Posted by purplemary54 on February 16, 2015
Lesley Gore was one of the classic voices from Rock/Pop in the 1960s. She sang songs from a teenage girl’s point of view, songs about love and heartbreak as only a teenage girl could see it. But what made Gore’s music different was that it was rooted in realism. It wasn’t just melodramatic sap or fantasy romance. It was the kind of stuff that girls dealt with all the time. Her characters fell for boys, lost them to other girls, got them back. They knew the truth about their guys’ flaws, but loved them anyway. These were realistic relationships–the kind I still saw being played out when I was a teenager in the 80s, and that probably still get played out in high school hallways today. Listeners could identify with Lesley Gore’s songs because they lived them.
Her biggest hit was “It’s My Party,” and it’s a cracker. Catchy and emotional. Name me one teenage girl who didn’t feel like she wanted to die when she found out her boyfriend was with her frenemy. I love that song. But Gore made a lot of other great music, too. One of my other favorites is the plaintive “Maybe I Know.” You really feel for this girl who understands that her boyfriend is pretty much a cad, but she just doesn’t want to give up on him. Heck, maybe you were that girl.
When I was reading about Lesley Gore’s death today at 68, I found out that her life was richer than the teenybopper love songs she sang in the 60s, and that her career didn’t end with the end of that decade. She had a degree in English from Sarah Lawrence (which means she was one smart cookie), and a 33 year relationship with her partner Lois Sasson (which means she had a better love than the ones she sang about). I also found out that she co-wrote one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack of 1980’s Fame with her brother Michael. It’s another touching song about a girl who feels lost and afraid, but won’t back down from the troubles in the world or in her heart. I think it kind of sums up the kind of person Lesley Gore was.