It was an "awww" moment for me this morning when I learned of the passing of Ellie Greenwich. You probably know her name, you unquestionably know her work. If you've spent any time at all listening to the great hits in the years leading up to the British Invasion, probably 80% of the songs you've enjoyed were the work of about four or so songwriting teams. Ellie Greenwich and her husband Jeff Barry were one of them. It's not practical, and probably not even necessary, to list her hits here. Our lives touched once, sorta-kinda, in the most indirect way possible, and it was a small, strange experience I've always found oddly heartwarming.
Years ago, my wife and I belonged to a group of sign language students who, in the spare time we seemed to have in those days, used to get together at our house to work out signed renditions of various popular songs. (I'll put our "Chipmunk's Christmas Song" next to anyone's.) At one point we were working on "Leader of the Pack'" and, as often happened before Al Gore invented the Internet, had a disagreement over one part of the lyrics we were listening to. (Ok, we all agreed on the lyrics except for one of us who had an absurd interpretation of one line that I would even now be embarrassed to say.) I knew that Ellie Greenwich worked out of New York, and thought if I could look up her office address, we could drop her a "note" (a primal form of written communication that existed before e-mails that younger readers can ask their grandparents about) and settle the lyric question. What I found in the NY telephone book was a phone number with no address listed, which I took to mean Ms. Greenwich worked out of a home office. (One of the advantages of working in a profession that doesn't involve large industrial machines, I suppose.) I'll say a lot of things to a lot of different people, but even in those days there was no way I was going to call a famous songwriter at home and ask her about a lyric she'd written 30 years before. Another much bolder member of our group made the call and got to speak to her. Explaining our dilemma, my friend asked what the line after "One day my dad said 'Find someone new' " was. Pausing a moment to think, singing through the lyrics and, most of all, exhibiting enormous kindness, she responded that it was, "I had to tell my Jimmy we're through." My friend thanked her profusely and reported back to us.
I've sometimes wondered what Ms. Greenwich thought of that strange phone call, in the unlikely event she thought of it at all; when you've got her list of accomplishments, things like that probably don't stand out. For those of us on the other end of the phone, however - older now certainly, and perhaps a little wiser - it was a memory, and a happy one at that.
A good bit of the early part of this week was spent in some pain due to an earache. It's a recurring thing I've more or less adjusted to but, unlike the ones before, this one didn't go away after a day. After three days of acetamitaphin (I don't think there are any extra "ita's" in there, but I could be wrong) and some homeopathic (Latin for "expensive and doesn't work very well") stuff I got at the drugstore, I was getting desperate.
Enter the Internet. According to, well, I don't know who but it was on the Internet so it must be true, a good treatment for some of the more common forms of earaches is to apply the liquid from a garlic clove to the inner ear. (My wife had suggested warm olive oil and, after reading the garlic suggestion, I though about just pouring some Italian dressing down my ear canal, but couldn't find any in the house.) Not experienced in this type of remedy but desperate for some relief, I got out the garlic press and gave it a try. I made two discoveries:
- If you're ever given a choice between putting either garlic in your ear, or the fires of hell, go with the fires. It will burn less.
- I woke up the next morning, and every morning since, free of ear pain. (I hate it when stuff that hurts so much works.)
Here Comes Treble
An entry or two ago I wrote about the tattoo my son James got. Now my son Jacob has joined the club. His is a g-clef, about 4 inches or so in height, on his right shoulder blade. I don't have a picture yet, but will post one when it's available.
I mentioned this to a (non-tattooed) friend today, and she told me of an interesting question she'd once been asked: if a law were passed saying you HAD to get a tattoo, what would you get and where? I'm still considering the question, and would welcome anyone who cares to sharing their answer. Could be wonderfully revealing.