Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tremeloes – "You Don't Own Me" (1965)

You don't own me
Don't say I can't go with other girls

The late Lesley Gore's 1964 hit, "You Don't Own Me," is viewed by some as a protofeminist anthem.

Some might say that a song that was written by two men is automatically disqualified from being a "feminist touchstone" (New York Times) and “a major factor in the rise of the second-wave feminist movement” (Wikipedia) that belongs on the list of works that helped inspire the women's liberation movement.

Lesley Gore
But I think there's a more compelling reason to question those who view "You Don't Own Me" through feminist-tinted glasses.

"You Don't Own Me" is what you might call a bisexual song.  If a song works just as well with a male singer as with a female singer after you do a little tweaking of the lyrics (for example, you change "Don't say I can't go with other boys" to "Don't say I can't go with other girls"), then how can it be a protofeminist anthem?

Some songs are suitable for performance only by singers of one gender or the other.

For example, there's Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."  You can change the title to "Stand By Your Woman," and revise the first line to read "Sometimes it's hard . . . to be a man," but the song simply doesn't work if a male sings it.

But the situation described in "You Don't Own Me" is as applicable to boys as it is to girls.

In fact, that song actually makes more sense when sung by a male than a female.

For example, consider those lines from "You Don't Own Me":

I don't tell you what to say 
I don't tell you what to do 
So just let me be myself 
That's all I ask of you 

Let's face it, boys and girls.  The need to tell men what to do is an inherent female characteristic.    

By contrast, men generally don't care what women do as long as they don't try to tell men what to do.  

Jack White spoke for men all over the world in his 2014 song, "Entitlement":

I'm tired
Of being told
What to do

Please don't be offended by this, ladies.  The world might well be a better place if men listened to you more often.  My point is simply that even when what you tell a man to do is 100% right, that man isn't going to like to be told what to do.

The Tremeloes
On New Year's Day, 1962, Decca Records auditioned the Tremeloes and another promising young band.  Decca chose to sign the Tremeloes because they were from London, which made them more accessible than the other group, which was from . . . Liverpool?

You guessed it, folks – the other group was the Beatles, who signed with a different label.

The Tremeloes had a nice career.  They had eleven singles that were top-ten hits in the UK, and their covers of the Contours' "Do You Love Me?" and the Four Seasons' "Silence Is Golden" both made it to #1 across the pond. 

But they weren't the Beatles any more than 17-year-old Lesley Gore was Betty Friedan.  

Here's the Tremeloes' cover of "You Don't Own Me":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment