You Don't Own Me
|"You Don't Own Me"|
|Single by Lesley Gore|
|from the album Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts|
|B-side||"Run Bobby, Run"|
|Lesley Gore singles chronology|
"You Don't Own Me" is a popular song written by Philadelphia songwriters John Madara and David White and recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963, when Gore was 17 years old. The song reached number 2 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in the United States (just behind The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand"). The song remained at number 2 for three consecutive weeks, unable to overcome the Beatles' hit, and became Gore's second most successful hit, next to "It's My Party". It was Gore's last top ten single.
The song is an example of threatened emancipation, as the singer tells a lover that he does not own her; that he is not to tell her what to do or what to say; that he is not to put her on display. The song's lyrics became an inspiration for younger women and played in a major factor in the rise of the second wave feminist movement. Gore said, "My take on the song was: I'm 17, what a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and sing you don't own me". In Gore's obituary, The New York Times referred to "You Don't Own Me" as "indelibly defiant".
The song has been covered by The Tremeloes, Dusty Springfield on her debut album, A Girl Called Dusty, cello rock group Rasputina on their album How We Quit the Forest, Elaine Paige on her album Love Can Do That, Joan Jett on her debut album Bad Reputation, The Blow Monkeys on Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Jack Killed Jill on their album Hello Neighbor, by Poliça on their Raw Exit EP, and by Quintron on The Unmasked Organ Light-Year of Inifinity Man.
At the time the song was originally released, versions were recorded in several other languages, both by Lesley Gore herself, and by other artists. The German version was "Goodbye Tony", recorded by Lesley Gore. The Italian version was "Va... Tu Sei Libero", recorded by Lesley Gore, Isabella Iannetti, and Dalida. The French version was "Je Ne Sais Plus", recorded by Lesley Gore, Dalida, and Jacqueline Boyer. An alternate French version, "Je Suis Libre", was performed by the Canadian singer Michèle Richard. It was also recorded in Swedish, as "Jag Vill Ha Dig" by Marianne Kock, and in Dutch, as "Ik Wil Vrij Zijn", by Liliane Saint-Pierre, as the B-side to her first hit record, "We Gotta Stop", as well as having been recorded in Japanese by Mieko Hirota.
Andre Hazes recorded a Dutch-language version of the song in 1981 for his album Gewoon Andre; "Zeg Maar Niets Meer" was popular in Europe, and reached No. 2 in the Dutch charts in early 1982. In 1998, Eva Pilarová sung a Czech version under the name "Cesta končí" on the album Requiem.
German countertenor Klaus Nomi included the song on his self-titled debut album in English, emphasizing the song's original gender and, with a few minor lyric adjustments, gave the song a gay theme. The song, like most of Nomi's recordings, was fairly obscure in Nomi's lifetime, but it later gained exposure through posthumous airplay on The Rush Limbaugh Show as the theme to Limbaugh's "Gay Updates."
In 2012, Tavi Gevinson and Petra Collins, along with many other celebrities, starred in a music video lipsynching to the song. These videos were later made into a public service announcement (PSA) addressing Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and his intentions regarding abortion and Planned Parenthood. The PSA was directed by musician Sarah Sophie Flicker of The Citizens Band and filmmaker Maximilla Lukacs, and produced by Rebecca Fernandez. Other celebrities in the video include Carrie Brownstein, Alexa Chung, Karen Elson, Zoe Kravitz, Natasha Lyonne, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lena Dunham, Sia Furler, Becky Stark and Miranda July. The online video included spoken commentary by Gore.