It’s my Music Monday, and I’ll cry if I want to.
Only because it is Monday, not because of the music.
It’s my birthday this week. Not sure how many more times I’ll admit to that, but since I’m still in my thirties for a few more years (four, to be exact), I’ll reveal my age until I decide otherwise.
I choose not to have birthday parties and such – I like simple things, going out to dinner, spending time with good company, experiences, well wishes, and gifts. I’m more interested in actually doing something rather than getting something for my birthday these days. This past weekend, I celebrated my 36th birthday a week early and attended a convention in Valley Forge, PA.
I partied like I was 3 years old and met Jem herself, Samantha Newark.
We also met Larry Kenney, the guy behind “ThunderCats…HO!”
And yes, I was rocking a sweet She-Ra sweatshirt (with cape!).
This early birthday was sweet (I’ll celebrate it on the actual day, but this was the pre-Birthday celebration), but not everyone’s birthday is. And that killjoy reminder is the subject of Music Monday this week. It’s a song about a birthday party that’s only memorable because of what happened to the birthday girl.
May it never happen to you, but if it did, you’d probably commiserate with her.
“It’s My Party” is a 1963 song by Lesley Gore, who was a junior in high school at the time of the song’s recording. The song was the first to be produced by Quincy Jones. The song was originally recorded in 1962 by The Chiffons, and again (recorded in February 1963) by Helen Shapiro. However, Shapiro’s version was perceived as a cover of Lesley Gore’s song by the time it was released in October 1963 (Gore’s version was released in April 1963).
The song tells the story of a birthday party, in which the birthday girl’s boyfriend (Johnny) disappears from the party, returning with Judy (presumably the girl’s rival even before the infamous incident of the song), who is (gasp!) wearing Johnny’s ring. “Wearing Johnny’s ring” means Judy is his new love interest.
How dare he do this to Birthday Girl!
The song is actually about songwriter Seymour Gottlieb’s daughter Judy’s Sweet 16. Judy, horrified at the prospect of her grandparents being invited to her big party, cried (the horror!). I love the irony of that because the party isn’t even for Judy in this song!
At the time of its release, Quincy Jones was overseas, and upon returning, he was unhappy with the rush release of the song. Turns out he wanted young Lesley’s name to be changed to something more pleasant than “Lesley Gore.” Aaron Schroder of the Aaron Schroder Music Firm said it didn’t matter what her name was, but that the song was a #1 hit.
And after you listen to the singer’s story of teenage heartache and birthday party blues, you’ll understand her pain!
“It’s My Party” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, R&B, and Cash Box Top 100, and was #29 overall or 1963 on the Hot 100. Turns out teenage woes at a birthday party makes for popular songs, but then again, it works for breakup songs all the time!
As for Judy, she got hers in the end, in the form of a sequel song, “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963 (#83 for the year). In this song, the narrator, coming to realization that she was foolish for shedding a tear over Judy and her beloved Johnny, kisses another boy. This doesn’t sit well with Johnny, who punches that prospective beau and getting back in Birthday Girl’s good graces, upsetting Judy in the process.
These days, there wouldn’t have been a sequel – Birthday Girl would have told them both off. Because she’s strong, she’s power, she’s woman. Hear her roar!
At least, we hope this is how it would fly in modern times.
But in 1963, no boyfriend meant the world was coming to an end.
As for Lesley Gore, she went on to act, compose songs for the 1980 movie Fame (with her brother Michael), and host an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, in the 2000s. She released albums until the early 1980s, a comeback in 2005, and revealed in 2004 that she was a lesbian and had been in a relationship since 1982. Lesley Gore died of lung cancer in 2015, but her music was made for a generation of teenage girls fed up with their fickle boyfriends. She showed all the self-assertion of a feisty girl through her music.
It was her party, and she chose not to cry. All girls should be so confident!
The song was featured in the movie Problem Child, as upset birthday girl Lucy watches on in horror as her party is ruined by Junior Healey and his rather devilish pranks.
Folks, the EXACT reason to cry at your birthday party – someone else ruining it in a whole other way!
And there you have it, a birthday-themed Music Monday. I figured I could find something that fit the theme. I had to go back to the 1960s, but appealing to the audience is what I like to do.
After all, it’s my blog, and I’ll post what I want to.
Have a great Monday (is there such a thing?), and enjoy the music!