On Ronnie Spector's New Album, Don't Let Her Be Misunderstood You might know her as the leader of The Ronettes, but Spector has seen and done a lot since the days of "Baby, I Love You." Her new album, English Heart, is filled with British hits from the 1960s.

On Ronnie Spector's New Album, Don't Let Her Be Misunderstood

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Ronnie Spector is part of the heart and soul of the 1960s and she's never stopped. She was the leader of The Ronettes, the girl group - we'd say women's singing enterprise these days - who gave us "Baby, I Love You" and "Be My Baby."


THE RONETTES: (Singing) Won't you please be my, be my baby. Be my little baby. My one and only baby.

SIMON: And she helped turn rock 'n' roll into a worldwide force. Ronnie Spector has a new album, hits from British artists from the '60s. It's called "English Heart." Ronnie Spector joins us now from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

RONNIE SPECTOR: Oh, hi, Scott. You're welcome. I love being here.

SIMON: Why did you want to do these songs?

SPECTOR: Well, I - obviously I was from the '60s and the British Invasion. We were right over in England when the start of it all happened when The Beatles weren't even in America yet and The Rolling Stones were our opening act, you know?

And it made me think, because when we went over there, we had so much love. I mean, we'd get off the plane and there'd be kids at Heathrow Airport. I was like, what, you know? I had that in America but not at the airport. So when I - we got to the U.K., it was - they treated us with such love and respect.

SIMON: Do I have this right? "I'd Much Rather Be With The Girls" was always meant to be your song.

SPECTOR: As a matter of fact, Keith Richards and Andrew Oldham wrote that 50 years ago when they were touring with us. And at that time, girl groups were happening, you know? So they wrote a song, "I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys." So I just changed it to "I'd Much Rather Be With The Girls," after all the stuff I've been through with the guys, I mean, you know.


THE RONETTES: (Singing) Here I am all alone and all dressed up to go, but I'd much rather be with the girls than be with you.

SPECTOR: We were all about the music and going on stage and performing. And it was just the most exciting time, for me anyway, because it was innocent. I remember having parties backstage if it was somebody's birthday and we'd get the candles and then we'd get sodas and that was our...

SIMON: (Laughter).

SPECTOR: It's true.

SIMON: That changed, didn't it, at some point?

SPECTOR: Well, it did, unfortunately.

SIMON: John Lennon showed you around in Britain?

SPECTOR: Oh, he was a darling. He showed me - he took me to Carnaby Street where they had the English boots for girls and T-boy shirts. And then at night he'd take me to the hottest nightclub - him and George Harrison 'cause George Harrison was going out with my sister at the time. And we went to this place, it was called The Elephant Club, and George called up and asked my sister to come on and meet him down there. And I'll never forget, we were sitting down at the club and they're playing all these records and The Beatles, of course, didn't know all the American records yet.

I remember George and I were singing "Mockingbird," which was a big hit in the '60s, and 'cause the guy would go mock and the girl would go king. And we did that all night. We look up and it's daylight, you know, in the club. So we ran to George Harrison's house to have breakfast. And you know what was strange (laughter)? George only had canned goods - ham and, you know, corn. I said, hey, let - yeah, then we finally went out to have a real breakfast, him and George and John and me and my sister.

SIMON: Oh, my gosh, what a memory to have.


SIMON: We want to hear a new song.


SIMON: This is "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."


SPECTOR: (Singing) Sometimes I find myself long regretting some foolish things, some little simple things I've done. But I'm just a girl whose intentions are good. Oh, baby, please don't let me be misunderstood.

SIMON: Where does this song come from?

SPECTOR: Oh, for me it came from my heart because I felt that way so many times, you know, throughout my career. It was a lot of men, you know, in the - especially in the '60s - that ruled the world, you know, the rock 'n' roll world. And I just didn't want people to - for them to misunderstand me, you know?


SPECTOR: (Singing) Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree. The joy that's hard to hide.

I love what I do. I loved all the records I did, "Be My Baby" and "Walking In The Rain." People always thought of me as - as this icon (laughter).

SIMON: Icon? Yeah, well.

SPECTOR: I'm just a girl from Spanish Harlem that loves to perform and loves to sing and get up on stage and sing for the people and look at them. If there's a cute guy out there and he might wink at me, I'll wink back. And, you know, this is what's missing from - from, I think, artists today. Nobody's close up with the audience. I love getting personal.

SIMON: So how do you feel about that title, the original bad girl of rock 'n' roll?

SPECTOR: Oh, I love it.

SIMON: (Laughter).

SPECTOR: I do because I grew up like that. And I used to watch the black girls walk with their cigarettes so cool, so street, and the Puerto Rican girls with the teased hair and the Chinese girls with the eyeliner and it was just - it's all me. And The Ronettes, when we went on stage, we didn't have choreographers or anyone, you know, like today. I mean, got dancers and choreographers and makeup artists and entourage. And we had no one. My mother toured with us. That was it...

SIMON: Oh, my.

SPECTOR: ...Which was great. It kept a lot of boys away, so (laughter).

SIMON: Yeah, yeah. Do you have a favorite song on this album?

SPECTOR: "How Could You Mend A Broken Heart" because it's my life.


SPECTOR: (Singing) How can you mend this broken girl? How can a loser ever win? Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again.

I loved the beginning of my life when I was making these big hit records and traveling the world. And then it was all taken away from me and I - my heart was broken because I couldn't perform on stage. I couldn't even go out (laughter).

SIMON: It was all taken away from you by, you mean, marriage to what's-his-name and all that potential?

SPECTOR: Well, yeah, but I don't like talking about that. It was just - I couldn't do anything once I got - was married to him. I mean, we all know where he is.

SIMON: Let's not be oblique. He is convicted of murder.

SPECTOR: Yeah, but you have to remember I met him when I was 17. I was with Phil for 12 years of my young life. So I was very naive about a lot of things.

SIMON: Yeah.

SPECTOR: You know, I just didn't know. I really - I don't think I knew what love was back then (laughter).

SIMON: Well, how are you doing now?

SPECTOR: You know something, Scott? I am so great. I feel like it's sort of the beginning for me. You know, you can start at any age that feeling of now is my time. I remember after The Beatles tour and The Rolling Stones being our opening act, they're my friends.

Everybody was making the charts, everybody was having hit record after hit record and there I was sitting in a 23-room mansion with five servants and not knowing to do - to do with any of it. I didn't even know what to do. You know, that's why I'm so thankful that I'm still here, you know, either to tell my stories or perform for the people. And I miss that most of all. Being in the recording studio and then taking it out to the audience, you know, that was my life. And it still is.


SPECTOR: (Singing) It's right. It's right to feel the way I do because, because, because, how I love you.

SIMON: Ronnie Spector - her album, "English Heart." Thanks so much for joining us.

SPECTOR: Loved every minute.


SPECTOR: (Singing) It's hard to say I don't think of you 'cause when you say these things, you know it makes me blue. Give me...

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