Ronnie Spector, Say Goodbye To Hollywood

Posted on September 29, 2010 by

Artist: Ronnie Spector & The E-Street Band
Album: 12” Promo Single of “Say Goodbye To Hollywood”
Label: Epic / Cleveland International
Released: 1977
Genre: Rock
Purchased: Charlie’s 33s and CDs, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 2010
Price: $17.99
Condition: Excellent

My first Spector record I found was called Echoes of the 60s. This was a collection of Phil’s work. I was steered to it through reading articles about Springsteen’s Born To Run. It was a collection of various singles by Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, the Crystals, Checkmates Ltd., Darlene Love, and of course, Veronica Spector, nee Bennett, and the Ronettes. The album contained the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” “Walking In The Rain,” and “Baby I Love You.”

Among all the pieces of rock candy on the album, Ronnie Spector’s had the most allure to a 16-year-old kid, born one generation too late.  This led to the purchase of a Ronettes’ Greatest Hits LP and then later a two-LP Phil Spector retrospective.

At the same time my interest in Springsteen grew. I had completed the collection of the first four Springsteen albums available at the time, but it did not satisfy my appetite. My musical vocabulary expanded with the discovery of the word bootleg. A bootleg, I learned was generally a live recording, usually of inferior quality, and illegal. These pressings were not distributed by the artists’ label and the artist did not profit from its sales. This was the music underground and I wanted in.

One of the Springsteen boots I bought was called The Great White Boss, a live recording from the Bottom Line in NYC from 1975 with a couple of bonus tracks. On the album he covered the Crystals’ “Then (S)He Kissed Me,” it was a direct connection to Phil Spector. The last track on the album was a bonus cut, recorded in a studio in 1973. A song Springsteen penned, “You Mean So Much To Me.”

I learned from a fellow Springsteen fan that Southside Johnny covered it on his I Don’t Wanna Go Home album. It was a duet with Ronnie Spector.

I almost shit in my pants.

He also informed me of this song she recorded with the E-Street band called, “Say Goodbye To Hollywood.”

I changed my pants.

He explained to me that it was a promo only release, which meant I couldn’t just go to my local independent record store and order up a copy. A promotional copy is not intended for public sale. It is put out there to taunt us and make us feel inferior to those in the record business. I hoped that maybe I’d find it on a bootleg. It had to be the most amazing song ever recorded.

There probably hasn’t been a full week in my life between 1979 and the present where I have not been in some sort of music retailer. I searched hard and heavy for that single until about 1984. That’s when, in my eyes, the man who led me to the music underground, Bruce Springsteen sold out with his Born In The USA record. He put his ass on the cover, married a model and had top 40 hits. He might as well been Billy Joel. I can’t stand Billy Joel.

So over thirty years later, I’m in Albuquerque, New Mexico at an indie store called Charley’s and I find a promo 12” of “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” by Ronnie Spector and the E-Street Band. It’s eighteen-freakin’-bucks. I haven’t seen one in thirty years. I’ve lost the passion for it but I still feel that I shouldn’t pass it up. I slap down the plastic and acquire it.

A few days later, I’m back home in St. Paul, unpacking, looking at the vinyl I brought back from New Mexico and the first platter I play is the Spector twelve inch.

Oh. My. God.

Holy. Shit.

This is awful. The fidelity is bad. It’s tinny. The E-Streeters make an attempt to sound like a band out of Spanish Harlem that Phil Spector produced, but they come across sounding worse than Sha Na Na. Ronnie’s natural vibrato sounded unnatural. It reminded me of those records that used to float around in the cut out bins; 20 of Today’s Top Hits as performed by Kings Road. It was a poor imitation of something that could be great.

The other song on the 12” was a Little Steven song called “Baby Please Don’t Go.”  It’s not a bad song, but I think my judgment of it was tainted by my overall disappointment of “Hollywood.”

So just who wrote this “Hollywood” song anyway? I looked at the credits and it was written by B. Joel. Freakin’ Billy Joel! No wonder why it sucks! I felt like a total idiot that one of my Holy Grails was written by Billy Joel.

I listened to it again and I thought it would have been a better song with Willy DeVille singing it in the hands of Jack Douglas. “Baby Please Don’t Go” should’ve been done by Dusty Springfield.

I still listen to anything Ronnie releases, as well as Springsteen. But I felt like I’ve been dealt a cosmic Nelson Muntz “Ha Ha!”

Since I’ve bought the single, I’ve seen a copy at Half Price Books in my neighborhood for a mere thirteen dollars. I actually held it in my hand and thought about buying another copy of it just because I rarely see it. That’s the sickness in me. I came to my senses and thought I should leave it for another sucker like me.

I couldn’t give it an F because it didn’t fail in holding my interest for 30 years.

Grade:

One Response to “Ronnie Spector, Say Goodbye To Hollywood”

  1. Brother Tad says:

    Ah yes — the eternal quest for Ronnie! Authoritative sources report that she recently made quite a stir with her unpublicized-in-advance performance at the Pondarosa Stomp in New Orleans.

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