The challenge to Pick 3 from Lesley Gore turns out to be easy for me… how about “You Don’t Own Me” three times! If anyone has a cutting-edge song, it would be Lesley and this defiant, quasi-threatening proclamation of female independence from the early 1960s.
This song, with lyrics ranging from a relatively quiet “you don’t own me” to a more definitive ‘DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO” was her very best recording, and it served as an early harbinger that times were-a-changin’ – women were drawing lines. Leslie’s not saying ‘leave me alone’, she’s simply saying, quite clearly, ‘hold on there, buster’. Just listen…
At 16 years old, Lesley’s talent caught the attention of Quincy Jones at Mercury Records. He produced her first hits (‘It’s My Party’ and ‘Judy’s Turn to Cry’) as well as ‘She’s a Fool’ and finally ‘You Don’t Own Me’ – all of which were million sellers. Add ‘Maybe I Know’ to this list and you have her best 5 recordings.
Lesley was a super star during the early American Bandstand days, and everyone knew and sang the lyrics to all her songs. If you grew up during the period, then you fully understand how her music was an absolute ‘must’ for a properly designed dance party or, more specifically, Make Out Party.
Even though Lesley was a teen sensation at 16, she was smart, independent, and headed off to complete her college education. She attended the exceptionally rigorous & academically challenging all-girls (at the time) Sarah Lawrence College. I have no idea what her major was but I suspect it included at least a dash of Finance, since million sellers tend to require familiarity with figures.
While all of her five best recordings speak of conflicted relationships, it seems likely that Lesley left any and all conflicted relationships behind her once she met Lois Sasson, her long term partner.
Lois was the person who was by Lesley’s side at the very end and orchestrated the announcements and final arrangements. No ‘inside’ information here about their relationship, but there is every reason to believe that Lesley and Lois were very happy together.
As far as actually picking Leslie’s top 3, I can’t decide what my second choice would be, so here’s my two choices that are tied for second place… ‘She’s a Fool’and ‘Maybe I Know’. Enjoy them both.
Let me know what you think…Let me know what you remember… Let me know what you feel…
R.I.P. LESLEY GORE (February 16, 2015)