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April 16, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we shine our spotlight on Lesley Gore, who, as a 17-year-old in 1963, exploded onto the music scene with her #1 pop hit, “It’s My Party.”
A heartbreaking account of a teenage girl being humiliated at her own birthday party, “It’s My Party” grew to be much more than a song. The catchphrase “It’s my party. I’ll cry if I want to” became part of the pop culture lexicon to describe a happy event that takes an unexpected turn for the worse.
In the song, Gore’s boyfriend, Johnny, leaves the party for a while with her rival, Judy. When they return later, Judy is showing off a new piece of jewelry.
Gore sings, “Oh, Judy and Johnny just walked through that door / Like a queen with her king / Oh what a birthday surprise / Judy’s wearin’ his ring.”
The line “It’s my party. I’ll cry if I want to” was originally credited to the Brill Building writing team of John Gluck, Wally Gold and Herb Weiner. But, later, it was rightfully attributed to part-time songwriter Seymour Gottlieb, and specifically, his daughter, Judy.
Judy Solash told the New York Daily News in 2015 that she was a teenager living in Brooklyn when a disagreement over her Sweet 16 guest list sparked an emotional exchange with her dad. Seymour thought it was proper to invite Judy’s grandparents and the birthday girl had other ideas.
Here’s how the song was born, according to Solash: “I, of course, being a bratty teenager, said I didn’t want them there. I burst into tears, and my father said, ‘Don’t cry.’”
Judy, famously answered, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.”
Gottlieb, a restaurant owner and lyricist, passed the catchy phrase to his songwriter friend Weiner, who later composed the song with Gluck and Gold. When the song became a chart-topping hit, Weiner agreed to share his portion of the song’s royalties with Gottlieb.
Gore, who was born Lesley Sue Goldstein, was a junior in high school when she recorded “It’s My Party” for producer Quincy Jones. The song zoomed to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, while also charting in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
She followed this chart-topper with other memorable songs, such as “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me.” Gore lost her battle with lung cancer in 2015. She was 68.
Please check out the video of Gore’s live performance of “It’s My Party” on the Ed Sullivan Show in October 1963. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
“It’s My Party”Written by John Gluck, Wally Gold, Herb Weiner and Seymour Gottlieb. Performed by Lesley Gore.
It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want toCry if I want to, cry if I want toYou would cry too if it happened to you
Nobody knows where my Johnny has goneJudy left the same timeWhy was he holding her handWhen he’s supposed to be mine?
Play all my records, keep dancing all nightBut leave me alone for a while‘Til Johnny’s dancing with meI’ve got no reason to smile
Oh, Judy and Johnny just walked through that doorLike a queen with her KingOh what a birthday surpriseJudy’s wearin’ his ring
Oh it’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want toCry if I want to, cry if I want toYou would cry too if it happened to you
Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com/The Ed Sullivan Show.