissed Me
The Crystals - Little Boy
The Ronettes (Beach Boys) - I Can Hear Music
The Ronettes - Baby, I Love You
The Ronettes - Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love
The Ronettes - I Wonder
Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans (Darlene Love) - Not Too Young To Get Married
Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans (Darlene Love) - Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart
Lesley Gore - Maybe I Know
Leslie Gore - Look of Love
Ike & Tina Turner - River Deep Mountain High
The Shangri-Las - Leader of The Pack
The Shangri-Las - Out In The Streets
The Shangri-Las - The Train From Kansas City
The Shangri Las - Heaven Only Knows
The Shangri-Las - Give Us Your Blessings
Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come)
Darlene Love - A Fine Fine Boy
Darlene Love - Wait Til' My Bobby Gets Home
The Exciters - He's Got The Power
The Exciters (Manfred Mann) - Do Wah Diddy Diddy
The Drifters - I'll Take You Where The Music Is Playing
The Chiffons - I Have a Boyfriend
The Chiffons - When The Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too)
The Dixie Cups - Chapel of Love
The Dixie Cups - People Say
The Raindrops - The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget
The Raindrops - One More Tear
Ellie Greenwich (Berri, Elkie Brooks) - Sunshine After The Rain
Jelly Beans - I Wanna Love Him So Bad
Tommy James and the Shondells - Hanky Panky
Sam Hawkins - Hold On Baby
Connie Francis - Don't Ever Leave Me


abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 11:49 (one week ago) Permalink

Oddball #1 for me: "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget." Had it on a Top 100 I counted down once on a radio show. Runners-up: 2) "Look of Love", 3) "Out in the Streets," 4) "Christmas (Baby Please Come)," 5) "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" (Exciters version). And a half-dozen more I love.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 11:56 (one week ago) Permalink

Barry's bass was formidable on the Raindrops tunes. Speaking of oddball entries, a few I now immediately regret not adding to the poll are 'Hickory Dickory Dock' by Baby Jane & The Rockabyes, and the Spector-less Jack Nitzsche collab gem 'Happy Anniversary' with Pat Powdrill.

abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 12:13 (one week ago) Permalink

Any of these songs would be any other songwriter's crowning achievement of a career.

But, hey let's short-list:

The Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron
The Crystals - Then He Kissed Me
The Ronettes (Beach Boys) - I Can Hear Music
The Ronettes - Baby, I Love You
Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans (Darlene Love) - Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart
Lesley Gore - Maybe I Know
Ike & Tina Turner - River Deep Mountain High
The Shangri-Las - Leader of The Pack
The Shangri-Las - Out In The Streets
The Shangri-Las - The Train From Kansas City
The Shangri Las - Heaven Only Knows
The Shangri-Las - Give Us Your Blessings
Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come)
The Exciters (Manfred Mann) - Do Wah Diddy Diddy
The Drifters - I'll Take You Where The Music Is Playing
The Chiffons - When The Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too)
Ellie Greenwich (Berri, Elkie Brooks) - Sunshine After The Rain
Tommy James and the Shondells - Hanky Panky

Mark G, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 12:21 (one week ago) Permalink

The others are mostly unheard by me.

Actively excluded: "Chapel Of Love" not because it's a bad song but it just rings hollow somehow. And I can only imagine it being sung with a total lack of enthusiasm: "geee, I really love you..."

But, Hey.

Oh, and in fact I sort-of withdraw the comment as I have a version by The Velvet Underground - they did it as a "ironic" cover, but the song managed to kick them back by being better than their neworiginalstuff. The Lou-less version, hugely obviously.

Mark G, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 12:24 (one week ago) Permalink

The Chiffons - I Have a Boyfriend

A song for every occasion, it would seem. Is this a "please go away" song?

Mark G, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 12:26 (one week ago) Permalink

Checked what I have on the computer, and besides the Jelly Beans song you list, I've got two others written by Greenwich/Barry: "Baby Be Mine" and "Goodnight Baby." The Shop Assistants excellent cover of "Train from Kansas City" also turned up. Vintage live clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtMmFgmudmc

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 12:30 (one week ago) Permalink

Love 'I Have a Boyfriend' -- its catchy bom-shoo-bops, bridge, and that stating-the-facts, bragging/defensive, 'ok I didn't really ask' titular line pre-dating memes and whatnot of recent years.

abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 12:45 (one week ago) Permalink

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) or Then He Kissed Me or Chapel of Love or Leader of the Pack or Out in the Streets or River Deep.

Wow.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 13:55 (one week ago) Permalink

Impossible, objectively. But luckily see a personal favorite I can vote for.

There is a great story told by Leiber and Stoller about how the "Chapel of Love" demo was chosen as the song to be recorded as their next (first? on their new label) hit single.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 14:03 (one week ago) Permalink

Unreleased master, actually, not demo. Below from All Hopped and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-1977, by Tony Fletcher.

Leiber and Stoller were revered producers and songwriters, and respected businessmen, but as their own label bosses, they were repeated failures. Goldner had some of the best ears in the business; he just couldn’t be trusted with money. Together, however, they had the makings of the perfect partnership. When Leiber told Goldner about the unreleased masters, Goldner offered to listen to them immediately, through the night if need be. They left Weiss at Al and Dick’s, and Leiber showed him into the office. “I came back the next morning,” said Leiber. “There he sat, every hair in place. His tie up where it belonged, his jacket on, and he’s waving this acetate in my face. ‘Leiber, on my mother’s grave…’” The record was “Going to the Chapel,” by the Dixie Cups. “I said, ‘George, I hate this fucking record.’” Stoller, who joined Leiber for that morning meeting—it was the first time he had ever met George Goldner, too—felt otherwise. “I liked it very much,” he said.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 14:36 (one week ago) Permalink

And there's lots more about this in Leiber and Stoller's own book, Hound Dog. First US-made #1 single after the start of the British Invasion, apparently.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 14:41 (one week ago) Permalink

"Then He Kissed Me" is sometimes my favourite pop song of all time, so that.

the general theme of STUFF (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:04 (one week ago) Permalink

"Out in the Streets" or "Christmas," argh..

Prefer The Butterflys' version of "I Wonder" to The Ronettes'

Josefa, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:04 (one week ago) Permalink

There are *at least* 10 indisputably correct answers here, yes.

the general theme of STUFF (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:06 (one week ago) Permalink

Things like "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" sound so perfect as recorded, with that typical Red Bird stripped-down anti-Spector production sound

Josefa, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:10 (one week ago) Permalink

So many gold-plated classics here. Hard for me not to vote for all of these: "Train From Kansas City," "Da Do Ron Ron," "Maybe I Know," "River Deep, Mountain High," "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," "Chapel of Love." Even at that, the obvious pick for me is "Baby I Love You." So great in every version.

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:13 (one week ago) Permalink

I made a Spotify playlist.

the general theme of STUFF (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:21 (one week ago) Permalink

Thanks! I was crying, waiting, hoping.

Things like "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" sound so perfect as recorded, with that typical Red Bird stripped-down anti-Spector production sound

Yes, voted for this one

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:23 (one week ago) Permalink

Immediate visceral answer is "Maybe I Know."

Old Lynch's Sex Paragraph (Phil D.), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 15:47 (one week ago) Permalink

'He's Got The Power' is a bit of a shock to the system first time you hear it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOu5jM_un3Q

abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 16:02 (one week ago) Permalink

Barry interview tidbit

Jeff Barry talked about his girl-group hits of the 1960s. When the conversation turned to how the work was divided between him and Ellie Greenwich—his songwriting partner at the time, who died in 2009—he offered a surprise. "People always marvel at how closely Ellie could identify with the teenage girl's psyche," said Mr. Barry, who recently turned 75. "Except I wrote most of the lyrics—not Ellie. She wrote most of the music."

abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 16:09 (one week ago) Permalink

She's also said in interviews she's been robbed of producing credits because it was just 'proper' that the guy got it

abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 16:09 (one week ago) Permalink

thanks for the spotify list crypto

abcfsk, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 17:46 (one week ago) Permalink

this is an insane list of songs

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 21:27 (one week ago) Permalink

"Da Doo Ron Ron" is really wonderful raw material for rock n roll, i love the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra cover of it. "Leader of the Pack" is a technicolor pre-punk pop masterpiece. "Baby I Love You" may as well be excluded like "Be My Baby" for being too good a contender for Ultimate Pop Song. the whirlwind Pillar of Cloud that is "River Deep Mountain High".

i suppose the rockist line is this stuff was written for teenage girls but imo it is very universal and i think thats a big reason why it is so beloved. a patriarchal society may effectively gender that experience (and the expression of it) but the need to be loved is a huge part of the human experience no matter who you are. these songs are relatable if you have ever been in love or ever dreamed of being in love.

these songs are about emotions and feelings you can't accurately describe with words other than elucidating the human drama through the imperfect details you remember. it is flawed like memory. the music is perfect for the words, the organicness of all the duplicate players and layers of sound, quivering with emotion. the teenage Ritual of High Drama rendered in glorious excess.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 21:44 (one week ago) Permalink

Off the top of my head and I don't know 'em all:

1. Maybe I Know
2. Out in the Streets
3. I Have a Boyfriend

timellison, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 22:00 (one week ago) Permalink

Out in the Streets over Look of Love

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 8 August 2017 22:43 (one week ago) Permalink

I voted Maybe I Know.

everything, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 22:50 (one week ago) Permalink

Not really into her Shangri-la ones too much. They have half a dozen stronger numbers than even "Train From Kansas City".

everything, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 22:51 (one week ago) Permalink

People Say, the other Dixie Cups song on the list, is so good.

that's not my post, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 23:31 (one week ago) Permalink

this is totally "Maybe I Know" for me, always loved Leslie Gore and wouldn't put it above "You Don't Own Me" per se but of the ones on this list it wins, though lot of worthy contenders.

Neanderthal, Tuesday, 8 August 2017 23:33 (one week ago) Permalink

Not really into her Shangri-la ones too much. They have half a dozen stronger numbers than even "Train From Kansas City".

whaaaat, I love "give us your blessing" to, those tunes kick ass

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 00:30 (one week ago) Permalink

Their best ones are "Dressed in Black", "Past, Present & Future", "I Can Never Go Home Anymore", "He Cried", "Never Again", "Give Him a Great Big Kiss". The Greenwich-penned numbers aren't close to that standard (except for Train from Kansas City possibly).

everything, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 00:38 (one week ago) Permalink

I think this is my top 4 but I'm not positive about which I'd rank highest:

Da Doo Ron Ron
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Then He Kissed Me
Chapel of Love

crüt, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 01:27 (one week ago) Permalink

^ I like all of those better than "Be My Baby" fwiw

crüt, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 01:28 (one week ago) Permalink

I'll cosign "He Cried" & "Great Big Kiss" on your best of the S-L's list but otherwise we're going to have to be at odds here

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 9 August 2017 01:38 (one week ago) Permalink

this is an interesting poll, not the least because it features so many great songs i don't know, but also because it's so tough to isolate the songwriting from the performance and production. like River Deep Mountain High, which features an incredible vocal from tina turner but also a classic spector production job. how would that song sound with a lesser singer, and with generic production?

i have no idea, but it's fun to try to figure it out!

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 01:47 (one week ago) Permalink

A couple more good ones:

Darlene Love - (Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry
The Butterflys - Good Night Baby
The Ronettes - I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine
The Chiffons - Sweet Talkin' Guy
Ellie Greenwich - You Don't Know

And then there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf-dPsk1uCA

Darlene Love - "Johnny (Baby Please Come Home)"

(This is all a stall tactic to keep me from having to decide what to vote for.)

Hideous Lump, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 03:01 (one week ago) Permalink

Oh no, I would've added '(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry' if I remembered. That Ronettes too. Then there are more than enough great, more obscure songs of hers for a second poll of the same size. "Good Night Baby" and "Baby Be Mine" are tracks where she's also credited with "Conducted by"

abcfsk, Wednesday, 9 August 2017 06:02 (one week ago) Permalink

Ronnie Spector's birthday today.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 10 August 2017 16:21 (one week ago) Permalink

had no idea she wrote Doo Wah Diddy!

Οὖτις, Thursday, 10 August 2017 16:31 (one week ago) Permalink

i had an amazing opportunity to see her live back in 2011. i was on tour in New York and had a day off and there was a free oldies show at Lincoln center. we spent the day on mushrooms at Coney Island beach and then went to this show late in the afternoon. Paul Schaffer and the usual music pros were there backing up Ronnie. Lesie Gore was there singing "It's My Party". Ronnie sang "Be My Baby". it was incredible. she still sounded very much like the records.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/arts/music/shes-got-the-power-at-lincoln-center-review.html

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 10 August 2017 16:35 (one week ago) Permalink

I know "The Train from Kansas City" from Superchunk as they covered it and it's on their first singles collection.

That is a very impressive list of tunes.

earlnash, Thursday, 10 August 2017 17:54 (one week ago) Permalink

River Deep Mountain High is even more obvious than Be My Baby

gospodin simmel, Thursday, 10 August 2017 18:23 (one week ago) Permalink

They're about even for me, but I agree with the idea that "Be My Baby" would not have been an automatic #1. It's got the burden of over-familiarity ("Leader of the Pack," too). I suspect it would have ended with the same handful of votes that a bunch of songs from that list will.

clemenza, Friday, 11 August 2017 00:55 (one week ago) Permalink

I like their production on the early Neil Diamond records. If she is one of the geniuses who came up with the horn break on "Solitary Man," then wow.

River Deep Mountain High is even more obvious than Be My Baby

Maybe if you're British? But that was not a hit in the U.S. and has had no life as an "oldie" here either.

timellison, Friday, 11 August 2017 03:28 (one week ago) Permalink

Boy, the Everly Brothers could have done a job on "Maybe I Know."

timellison, Friday, 11 August 2017 04:32 (one week ago) Permalink

tim, from a Neil Diamond interview after her death:

She was too young. She will always be that 20 year old in the studio just overflowing with energy and enthusiasm, laughing, having fun, coming up on the spot with these fantastic background parts or these horn parts on 'Kentucky Woman' or 'Solitary Man.'

abcfsk, Friday, 11 August 2017 04:35 (one week ago) Permalink

V jealous of seeing that gig, Adam

abcfsk, Friday, 11 August 2017 04:36 (one week ago) Permalink

<3

timellison, Friday, 11 August 2017 05:01 (one week ago) Permalink

Also jealous of Adam, and tempted to delete my Adam bookmark from Spotify, but guess I have to be happy that I got see Lala Brooks a year or two back, with a few members of Ronnie's band.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 05:08 (one week ago) Permalink

How many of you can answer this trivia question without peeking: What super-funky jazz drummer was LaLa Brooks once married to?

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 05:13 (one week ago) Permalink

I know I can't vote for this so I am putting it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KH6e_6O_dE

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 05:25 (one week ago) Permalink

That was the TNT show, this is Shindig:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrVbawRPO7I

Would post Ronnie on the Sha Na Na show, except you'd have to sit through Sha Na Na

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 05:29 (one week ago) Permalink

Didn't Brian Wilson write "Don't Worry Baby" as an answer song to that?

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 05:33 (one week ago) Permalink

Those concert films are a blessing, amazing footage of Ronettes, also those killer Lesley Gore performances from the T.A.M.I show.

abcfsk, Friday, 11 August 2017 05:54 (one week ago) Permalink

Recommending you all read the book mentioned at this post if you haven't already.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 11 August 2017 19:08 (one week ago) Permalink

Only one part of a book, so obviously not nearly so detailed, but I'd also recommend the Carole King section in Sheila Weller's Girls Like Us. There's lots in Greenwich and the Brill Building in there--I think it was the Weller book that got me to buy the Greenwich compilation where I was introduced to the Raindrops' "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget."

clemenza, Friday, 11 August 2017 21:15 (one week ago) Permalink

So wondering now if the Charlie Gillett book The Sound of Music got its title from the lyrics of "I Can Hear Music."

Lucas With The Lydian F (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 13 August 2017 03:42 (one week ago) Permalink

i love the larry lurex version of "i can hear music".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5tr6O1XvjM

The Saga of Rodney Stooksbury (rushomancy), Sunday, 13 August 2017 03:50 (one week ago) Permalink

this poll needs an "all of them" option. but since there isn't: "train from kansas city." every single thing about this song is perfect, including but not at all limited to the melody of "baby, baby" (i mean, christ, this song has completely destroyed me by the time it gets to the second syllable of the first word); the line "i'll be back in the time it takes to break a heart"; and the reverb on the snare drum in the last verse, which i realize is not technically considered a "penned by" part of this song, but every detail in this song works with every other detail in this song, and all of them are necessary. there are obviously other songs on this list for which this is similarly true.

fact checking cuz, Sunday, 13 August 2017 04:59 (one week ago) Permalink

also my vote and yeah, the bit when the drums come back in is one of the greatest pop moments ever

honourable mention to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFrecN_dsPc

Number None, Sunday, 13 August 2017 09:24 (one week ago) Permalink

Neko Case version of "Train From Kansas City" is good too.

Lucas With The Lydian F (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 13 August 2017 12:48 (one week ago) Permalink


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