Thursday, February 21, 2008

You Don't Own Me, Lesley Gore (1964)

A youtube commenter asks, "You mean to tell me that in the sixties, teenage girls actually had to have voices and know how to sing before they had hit records?"

What a concept. Discovered singing in a hotel by the legendary producer Quincy Jones, then a producer for Mercury Records, soprano Lesley Gore had a supremely confident voice that had been honed singing in a jazz group. That voice was first shared with the world in the form of teenage girl standards It's My Party and It's Judy's Turn to Cry, which did absolutely nothing for me. Then came You Don't Own Me.

To this day, the song remains an anthem for independently-minded females everywhere. The other day I mentioned that Linda Ronstadt's Different Drum was an early feminist hit, but I'd forgotten that You Don't Own Me, performed by Gore when she was still a senior in high school, pre-dates that by several years. It was way ahead of its time, actually. (Still performing, Gore has reimagined the song with a stripped-down version on her latest release, Ever Since.)

Written by two men, John Madars and David White, the song was climbing the charts and landed at #2 the week I Want to Hold Your Hand grabbed the #1 spot and didn't let go for three weeks. I can still remember how the dramatically shifting key changes on the arrangement combined with Gore's convincing delivery affected me. I was sure I didn't want anyone to own me! Yes, I was 11, but it got under my skin.


karmasartre said...

Good one! Probabaly the most dramatic song of its era. I love the shift in mood and intensity between the verse and the chorus.

I don't know the sequence, but I would add Dionne Warwick's "Don't Make Me Over" to the body of early feminist manifestos (another one written by dos hombres).

Rikki said...


I've been wanting to get over to your blog. It fabulous and I hope to find more time to spend here! It's so odd to have the crossword world sync up with life. My husband showed me a YouTube clip that was referred to on Rex's blog an hour later. Kinda spooky.

JamesGang said...

Interesting. Recently learned that Elizabeth Gorski plays guitar and has a passion for SRV and the blues. Crosswords and music are two of my hobbies also, but just mediocre at both after many years. I always thought "You Don't Own Me" had a spectral tinge to it, kind of stayed with you. I read your post on Rex.

Linda G said...

Wendy, this one brought back many memories. Like you, I loved Lesley Gore back in the sixties. Hadn't thought much of her since then, so it was nice to see her pop up in the Mike's half of the puzzle...and again in your wonderful blog ; )