I am indebted to Brian Boyd of the Irish Times (in his Friday ‘Revolver’ column) for the unwelcome notice that Ellie Greenwich died recently on August 26th). I am of the age-group that carries around in my head many of her wonderful compositions and who finds himself humming them or whistling them at odd moments practically every day. Songs like ‘Be my Baby’, ‘River Deep, Mountain High’,’ The Leader of the Pack’ (who could ever forget those motorcycle revs!), ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ and the Dixie Cups’ ‘The Chapel of Love’. She was an extraordinary artist by any standards and her songs, especially those coupled with Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’, made an indelible impression on a generation. If you believe as I do that ‘culture’ is everything we do, hear, say, taste, feel every day, then Ellie must be one of the greatest contributors to ‘mass culture’ ever. Go to any moderately good caberet or floor show and you’ll hear some of her songs amongst the fare. I heard somewhere that she got her first big break when she turned up for an audition ahead of Carol King (another great, great, great 60’s songwriter). It was lucky break for everyone!
What a great lady. What a great loss. She was, in Brian Boyd’s words ‘the queen of the three-minute 45 rpm pop record’. What a lot of happiness she leaves behind. Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam. [May her soul be at the right hand of God].