Ronnie Spector says “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” is her life

Ronnie Spector speaks about her new album "English Heart"

English Heart by Ronnie Spector, former member of the Ronettes, is a collection of songs mostly from the British Invasion period. 

Known as the rock’n’roll’s original "bad girl," Ronnie enchanted generations of fans with her unique vocals and fashion.  Beatles, Rolling Stones, and David Bowie were among the stars who fell for her.  As she speaks about her incredibly starry career, about how Rolling Stones opened for the Ronettes when they toured U.K., and about how John Lennon took her to Carnaby Street, then to a night club, and about how she found George Harrison only had canned foods at home and they all had to go out to eat, she is such a delightful speaker and still a great charmer.

When asked what her favorite track off of the album is, she answers without hesitation that it’s "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" written by the Bee Gees. "Because it’s my life," she says.  (You can hear the exchange at around 4:50.)

She says that she loves the beginning of her life ("I can think of younger days…" ) when she was making great music, having hits, and traveling around the world.  Then she married Phil Spector who was instrumental in launching the career of the Ronettes,  and "it was all taken away from me.  And my heart was broken because I couldn’t perform onstage.  I couldn’t even go out."  She was too young and naive to know what love was when she married him, she adds.  

Here Ronnie Spector takes "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart," deemed one of the more autobiographical songs by the Bee Gees and sometimes referred to by the brothers Gibb as a song about three brothers getting back together again, and makes it her own.

The record review on PopMatters cites it as one of the best tracks of the entire "English Heart" album.

Perhaps that is why the best song, and last cut on the album, is the saddest one (and the only one not to be from the British Invasion). Spector clumsily takes on the Bee Gees “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, and in this case clumsy is a compliment. The song’s narrator has been destroyed by love. When she talk/sings the intro, “I can think of younger days when living for my life…”, her trembling voice reveals the experience of age (“misty memories of days gone by”). The organ accompaniment gives the song a gospel feel, as if she’s praying to a higher power to help restore her ability to love. The original by the Bee Gees with its tight and expressive vocal harmonies showed the influence of the Ronettes and Phil Spector’s glistening Wall of Sound production. Al Green also did a notable soulful version that was impeccable in terms of Willie Mitchell’s studio wizardry and Green’s fabulous singing. Ronnie brings the song back to Earth by sounding as a soul who has known the pain of love. Her rendition may not be perfect, but it seems more honest and real. That can be said about all the covers on the new album.

This is a great review.  It could almost be about the Bee Gees themselves.  They have been known for their beautiful melody and outstanding vocal harmonies, but these qualities are but skin deep, pretty exteriors, and what shines through is their utmost sincerity.  They have always been honest and real even when they were singing sleek dance tunes.  They were by far the clumsiest superstars that ever walked or sang.  And in this case also, clumsy is a compliment!

{BGD – July 2016}

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