When I visited Lesley Gore in her new pad on the Upper East Side, she was still reeling from a fire that burned down the apartment she had lived in for many years. “I’m only just beginning to feel like I’m coming out of a dark, seriously ugly time,” she said, explaining that what remained of her belongings was still in storage and that she was still hard at work getting her new apartment in order. Despite enduring what she considers the toughest year of her life, she credits the fire with giving her a “good kick in the butt” and focusing her on a number projects she had put on the back burner—including writing her memoirs. “There’s no question that it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s how you deal with it,” she said.
I was on assignment from Ace Records, who was reissuing her Girl Talk album from 1964, along with 13 bonus tracks. I brought my Girl Talk LP with me, and handed it to Lesley hoping she could take me back to that time. She went through each track, highlighting Van McCoy’s “You’ve Come Back” as one of her favorite songs of all time and the experience of hearing “Little Girl Go Home” for the first time in Paris, over lunch with Charles Aznavour. She really lit up when remembering the sessions with Ellie Greenwich, who co-wrote a number of the tracks on Girl Talk, as well as arranged all the background vocals. “”She could’ve done anything, let me tell ya! She was just such a talent!” She was surprisingly open about the not-so-pretty side of the ’60s, what it was like to be female in the male-dominated music biz, and how she kept her chin up when the hits dried up.
It was a real pleasure interviewing Lesley, and I worked my ass off on the liner notes, determined to do justice to her journey from New Jersey teenager to mega-star to outspoken women’s rights activist, songwriter, and artist. You can read the full piece in the booklet of Ace Records’ Girl Talk, available directly from Ace Records or Amazon.com.