I’ve already included two songs by Tenafly-raised Lesley Gore in the 350 Jersey Songs series: “You Don’t Own Me” and the more obscure “Someday.” But it feels wrong not to add her most famous song — and, really, one of the most indelible singles of the early 1960s — as well.
“It’s My Party,” released in 1963, was her first hit, as well as the first hit for the song’s producer, Quincy Jones (up until that point, he was mainly known as a trumpeter and music director for artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton). “It’s My Party” was actually the first song they did together — she picked it out of a large group of demos he played for her at her Tenafly home — and was rush-released when Jones found out that Phil Spector was producing the song, too, for his group, The Crystals (featuring Darlene Love on lead vocals).
The song — written by Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Weiner and Seymour Gottlieb, and first recorded by British singer Helen Shapiro in early 1963 — is about a girl whose boyfriend deserts her at her own birthday party, leaving her to tell everyone, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Due to its catchy melody, Gore’s assertive vocal and Jones’ buoyant production, the single is not maudlin at all.
Gore was 16 years old when she recorded it, and 17 when she got around to releasing her first album, I’ll Cry If I Want To — a concept album, of sorts, also including songs such as “Judy’s Turn to Cry” (another big hit for her), “Cry,” “Cry Me a River,” “Just Let Me Cry,” “Cry and You Cry Alone” and “No More Tears (Left to Cry).”
The clip below comes from a 1965 television appearance.
Gore died in February of this year, at 68.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.