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You Don't Own Me
September 13, 2011 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Quincy Jones sat in the Tenafly, New Jersey den of 16-year-old vocal student Lesley Gore, playing demo after demo, looking for the right song to cut for her first record. Out of over 200 tapes, Jones and Gore had moved only one to the "maybe" pile, and so that song, It's My Party, was recorded on March 30, 1963 in a Manhattan studio. After the session Mercury president Irving Green warned Gore not to get her hopes up, but Gore gratefully told him that it had been a great experience anyway, and it was okay if he didn't want to release it. However, later that evening Jones learned that Phil Spector had just recorded "It's My Party" for The Crystals, so Jones rushed back to the studio to press 100 test copies of the single and immediately mailed them to key radio stations across the country.

A week later, Gore heard her version of "It's My Party" for the first time listening to a New York radio station while riding in a car on the way to school. In a month, the song was #1, fans were camping on her lawn, and Gore was a star. She was a junior in high school. It was Quincy Jones' first hit record as a producer.

A sequel, Judy's Turn to Cry, soon followed, along with a string of teen-girl vignettes like Maybe I Know, She's a Fool, and That's the Way That Boys Are. But tastes were quickly changing in 1963, and what was perhaps Gore's finest song -- You Don't Own Me -- could only reach #2, behind I Want to Hold Your Hand. (Given the complementary themes of the two songs, perhaps they were meant to be together.)

In 1964 Gore was invited to perform on the T.A.M.I. Show, an ambitious concert featuring the Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, and others. Here is Gore's full performance in the movie, but if you click just one link in this post, study her rendition of You Don't Own Me.

This turned out to be Gore's peak, however. Despite the many television and movie offers coming her way, she chose to concentrate on her education, attending Sarah Lawrence College and limiting her public life to weekends and vacations. By the time Gore graduated, the music scene had changed drastically, and she was having a hard time finding an audience. Her last single to reach the Top 20 was California Nights in 1967.

Still, Lesley Gore had 11 Top-40 singles before her 21st birthday, and managed to fit in numerous TV perfomances, including a 1966 perfomance as Pussycat on Batman. Combined with the breadth of her lesser-known material, she is possibly one of the most underrated and misunderstood singers of the Sixties, and in 2005, although she'd never kept it a secret, Gore revealed she was not exactly attracted to boys.
posted by swift (69 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite

 
Turn on my V.C.R., same one I've had for years
James Brown on the Tammy show,
Same tape I've had for years
I sit in my old car, same one I've had for years
Old battery's running down, it ran for years and years

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:28 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A fine post, but how could you miss the earwormiest of Lesley Gore's earworms? I present: "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows". You'll thank me one day.
posted by ourobouros at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


Gore's pitch perfect sugar pop is enough to rot teeth. It is wonderful. (I've always liked Judy's Turn To Cry, jealous spite never sounded so upbeat!)
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Shudder to Think's interpretation of You Don't Own Me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:31 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Astounding post.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:32 AM on September 13, 2011


You Don't Own Me is a ball fiery, self-empowering rage that doesn't deserve a fade-out ending.
posted by basicchannel at 10:32 AM on September 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


a ball fiery, self-empowering rage

I guess that's what Eminem saw in it. Loved hearing that on his last album.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:39 AM on September 13, 2011


jealous spite never sounded so upbeat!
With all due respect to Ms. Gore, ORLY?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:39 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love me some musical spite.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:41 AM on September 13, 2011


I present: "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows". You'll thank me one day.

Yessir, looks like we got ourselves an old-fashioned car chase!
posted by Aquaman at 10:41 AM on September 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I love this passage about Lesley Gore.
posted by josher71 at 10:43 AM on September 13, 2011


It's worth hearing the slow burn of 'Ever Since', the title track off her 2005 album, written by the equally incredible (but in a totally different way) singer-songwriter Mike Errico.
posted by evadery at 10:47 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also love that Leslie Gore recorded "You Don't Own Me" in Italian, German, and French.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:50 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It never occurred to me to check up on whatever became of Lesley Gore. I'm glad to hear she's doing all right for herself these days.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on September 13, 2011


What a cool story! Thx for th' post.
posted by hot_monster at 10:56 AM on September 13, 2011


For some reason, I can't help but hear You Don't Own Me done by The Kinks right now in my head.
posted by theichibun at 11:01 AM on September 13, 2011


Some lateral browsing on youtube and I find Dalidas version of You Don't Own Me.
posted by joost de vries at 11:14 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


stupidsexyFlanders: I guess that's what Eminem saw in it. Loved hearing that on his last album.

Wha-what? Oh, he sampled it -- I thought you meant he covered it. Interesting, all the same.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:20 AM on September 13, 2011


(Warning: NSFW lyrics!)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:21 AM on September 13, 2011


I don't know the last time I got this addicted to a song. I mean, I've heard "You Don't Own Me" before, but I'd never paid any attention to it. The verse is like the audio equivalent of everything Tarantino is going for in his movies. And the chorus is just... well y'all are listening to it. I'm out of superlatives. Great post, again.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:22 AM on September 13, 2011


Weird, for some reason I had the idea in my head that she had killed herself.
posted by Theta States at 11:24 AM on September 13, 2011


That Pussycat clip ends with words to live by: "I'm not the kind of girl to kiss a boy on the first crime."
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:30 AM on September 13, 2011


I love watching Jan and Dean doing the intros on the T.A.M.I. Show. They might as well be saying "and here's yet another group that's about to knock us out of the charts and ensure that we'll only ever be a footnote in the history of Rock and Roll: The Rolling Stones!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:31 AM on September 13, 2011


While we're talking covers of 'You Don't Own Me', check out Rasputina's.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:32 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the chorus is just...

I usually go with "transcendant."
posted by swift at 11:33 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always liked her version of Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap).
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:53 AM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking of musical spite...
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:54 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dutch language '80s cover of You Don't Own Me.
posted by joost de vries at 12:01 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Joan Jett.
posted by swift at 12:08 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've loved "Maybe I Know" since i heard They Might Be Giants do it in 1989. They even recorded a version for Flood, but it never saw the light of day.
posted by mykescipark at 12:09 PM on September 13, 2011


Leslie's version is one of my all-time favorite songs, but I also like You don't Nomi.
posted by bitslayer at 12:28 PM on September 13, 2011


Post script: Some time later she invented the Internet.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:29 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this post (and my cold medication), in my fevered imagination Quincy Jones & Phil Spector are agents of Order & Chaos (respectively) locked in a war for the soul of Rock & Roll (and humanity) whose chosen field of battle is producing records. I WANT TO SEE THIS TV SHOW!

Other random observations:

Mental Wimp's link to the Rolling Stones on Ready Steady Go--Holy shit, Mick Jagger is just oozing Hot Sex there. Now I kinda see what the big deal was about him in terms of sex appeal.

Joan Jett covering Leslie Gore makes me wonder if they, ever, you know, might have met at some point and, you know, . . . I'll be in my bunk.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:35 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Leslie Gore has always been my go to person that suggests that her own talent and skill worked despite of the Svengalis. She's genius,
posted by PinkMoose at 12:44 PM on September 13, 2011


Okay, so a long time ago I was working in a summer job at my dad’s place. The accountant, Fred, was perusing the payroll record one day when he suddenly pointed to a name and said, “… and I’ll cry if I want to!” Folks looked at the list, and saw the name that triggered Fred’s outburst: Chris McClarty.

It’s hell working with people who go on to be professional comedians
posted by scruss at 12:47 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Quincy Jones gave us Leslie Gore, and now he parties with Marvin Minsky. 'Cool' doesn't even begin to describe it.
posted by grounded at 1:25 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gore's You Don't Own Me is just so much deeper and more revolutionary than anything the Beatles ever did.
posted by jamjam at 1:29 PM on September 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


What a great post! I had no idea that she was Quincy's first. That makes it even more fascinating.
posted by caddis at 1:37 PM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


A fantastic post. Interesting that "It's My Party" was Quincy's first hit and Amy Winhoue's last commercial recording.
posted by exogenous at 1:47 PM on September 13, 2011


Anybody ever mash this up w/Just a Perfect Day? I think it might work, and be really fucked up.
posted by symbioid at 2:16 PM on September 13, 2011


or........ maybe not. tempo and pitch changes would need to be made, hrmm...
posted by symbioid at 2:17 PM on September 13, 2011


Gore's You Don't Own Me is just so much deeper and more revolutionary than anything the Beatles ever did.

Seriously, this is an awesome post. I don't know if there's a best-of-Metafilter tag, but this deserves it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2011


Gore's pitch perfect sugar pop is enough to rot teeth. It is wonderful. (I've always liked Judy's Turn To Cry, jealous spite never sounded so upbeat!)

It's my party is pretty sad.

Love her!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:44 PM on September 13, 2011




You Don't Own Me is a ball fiery, self-empowering rage that doesn't deserve a fade-out ending.

This. The top 40 version is perfect until the fade ending, when it should really crash into a wall of gasoline soaked electric guitars.
posted by localroger at 5:12 PM on September 13, 2011


James Brown on the Tammy show,

TAMI Show, dude.

(look it up)
posted by jonmc at 5:28 PM on September 13, 2011


Slamming post, swift!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:38 PM on September 13, 2011


I know I'm nthing others here, but THIS is what a metafilter post should look like in a metafilter textbook. Well-researched, well-written, and takes a subject that most (excuse the presumption) would find only mildly interesting and frames it into something fascinating. You win a barnstar, swift, even if this is not Wikipedia.
posted by mreleganza at 6:34 PM on September 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


But is she related, somehow, to Al, or Gore Vidal, for that matter?
Great post. Yes.
posted by emhutchinson at 7:00 PM on September 13, 2011


Al Gore and Gore Vidal are actually like second cousins I think, but those old political families all inter-wed.

(according to a very quick google search, no they are not cause Gore is not her birth name.)
posted by The Whelk at 7:03 PM on September 13, 2011


(er it's a stage name, rather)
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on September 13, 2011


God that live version!
posted by infinitewindow at 7:20 PM on September 13, 2011


it's a stage name

Lesley was born Goldstein but her father restored the original Russian family name of Gore when she was very young.
posted by swift at 7:22 PM on September 13, 2011


Kudos on a fantastic post. I first heard Gore's Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows when it was used on the soundtrack for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and I immediately fell in love with the song.

Speaking of which, the French and German versions of "You Don't Own Me" completely reverse the sentiment of the song, turning it into a run of the mill "don't leave me"-type ballad. Her french accent is pretty good, too, so I'm guessing she knew what she was singing. Wonder what she thought about it, though.
posted by ooga_booga at 8:12 PM on September 13, 2011


BTW, wasn't there a scene in, hmmm... the Simpson's, maybe, where Homer wants to rock out in the car but the tape he pops in by mistake is "sunshine, lollipops and rainbows..."?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:17 PM on September 13, 2011


That would be Marge on the Lam, Flapjax.
posted by swift at 8:25 PM on September 13, 2011


Hey, they don't call you "swift" fer nuthin'!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:28 PM on September 13, 2011


What? What?!! NO MENTION OF FAME???? The lyrics she wrote for "Out Here On My Own" and "Hot Lunch Jam"?

That's it. You're out of the Glee Club. And the Dance Club.
posted by jeanmari at 9:27 PM on September 13, 2011


Yes, you have to turn in your leg warmers, too.
posted by jeanmari at 9:33 PM on September 13, 2011


I'm very fond of this version from noted Terrible (but unexpectedly atmospheric) Teen Thriller, The Woods.

Which you should all see, purely for the presence of Patricia Clarkson and Bruce Campbell in the same movie. As a bonus though, Bruce Campbell and crazy trees! That is always a winning combination.
posted by pseudonymph at 9:54 PM on September 13, 2011


Not long ago I went to see Phil Ramone (Jones's collaborator at the time) speak and he related this story. For several days Jones and Ramone went quiet out of fear for Spector's wrath. It's crazy how industrial the record business used to be.
posted by dagosto at 5:14 AM on September 14, 2011


Gore's You Don't Own Me is just so much deeper and more revolutionary than anything the Beatles ever did.
Those who most obstinately oppose the most widely-held opinions more often do so because of pride than lack of intelligence. They find the best places in the right set already taken, and they do not want back seats.

François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
posted by y2karl at 4:06 PM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


They find the best places in the right set already taken, and they do not want back seats.

The eternal question "Which seat should I take?" was apparently answered more than 300 years ago.
posted by grouse at 5:35 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone please write a Gor version of You Don't Own Me?
posted by Theta States at 6:31 AM on September 15, 2011


Can someone please write a Gor version of You Don't Own Me?

This is Metafilter: Be careful what you wish for.

----

You so own me, I'm only one of your many toys
You so own me, you make me kneel for other boys

You will tell me what to do
Do tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Make me your proud display, 'cause

You so own me, you're sure to change me in every way
You so own me, tie me up so I'll always stay

Oh, you will tell me what to say
You will tell me what to do
Don't just let me be myself
Make me a slave for you

I'm young such a gift to be young
I'm a slave, I don't need to be free
To live according to your will
To say and do only what you please

A-a-nd always tell me what to do
Oh-h-h always tell me what to say
And please, when I fall short for you
Make my shame your display

You will tell me what to say
Oh-h-h-h do tell me what to do
don't just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you

I'm young such a gift to be young
I'm a slave, I don't need to be free
To live according to your will

---

For those who have not dipped a toe into the nauseating quagmire that are the Gor novels, the "young x to be young" refrain actually dovetails perfectly with a theme John Norman repeats ad nauseum that the gift of immortality treatment more than makes up for the rest of the crap you go through living on Gor. And the transcendant melody actually reflects the way many real masochists perceive their activities.

And I am so going to Hell for doing this.
And I will haunt you forever if you actually record this and don't credit me.
AND GIVE ME A GODDAMN COPY.

posted by localroger at 7:15 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


well that made my day!
posted by Theta States at 3:24 PM on September 18, 2011


Pleased to be of service, Theta.

You wouldn't know what the weather has been like in Hell recently, would you?
posted by localroger at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2011


What a great post! I had no idea that she was Quincy's first. That makes it even more fascinating.

First recording artist that he produced ? Nuh uh. I know from memory alone that is not true. Quincy Jones and His Orchestra were on the labels of several 45s of hers that my brother owned when I was a wee sprite.

And, boy, if you want to put Lesley Gore over the Beatles, that is one thing. But Dinah Washington ? Ha! As if.....
posted by y2karl at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2011


first hit single according to the Wikipedia article
sorry for any confusion
posted by caddis at 2:08 PM on September 21, 2011


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