RIP: Pop Songstress Extraordinaire Ellie Greenwich

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Ellie Greenwich emerged as a songwriter when America itself was on the cusp of everything, a whole set of conventions unspooling under the power of rock ‘n’ roll, the civil rights movement and the incipient counterculture. Her American polyglot upbringing prepared Greenwich, who died today at age 68 of a heart attack, for what she became: one of the great sound alchemists who turned the ambiguities of youth into the essence of American pop. Able to sing, arrange and produce as well as pen indelible hits, Greenwich found her artistic home within New York’s Brill Building, where she, her husband and songwriting partner, Jeff Barry, and their peers transformed an art form without making a big deal of it. She was a natural collaborator who could match wits with control freaks like Phil Spector and totally relate to the kids in the groups who recorded her songs. She could write silly and she could write serious. But Greenwich’s key works — such classics as “Leader of the Pack,” “Chapel of Love” and “River Deep, Mountain High” as well as more obscure ones like “Out in the Streets” and “Girls Can Tell” — have a particular resonance that goes beyond catchiness or nostalgia. MORE

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