Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mercury Records: It's Judy's Turn to Cry

Nearly two weeks ago, Mercury Records’ artist and hit maker from the early and mid 1960s, Lesley Gore passed away at the age of 68 from lung cancer. Born as Lesley Sue Goldstein, her family changed their surname to Gore at some point after her birth. When producer Quincy Jones was interviewed a number of years ago about Lesley Gore, he mentioned that he had misgivings about her surname Gore as being appropriate for a pop artist, but before he could suggest a pseudonym, Mercury had already released “It’s my Party” and it was climbing up the charts. Her family’s adopted name stuck.

With the success of “It’s My Party,” Jones had Gore returned to the studio and cut a concept album of “cry” songs and Mercury rush released the “I’ll Cry if I Want To” LP. One of the cuts was the follow-up to her initial 1963 hit – “It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry.” Both songs did very well. “It’s My Party” resonated with teenage girls and the song climbed to the #1 spot on both the Hot 100 and the Rhythm & Blues charts. “It’s Judy’s Turn to Cry,” while not performing as well as her initial single, was no slouch. The follow-up charted at #5 on the Hot 100 and at #10 on the R&B chart.

Gore would have subsequent hits, but unknown to most of her fans – the majority of these hits were not penned by Gore and were mostly written by men – short of shattering the somewhat early feminist leanings of this artist. While she didn’t write the majority of her hits – she sang them nonetheless and became a voice for girls and women everywhere.

Here’s a rundown on her Top 40 hits:

11963It’s My PartyHerb Weiner, Wally Gould, & John Gluck
21964You Don’t Own MeJohn Medora & David White
51963It’s Judy’s Turn to CryBeverly Ross & Edna Lewis
51963She’s A FoolBen Raleigh & Mark Barkan
121964That’s the Way Boys AreMark Barkan & Ben Raleigh
131965Sunshine, Lollipops, and RainbowsMarvin Hamlisch & Howard Liebling
141964Maybe I KnowJeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich
161967California NightsMarvin Hamlisch & Howard Liebling
271964Look of LoveJeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich
271965My Town, My Guy, and MeLesley Gore, Paul Kaufman & Bob Elgin
371964I Don’t Wanna Be A LoserBen Raleigh & Mark Barkan

Out of her 11 highest charting hit records, only one was co-written by Lesley Gore (“My Town, My Guy, and Me”). Two others were co-authored by females – and both were written by husband and wife team Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Only one of her bigger hits was completely composed by women: our feature, “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” Gore developed her songwriting craft and her largest contribution was aiding her brother Michael in composing the music for the motion picture “Fame.”

The world will miss this champion of women everywhere. Rest in Peace Lesley Gore.

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