There are a lot of good stories about Phil Ramone and all the stars he recorded. There are some coming in now on Twitter, and more to be told this week. One story not in his book which we had recently discussed was about the late Phoebe Snow. We were reminiscing about Phoebe, both in agreement that she had had tbe single best voice of her generation. Phoebe’s life changed after having a huge debut album in 1974, self-titled, and a follow up that was so-so. At that point she’d given birth to daughter Valerie, who had multiple defects. Her career–artistically and financially–was a mess.
Phil recorded Phoebe’s third album, “It Feels Like Snow.” Valerie’s picture is on the cover. Phil created a couple of Phoebe’s standards on it, including a remake of “Teach Me Tonight” that stands as a towering recording. He knew she was a jazz singer, even if she railed against it. A year later, Phil was making “Still Crazy After All These Years” with Paul Simon. Bette Midler was supposed to sing on a track called “Gone at Last.” But either Atlantic, her label, wouldn’t give her permission, or something else went wrong.
Phoebe, meantime, was bankrupt and sinking under the weight of raising Valerie on her own. “I saved her,” Phil told me. “It was lucky that it worked out.” He convinced Paul to put Phoebe on “Gone at Last.” The result was a hit single And it bought Phoebe some more time to care for Valerie at home.
Hard to believe–now they are all gone–Phoebe, Valerie, and Phil. I know that Phoebe is driving Phil crazy right now, probably about making another record.