For Martha Reeves, the music that came out of 1964 wasn’t about skin color; it was universal.
“When I first got into show business, there was no white or black music,” Reeves says from her home in Detroit. “There was just music that everybody enjoyed, and Motown was not an all-black company. Our music had no color on it. It was made for people who enjoyed music, and our music will last forever because it was family-oriented.”
Lesley Gore was another artist making waves in 1964. She was 17 when the Beatles arrived on these shores and had already had a No. 1 hit the previous year with “It’s My Party.” In ’64, she had her second biggest song, the one that has resonated as one of pop music’s first hits with an overtly feminist message. “You Don’t Own Me” was a new breed of song for a female artist: “You don’t own me/I’m not just one of your many toys.”
“When I first heard that song, I didn’t immediately think of feminism, but I did think of humanism,” Gore says. “It was a great song to be 17 years old and stand up in front of an audience and shake your finger and say, ‘You don’t own me.’ The feminists picked it up as their anthem, which is great, but I consider it a little more than just feminism. I think everyone can sing that song and mean it, like so many other songs from that era.”