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Lesley Gore 1946-2015

Lesley Gore was preparing for her studies in English and American literature at New York’s Sarah Lawrence College — whose alumni include Yoko Ono, Sigourney Weaver, Alice Walker, Carly Simon and Meredith Monk — while making some of the best records of the girl-group era between 1963 and 1965. Her voice had a sensible, wholesome quality that may have lacked the poignancy of the Shirelles’ Shirley Owens or the sexiness of the Ronettes’ Veronica Bennett but was perfectly suited to the songs that became her hits.

If “It’s My Party” was the best known of them, and “You Don’t Own Me” achieved a different dimension of success after being claimed as a feminist anthem, it’s also worth remembering beauties like “Maybe I Know” (above), its wonderful groove created by Claus Ogerman’s arrangement, Quincy Jones’s production, and a bunch of great New York session men who’d probably forgotten everything about it by the time they sat down to dinner that night. “The Look of Love” is from the same template and just as fine:  a world of danceable teenage anguish compressed into two minutes and three seconds. Both of them came from the pens of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Her version of the classic “What Am I Gonna Do With You (Hey Baby)”, written by Gerry Goffin and Russ Titelman, is also extremely beautiful.

She died yesterday, aged 68. Here’s Dave Laing’s Guardian obituary. She had quite a story.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Blimey, that exit door’s slamming really hard these days. The first single that I bought while away from home in summer 1965, was The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’, which I then sold since I didn’t have anything to play it on in my mum’s flat in London. That Christmas, I asked my dad for a Dansette (or equivalent), one album (‘Rubber Soul’) and 6 singles, including ‘I Feel Fine’, ‘Goldfinger’, ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ and … ‘Maybe I Know’. ‘Maybe I Know’ and its B-side, ‘Wonder Boy’, hardly ever left my turntable. In my eyes (and ears), Lesley Gore was … ‘Wonder Girl’!

    February 18, 2015

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