Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lesley Gore -You Don't Own Me 7" - 1964

If you don't know who Lesley Gore is you would probably know her from her biggest hit "It's My Party", which then has the famous lyric "And I'll cry if I want to". This record has what I'm guessing was an attempt to capitalize off that hit. It is another song about a girl crying. You may recognize it because it pops up here and there because it too was a hit for her.

My love for Lesley Gore however does not stem from either of those songs. I got into Lesley because I saw her sing the happiest song ever written in the 1965 Frankie Avalon movie "Ski Party". This movie was a spin off of the beach movies and followed the same formula, but took the fun to the slopes. Annette Funicello even has a cameo and James Brown sings in the movie as well. Check it out. Anyways on the way up to the slopes all the gang are packed into a bus and Lesley Gore sings "Sunshine and Lollipops". It is and incredible short, but infectious number. I'm not posting that song here, but if you want it I suggest seeking it out. From that one performance I began reading about he and eventually got the two disc 52 song collection of her songs called "It's My Party". Many or the songs are beyond good and can actually be called great.

Lesley was sort of discovered and mentored by Quincy Jones and so many of her early singles have the Q touch. That is certainly the case with this record. Read more about that at It talks about how Quincy double tracked her vocals and made these amazing arrangements. By the way that double tracking technique is something Disney producers did with Annette Funicello as well.

For me the highlight here is "You Don't Own Me" and it is one of her greatest songs. I still love "Sunshine And Lollipops" the best, but I'm probably alone on that one. But this song "You Don't Own Me" is an amazing powerful emotional ballad of defiance. It is still completely relevant and for my money is one of the earliest girl power songs in pop/rock history. The song has this great ominous opening riff on the piano that sets the mood right off the bat. You know you are not in for your usual teen pop song. Then Lesley comes in with her "you don't own me" lyrics that sound like she's just taunting you. She seems in complete control. And then the song builds and her passionate declarations get even more emphatic that it send chills down my spine. It is such a great anthem. The chorus is a laundry list of what it means to be young free and your own person and then when you add the young empowered female aspect it is just spot on and fantastic. The lyrics are:

I don't tell you what to say
I don't tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you
I'm young and I love to be young
I'm free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please

The lyrics are great because they really work for Lesley and she really makes the song her own. They are also great because she could be singing to a boyfriend, a mother or a father. I can hear her singing it to any of these. And because of this you can apply these lyrics to yourself and sing along remembering some time where someone was trying to boss you around and "own you". you feel an amazing catharsis with Lesley as she belts these words out in the final chorus.

Anyways, my word will never do the song justice. You just have to listen and experience it yourself.


01 You Don't Own Me.mp3
02 Judy's Turn To Cry.mp3

1 comment:

EmNo said...

Lesley Gore, killin me with this.
Right up there for me with
Dianah Ross "You Keep me Hangin On"
and at the moment anything Peaches/ MIA and Kelis-- keeping along the lines of fempowerment.

Judy's turn to cry--I wish I was the girl singing that song. So sassy.

Keep em comin...