Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Phil Spector's Wall of Sounds like Bipolar to me...

It has been six years since Phil Spector, the once brilliant music production prodigy, was arrested for killing a young actress in his backyard swimming pool. The ensuing trials were surreal more than tabloid due to Spector's bizarre behavior.

Phil Spector arrived at court dressed strangely, or with his curly hair grown long and teased out into a huge shock of an afro. He refused to speak, he behaved oddly, to say the least, and listened to testimony from former dates and girlfriends who talked about his erratic moods, violent outbursts, irrational thinking, physical abuse, risky behavior (including a penchant for playing Russian roulette), a fascination with guns, and an admitted problem "dealing with the demons" in his head.

Phil Spector changed American pop music forever. His trademark Wall of Sound became the signature of Motown Music. His production influence and talent for understanding the most subtle nuances of writing and arranging were unsurpassed for years, and as a result, he worked with some of the biggest names in music, including the amazing Darlene Love and Leonard Cohen. Eventually, he had destroyed so many relationships and threatened to kill so many people that his career lay in shambles before he was 40.

By the time he was 35, Spector was prone to long periods of reclusive behavior. Phil Spector's father suffered from chronic depression and committed suicide when Phil was nine years old. Phil's sister suffered from serious mental illness and was eventually committed. As if that didn't indicate predisposition for problems, in the early 1970s, Spector suffered a severe head injury when he was ejected through the windshield of his car in a near-fatal car accident. The frontal lobe is not a good place for an injury, particularly in someone who is already volatile and possibly lacking judgment.

And so it is that Mr. Spector was convicted of second-degree murder today. While the world focused on his brilliant creative talent and business skills, then joked about his erratic and eccentric behavior, it seems that nobody thought to look at all of the pieces together. That's unfortunate, if you ask me. Given the big picture, I'd say bipolar disorder or something like it is crystal clear.

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