YouTube Discoveries: Lesley Gore’s “She’s a Fool”

Thanks to YouTube, I’ve been pretty much stuck on automatic replay–albeit via manual click, not like the old record player I had as a kid that had a mechanism for playing one side of a platter over and over.

In today’s case, of course, it’s a Lesley Gore hit, to be precise, “She’s a Fool,” still my favorite hit of her lot.

Three things stand out about “She’s a Fool.” First and probably foremost, it represented a marked change in tone from the two hits that preceded it and established Lesley’s career, “It’s My Party” and it’s chronological and thematic follow-up “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” These two songs were catchy teen girl romantic angst and revenge pop of the highest order, yet severely typecasting to the point that Les was in danger of being a two-hit wonder at best.

With “She’s a Fool,” however, she suddenly became all but grownup intense, thanks to her incredible singing, for sure, but also a Quincy Jones production that drives the point home.

The above version was a remaster. Here’s the original mono single:

Notice that there’s really very little to the song. One melodic verse/chorus repeated once then modulated up, then another modulation up on the final chorus fadeout. No break instrumentally or structurally, but a riveting arrangement featuring handclaps, bluesy piano bed, insistent string zooms and the hint of horns–and that sinister male exclamatory nonsense-syllable undercurrent of what I always heard as “Sack-a-dula!”

About as simple as it gets, but so striking that it propelled Lesley to her next big hit, her signature proto-feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” The rest, sadly, is now history, but forever an enduring one.

Here’s one last clip of her singing it live:

And by the way, isn’t she beautiful?

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