Behind the Beehive

Last week began with a super-fun research trip to Miami and ended with my cat Pumpkin requiring emergency surgery. I was born with the inability to handle trauma, so while I should have carried on updating Cha Cha Charming and attempting to resume my life as normal, I’ve been paralysed with sorrow and playing cat care-taker 24/7, tending to Pumpkin’s every need in hopes of nursing her back to health. She has a major infection on the left side of her face, which has paralyzed her left eye. The surgical site is ghastly, and she has to wear one of those horrible cones for the next two weeks and be given heavy doses of anti-Bs. I’m told this infection may just be the tip of the iceberg. Ugh.

Thankfully, a much-needed break from cat duties came on Monday night with Ronnie Spector’s one-woman show, Behind the Beehive. We were seated next to the most adorable Ronnie look-a-like, who wore her hair in a massive black bouffant, with a little lace top and gingham capri pants. Ronnie’s back-up singers noticed her from the stage, and excitedly pointed her out. I had seen Ronnie’s Christmas show a number of times, but this was a far more personal affair. Ronnie alternated stories of her life’s ups and downs with a two-hour set of classics and covers. It was devastating to learn that we wouldn’t be hearing “Be My Baby” or “Baby I Love You.” With a mug shot of Phil Spector projected onto the screen above, Ronnie explained that for a scripted show (as opposed to a concert), she needed publishing clearance from Spector and he refused to grant it. You could hear the horror in the room’s silence. 

Whereas most rock stars try to conceal or downplay their downfalls, Ronnie spoke candidly about her struggles with Phil, booze (she loved rehab–it was the first time she felt free since being locked away in the Spector mansion), and her ongoing battle to be recognized as an artist. You could feel her anger when she explained how badly girl groups were treated in the ’60s. They were considered work-for-hire, interchangeable, and replaceable. The men called the shots and the music business denied them their rightful status as artists. She worked to get the work-for-hire laws changed, and in doing so finally received some of the record royalties that Spector had withheld for so many years. Much of the script was taken from her autobiography, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, but hearing the stories in her own voice, sometimes strong, often tinged with sadness and vulnerability, added an emotional dimension that no words could convey. She regularly had to dip into her tissue box and dab her eyes. It was incredibly moving.

The audience erupted when she launched into her favorite Ronettes song, “Walking in the Rain” and an adorable version of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby.” “Brian Wilson wrote that song for us,” she explained. “But Phil refused to let us record it.” The audience hissed. We also heard the Ronettes’ pre-Spector “He Did It,” the Rolling Stones “Time Is On My Side,” and her single for Apple Records, “Try Some Buy Some” (“I still don’t know what that song’s about,” she said). She was in perfect voice. Her “woah-oh-oh-ohs” were heart-melting. She sounded exactly like she does on the records. I can’t recall one off note. It was magic, the very best medicine. 

One Response to Behind the Beehive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *