Friday, August 28, 2009

Ellie Greenwich (1940 - 2009) and the soundtrack of the 1960s

Wait 'till my Bobby gets home,
Wait till my baby gets ho-ome
Yeah yeah yeah yea-eah, sure I need some lovin'
Some kissin' and a-huggin'
But I'll wait 'till my Bobby gets home.


That's the first I heard of Ellie Greenwich: her 1973 single Wait 'Till My Bobby Gets Home – a vibrant pop song.

With that came her bio, in a pop chart dated 13th September, 1973:


"Ellie Greenwich is currently having her first hit - at the age of 33, although she's far from being any newcomer to the business.  She, like Carole King and Neil Sedaka, comes from Brooklyn, New York City.  Also, like Carole King, she's divorced from her ex-songwriting partner/husband.  But to get back to the beginnings, she was a high-school teacher for a while, and she was a contracted songwriter for Lieber and Stoller's publishing company.  There she met Jeff Barry, who'd just written his first hit - Tell Laura I Love Her.  They began writing and singing together, and later got married.  The artists for whom they wrote hits included Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield, The Crystals, Lesley Gore, and Ike and Tina Turner, and their hits included And Then He Kissed Me, Chapel of Love, I Can Hear Music, Baby I Love You, Leader of the Pack and River Deep, Mountain High.  When their marriage broke up things slowed down a lot for Ellie Greenwich, but the tremendous success of Carole King has inspired her with a similar ambition.  As a result, she currently has her first solo single on American charts, and it's now hit ours - Ellie Greenwich's Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home is this week in place 83 on the ZM Sound Survey."*

It sounds odd now, but at the time most of the above namechecks drew a blank with me.  But I had only just started listening to pop music with a verve, and it only took another seven years of listening to the radio to fully round out my education in all that was big in music since the advent of rock and roll.

Not until I did the research just now, did I find out Bobby had already been a minor hit in 1963 for Darlene Love (#26 on Billboard).  Or that she also wrote Sunshine After The Rain, a very pleasant almost-hit for Elkie Brooks in the late seventies.

She was credited with setting Neil Diamond on the road to success as a performer; she also worked with Phil Spector (writer, producer and arch criminal) on a number of their biggest mutual successes.

Despite the promise ascribed to her in the above bio, in reality Greenwich's chief impact on music was her songwriting contribution to the blossoming of the sixties.  A narrow focus, but one that shouldn't be understated.  It is a tribute to her skills that so many of those songs were later covered by so many people.

 Although her songs are well known by many, most people haven't even heard her sing - which she does creditably.  An extract from Bobby, from her second album, 1973's Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung, can be heard here. (you can also hear Sunshine After The Rain via Elkie's version here, and Ellie's original here.  They present an interesting comparison between sixties and seventies sensibilities).  Ellie's own site is worth a look; there's also a great interview with her here.

Discography
Date
type
title
label
details
Charts
1958
S
Silly Isn't It/ Cha-Cha Charming

(as Ellie Gaye)
-
1963
S
What A Guy
Jubilee
(as Raindrops, with husband Jeff Barry)
-
1963
S
The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget
Jubilee
Raindrops
17
1963
LP
The Raindrops
Jubilee
Raindrops:  What a Guy/Hanky Panky/I Won't Cry/It's So Wonderful/Da Doo Ron Ron/When the Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too)/The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget/Isn't That Love/ Every Little Beat/Even Though You Can't Dance/That Boy's Messin' Up My Mind/Not Too Young to Get Married

1963
S
That Boy John

Raindrops
64
1964
S
Book Of Love

Raindrops
62
1964
S
Let's Go Together

Raindrops
-
1964
S
One More Tear

Raindrops
97
1965
S
Don't Let Go

Raindrops

1968
LP
Ellie Greenwich Composes, Produces & Sings
United Artists
Beautiful People/Baby Baby Baby/ Goodnight Goodnight/Long Time Comin'/The Sunshine After the Rain/ Niki Hoeky/The Letter/ Oh How Happy/ I'll Never Need More Than This/I Want You to Be My Baby

1968
S
Niki Hoeky
United Artists


1968
S
I Want You To Be My Baby
United Artists

83
1973
LP
Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung
Verve
Maybe I Know/Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home/Today I Met The Boy I'm Going To Marry/And Then He Kissed Me/If You Loved Me Once/ Be My Baby/What Good Is I Love You/Chapel Of Love/I Can Hear Music/Goodnight Baby-Baby I Love You/Gettin' Together/ River Deep, Mountain High

1973
S
Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home
Verve

-


*Well, accuracy wasn't the forte of ephemera such as pop charts.  Bobby didn't actually make it to the Billboard hot 100 (whereas an earlier one of hers did, under her own name: I Want You To Be My Baby - a very R'n'B song, which can be heard here).  And ironically, her erstwhile partner's aforementioned song Laura was zooming up the charts that week in 1973, in a cover by Creation which reached number 4, whereas Bobby was destined to sink without trace - apart from the memories of those who heard her sing it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Sunshine after the Rain " WAS a hit for Elkie Brooks ,1977. Produced by the legendary, Lieber & Stoller.

Anonymous said...

Sunshine after the Rain , by Elkie Brooks reached number 10 in the British charts . So a hit, most definite.

Stephen Simmonds said...

Thanks.

Fair cop. I'm too used to using the Billboard criterion, for lack of any wider standard. Is something a hit if top ten for _either_ US or UK? Or do other territories count?

There was a time where New Zealand was an appealing port of call for people who weren't hitting elsewhere - for example, Kenny Rogers and the Hollies in 1972/73. Hardly a lucrative territory, though.

And there was a time (if not several) when something could hit the top in the UK, then vanish without trace in a couple of weeks. And I remember Vanessa Amerossi (Australian) bewailing the relative paucity of returns for a hit there.

Horses for courses, I guess. And Sunshine - which I assumed at the time was Elkie's - deserved success in her hands.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.