04 April 2008

"it's my party" || lesley gore || 1963

The 1960s seem like somewhat of an anomaly to me in regards to its popular music. Comparing what was popular in 1963 versus what was popular just a few years later in 1968 will heed interesting results. To me, it sounds like completely different universes. In the later 1960s, psychedelic rock had taken over the youth culture, and the hippie movement thrust a lot of folk rockers into the limelight.

The early '60s, however, seemed still caught in the '50s pop music sound. This was probably due to the fact that "pop" music was really a new concept in the '50s. Before then, youth culture stuck to swing music and easy listening, which actually annoyed their parents because they only listened to classical music. By the '50s, though, World War II was over, and so was the love of "war" music (See Glenn Miller's "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree" if you're not sure what I mean by this term.). Youth culture sprung out with Rock & Roll and Doo Wop, two very cool styles of music that became cornerstones of American culture and still inspire musicians today.

It's no wonder that we were still hearing '50s-esque sounds by the time 1963 got here. It was still cool! If you ask most people, it's still cool today!

Everyone knows this Lesley Gore song, and I'm willing to bet that most will sing its chorus if you ask nicely. It's absolute Maxwell K Certified™ pop music perfection. The story is simple: Singer has a birthday party, supposed-boyfriend (Johnny) shows up with new girlfriend (Judy), who is now wearing his ring. Singer is devastated and cries at her own birthday party. Today this concept would be the making of lyrical content to a new Taking Back Sunday single, but in 1963 it became a swinging, clapping, danceable pop song.

Gore was a 16-year-old high school student in New Jersey when she recorded this song. She sacrificed a head-on music career to go to college, but remained in the industry by performing on weekends and during the summer. In spite of her unwillingness to devote all her time to a recording career, she still managed to land a bevy of singles on the Billboard charts by the end of the '60s. She even recorded a sequel to this song, called "Judy's Turn To Cry."

For me, though, "It's My Party" is her masterwork, and it's still one of my 10 favorite songs of all time.

And, just a bit of amusing irony: In 2005, Gore officially came out of the closet. Certainly gives a new spin to the song, doesn't it? Maybe she was jealous that Johnny had her Judy.

Here's a cool video of her performing it live.

Listen here.

Available On:
Malt Shop Memories - Jukebox GemsTime Life Music21077-22xCD