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Why A Golden Oldie Still Matters

There’s a song that was first sung by a 17-year-old Lesley Gore in 1964. It reached number 2 on the Billboard charts sitting just behind the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Your parents or grandparents might remember it. It’s been recorded by a wide variety of artists including Bette Midler, Joan Jett, The Blow Monkeys, and Eminem even sampled it on his song “Untitled” in 2010. Nichole Sherzinger sang it on the 2009 finale of The Sing-off.

Why mention a song that was recorded so long ago? Considered a proto-feminist anthem of the ‘60s, “You Don’t Own Me” describes a girl’s frustration and confusion about her boyfriend’s controlling behavior. Each sentence of the lyric contains the message that this girl should be allowed to be who she is, not the toy or trophy of her boyfriend. Just read the lyrics to “You Don’t Own Me” and see that this song is still relevant 47 years later.

You Don’t Own Me by John Madara and David White
© 1963 UNICHAPPELL MUSIC INC. Copyright Reserved. All Rights Reserved

You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys
You don’t own me, don’t say I can’t go with other boys
And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ’cause
You don’t own me, don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me, don’t tie me down ’cause I’d never stay
Oh, 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
I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please
A-a-a-nd don’t tell me what to do
Oh-h-h-h don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display
I don’t tell you what to say
Oh-h-h-h don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you
I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want


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