I always said I’d never get married, but that if I did, I’d walk down the aisle to Leslie Gore’s recording of “You Don’t Own Me.”
Well, time marches on. I got married after all, the Las Vegas chapel didn’t have much of an aisle to speak of, and now I’m hearing that the queen of the 1960s girl singers is gone, aged 68.
Girls loved Leslie Gore, I think, because her voice and songs (“It’s My Party” being the best known) aptly expressed the little dramas and heartaches of female teenaged life in the early 1960s, and beyond.
That voice was ringing, if a bit raw — all the better to belt out those songs, ones that sounded like Sylvia Plath’s journals set to AM radio-friendly music.
If so many of her song titles contained the word “cry,” it wasn’t just a way to cash in on that first monster hit. Gore’s voice, like her country counterpart Tammy Wynette’s, came complete with a natural, inimitable, soul-rending catch.
And if Gore wasn’t intimidatingly, show-biz beautiful, well, neither were the millions of girls who cried and consoled themselves as she sang, just to them, in their bedrooms, like a best friend.
Nobody knew then that Gore was a lesbian. Maybe she didn’t quite know either. I have no idea.
I do wish she hadn’t used “my” never-was wedding song in a “reproductive rights” PSA a couple of years ago, but there’s nothing I can do about that, then or now.
I prefer to remember her as my imaginary friend of sorts, whose singles can still quicken my middle-aged heart.