It will be included with five more songs on an EP, to be released in late spring through Genius 4Ever Records—and in both stereo and Phil Spector-preferred mono versions.
Rachelle wrote "P.S. I Love You" with producer Chris Seefried (Fitz and The Tantrums), essentially as a love song and tribute to Phil. It intentionally evokes “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” the classic No 1 hit from 1958 that he wrote and recorded with the Teddy Bears.
But she is upfront about her goal of “humanizing” her incarcerated husband, who had been largely portrayed in the media as a monster during his two trials and 2009 conviction of second-degree murder—which he continues to appeal.
“It’s obviously dedicated to Phillip,” Rachelle says. “I would always sing, 'To Know Him Is To Love Him' to him and I wanted to do something that paid homage to and showed compassion to him as a person who dealt with a tremendous amount of loss in his life, but was able to achieve so much even with all that tragedy and misfortune. And if people only knew him like I do, they would love him, too.”
She’s referring to both the song, which was inspired by the epitaph on the tombstone of Phil’s father, who committed suicide when he was nine, and to the death of his own nine-year-old son of leukemia in 1991. The project as a whole, she says, is based on love letters exchanged by the couple over the years that she decided to turn into songs.
The single additionally marks her growth an artist, Rachelle believes, noting that she was involved in the production process (the EP was produced by Seefried) as well as arranging and engineering “and building my craft.”
“I’m trying to create my own identity,” she says, contrasting the new recordings with Out of My Chelle, which while produced by Phil, was released, promoted and marketed without him.
“At that point he was already in jail and had no control over it—and felt helpless,” says Rachelle. “I go back to the first time I met him, and he said, ‘Timing is everything.’ It was a bad time for everything--even me as an individual: I didn’t know who I was at that time, with my whole world being ripped away from me. But you learn from experiences and grow and move on, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Timing being everything, then, “P.S. I Love You” and the forthcoming EP are being released at a significant time for the Spectors, who are awaiting a response to Phil’s federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus while the much-anticipated Mar. 24 debut on HBO of David Mamet’s Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino in the title role and Helen Mirren as his defense attorney in his first trial, approaches.
“I can’t prove he’s innocent or change public opinion,” Rachelle acknowledges. “I tried that once and it was a huge fail! But I can put something out there that shows him as a human being—a great man who accomplished so much and helped so many people. All I can do now is show the softer side to a man that everybody’s had such a false perception of all these years, and that’s my intention.”
She feels fortunate to have found Seefried as a collaborator.
“He’s a huge Phil Spector fan, and has grown into such an advocate of me as well,” Rachelle says.
“I’d been looking for a couple years for somebody to work with and collaborate with because of all the ideas going around in my head for a long time--which are obviously close to home for me and that I live and experience every day of my life,” she continues. “I had to find the right creative fit, with somebody who had sympathy for my situation, and also believed in Phil.”
Meanwhile, Rachelle is in “the beginning stages” of developing a musical about her husband’s life.
“It’s another goal of mine,” she says. “I’m the link to his legacy, and it’s so important to me that his legacy lives on and doesn’t get swallowed up by an incident that has nothing to do with his talent and craft.”
She’s inevitably asked how her husband is holding up.
“He’s hanging in there,” she says. “I still shlep to see him every weekend, because I have to keep his spirits up.”
Marriage, Rachelle Spector concludes, is “for better or worse.”
“We’ve been together almost 10 years,” she notes. “I signed up for the long haul.”
[The Examiner has written liner notes for Phil Spector CD reissues.]
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