Monday, November 26, 2007

"It's Very Difficult, Very Difficult to Be Resonable" Book Excerpt

From: Tearing Down the Wall of Sound by Mick Brown

I had wanted to post another book excerpt some time ago, but real life crept back in and I had to get back to sewing. I'm taking a little break here, to post a long excerpt from Chapter 29, pages 384-389.

The following is from the interview Mick did with Spector, two months before Lana's murder.
His wristwatch spoke. "It's four o'clock."

Who, I asked, had been the greatest love of his life?

He looked away in silence. "Good friends," he said. "It's been Lenny; it's been John . . . It's been my friends and my little boy Phillip was probably the greatest love of my life."

Both John and Lenny, he said, were like brothers. "John--it was the perfect marriage. Just perfect. He loved the way I worked. He loved the way I thought. We just loved each other."

And Lenny?

"Lenny was like an older brother. I recorded him, supported him when he couldn't work--when they wouldn't allow him to work, and I buried him when he died. Losing Lenny and John was like losing my dad. Very, very emotional. Although I was too young to understand the value of losing my dad. Old enough to feel the loss, but not old enough to appreciate the loss until I was much older, and then I realized."

He fell silent.

"But you just learn to put things in perspective . . ." he said at last. "It's like those records; they were the greatest love of my life when I was making them. I lived for those records. I lived and breathed those records. That's why I never had relationships with anybody that could last. They were my life; they were more important than anything. Nothing competed with them." He paused, bewilderment flickering in his face. "That's why I can't figure out why they have so little significance to me today."

I asked about his three adopted children__Donte, Gary and Louis--and his face became a mask.

"I see them occasionally, but I don't have a close relationship with them; I don't pretend to. We're friends. But the only relationship I have with my children is with Nicole, with whom I'm very close. You have to have children when you're ready to have children. It's like anything. If I had made these records when I was forty, I would have bee able to handle it a lot better. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing. I knew what I was doing artistically, but I didn't know what I was doing emotionally or physically. I couldn't answer any of the questions; I didn't know what I was doing. So I certainly didn't know anything about having children or relationships."

He made no mention of his first marriage, to Annette Merar. Nor of Janis Zavala, the person who, more than anyone, had loved and cared for Spector over the past thirty years. And when I asked about Ronnie, he could not even bring himself to speak her name.

"Not to get on a dissertation about ex-wives and shit like that. But wives and marriage isn't a word, it's a sentence; and wives last through our marriage, ex-wives last forever, and all that other bullshit. No disrespect, but I haven't spoken to my ex-wife in more than thirty years; I couldn't give a shit whether she lives or dies. I've been vindicated in the courts over and over. But she can still get up forty years later and sing the same fucking song and get applause. Could a typist do that? Could a stenographer? Look at it this way; I also recorded Tina Turner. She's not complaining; she's not suing anybody. Is it my fault that this ex-wife is not Tina Turner? Maybe it has something to do with a lack of talent there that she can't get justification in the courts. Maybe the courts should say, 'You should be more talented,' but they can't say that. Maybe she's not Diana Ross, Tina Turner. I made her famous, and she resents that. But give it up, for God's sake. I don't want anybody to thank me. I just say, "Why say, "Fuck you." ' Just leave me alone! 'Oh, but he's a control freak . . .'

"If you come down to what people really hate about Phil Spector, it's that he controls everything . . ."

Did he care, I asked, what people thought of him?

"Very much. What's very important to me is respect, that people respect me, respect what I did, and think that I'm the best at what I do. Other than that, I don't care . . ."

And did he think he had been a good person?

The question stopped him for a moment. "Reasonable," he said at last. "Reasonably good. I mean I haven't done anything. . ." The thought went to silence.

"It's funny--there isn't anybody who has touched me who hasn't had some sort of success with me; anyone who has touched me in the business who hasn't made money; anyone at all. Not that it means anything, but it's interesting. Because you hear such negative shit that people say, and yet everyone of them has achieved some sort of success with me. So, yeah, yeah . . . good person."

He paused, lost in thought. "My daughter sometimes asks me, 'Dad, are you lonely?' And I say, 'Why do you ask me that?' And she says, 'Because you're alone a lot of the time, and you keep to yourself and you don't tell much about yourself.' And I say, 'Well, there's a difference between being alone and lonely.' I am alone, but I'm not lonely. I've talked to women about relationships, and I've heard what they wanted, and I walked away saying, 'Gee . . . That's what she wants in a relationship?' And I've thought, I don't know what I want in a relationship, but I know one thing; I want a hell of a lot more than that. And maybe I can't find it with anyone. I'm not searching; I'm not looking for a relationship, because maybe it's not there.

"I've got to learn to have a relationship with me and feel comfortable with me, doing what I'm doing and what I'm about. I would feel comfortable, as corny as it sounds having a good relationship with myself. It's what I've always wanted. For forty fucking years. A decent relationship with myself. A reasonable relationship with myself.

"I'm not going to ever be happy. Happiness isn't on. Because happiness is temporary. Unhappiness is temporary. Ecstasy is temporary. Orgasm is temporary. Everything is temporary. But being reasonable is an approach. And being reasonable with yourself. It's very difficult, very difficult to be reasonable."

. . .

Had any of his years of therapy been of any help?

"Not enough." He shrugged. "I don't know. There's something I'd either not accepted, or I'm not prepared to accept or live with in my life, that I don't know about perhaps. That I'm facing now. I didn't want it to be because of Nicole. I want it to be because of me. I want to get back in the record business because of me. I don't want to be like these people . . . 'I found the woman of my dreams; I'm going to be so happy, blah, blah, blah.' I made this commitment to me. I want to change for me. I want to try and have a reasonable existence, and if I can't, I can't. So I've been experimenting with medication that I think would help, and not interfere with my creative process and my thinking process, and it's been very slow, very difficult." He paused. "I couldn't have done this conversation six months ago."

Six years ago?

"Absolutely not."

Sixteen years ago?

"Maybe under false pretenses, but probably no. I wouldn't have even thought of it. I was completely . . . I was another person. I'm a completely different person that I was three months ago, six months ago, nine months ago. I am constantly evolving, constantly changing."

Even now, he said, it was difficult for him to have a meeting like this.

"I can't stand to be talked about. I can't stand to be looked at. I can't stand the attention. I don't defend myself. I don't defend others. I decided many years ago that I wasn't going to make any public statements. I'm a diabetic and as a young child I was told I could never eat chocolate and drink Coca-Cola, so I have great willpower. And it takes a tremendous amount of willpower to abstain from commenting. I commented my heart out in the '60s. I controlled everything. I was a control freak." He laughed.

"I don't like talking about the past. I don't even like meeting people from the past. It's difficult for me. I have a difficult time. Reunions . . . troublesome for me; very troublesome." It was only recently that he had been able to start bringing his old friends back into his life. "A lot of my enemies are dying off, which is a shame because they define me in so many ways."

So who were his closest friends?

He thought for a moment. "My attorneys," he said and laughed. Neither of us could have imagined at that moment just how prescient that statement would be.

. . .

Spector was still not drinking. but shortly before Christmas, he was involved in an accident that was to change things.

He was driving himself to visit a friend at her home in Beverly Hills, according to one source. Near his destination, Spector ran off the road and hit a fire hydrant. The car was undriveable. Shaken, Spector walked the rest of the way to the friend's house, where he poured himself a drink. By the time his driver arrived to collect him, Spector had to be helped to the car.

In January, Starsailor began giving interviews to plug the release of Silence is Easy. Asked about Phil Spector's participation in the record, the bass player James Stelfox was quoted as saying that Spector showed Starsailor "how records used to be made" and they had shown him how recordings were made today. How that must have hurt.

At the same time word began to leak out that Paul McCartney would shortly be releasing a remixed version of Let It Be, shorn of all Spector's additions and embellishments, and entitled Let It Be . . . Naked. After thirty-five years McCartney had finally gotten his revenge.

On February 1, 2003, my interview with Phil Spector was published in the Telegraph magazine. The cover line read "Found! Rock's Lost Genius." Thirty-six hours later, Phil Spector walked into the House of Blues and met Lana Clarkson.