There were two song titles in our April issue.
"Off and Running," a song by Lesley Gore, shares a title with our case study on Puma, which begins on p. 34 of our April issue. The second song was "Everything Is Cool," by John Prine—also the title of our case study on craft beer maker Ritual Brewing on p. 50. Steve Davison of Liftec spotted the Prine song for the win this month, so he'll be enjoying some cool iced coffee this summer.
Lesley Gore (born Lesley Sue Goldstein) hit number one on the charts right out of the gate with her first single, 1963's Quincy Jones-produced "It's My Party," released when she was only 17 years old. The song set the mold for future hits with a poppy, girl-group sound. She had several more Jones-produced hits throughout the decade, including "Judy's Turn to Cry" (an answer record to "It's My Party"), "You Don't Own Me," and "Maybe I Know." "Off and Running," another Jones production, was a bit more of a rocker than Gore's usual fare. (The British Invasion rock group The Mindbenders played it in the 1967 hit movie To Sir with Love.) Gore's version first appeared as a single in '66 and was included on the 1967 LP California Nights. Around this time, she also ventured into television, making a couple of appearances on the camp classic TV series Batman as Catwoman's sidekick, Pussycat.
But by 1969 her record sales were down and she lost her recording contract. She then started writing songs, both for herself and for others. She and her brother Michael composed music for the 1980 movie Fame, including "Out Here on My Own," which was nominated for an Oscar. (The title song, composed by Michael, won.) Gore played the oldies circuit and did musical theater, including the Broadway show Smokey Joe's Cafe.
In 2004, she guest hosted on a PBS television series about LGBT issues, In the Life. In 2005, she publicly came out on the After Ellen show. That same year, she released her first album in almost 25 years, Ever Since. Songs from the album were used on TV shows such as C.S.I. and The L Word. In 2011, she was a headliner in a Lincoln Center concert called "She's Got the Power." Not long after, she began working on a Broadway show about her life. However, she died in 2015, of lung cancer, before it could be finished.
Singer/songwriter John Prine is known for country/folk songs that often tell wryly humorous stories. He was born in Illinois in 1946. Country music ran in his family; his grandfather played guitar for country star Merle Travis. Prine learned guitar at age 14 from his brother and later took classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. After graduating from high school, he worked as a mailman, then did a stint in the Army, where he sometimes played his guitar to entertain fellow soldiers.
When he got out of the Army, he moved to Chicago and took another job at the U.S. Postal Service. He kept playing music, and writing it too. It wasn't long before friends talked him into performing at an open-mike night at a local club called the Fifth Peg. He began playing at the club regularly, and that's where Sun-Times reporter Roger Ebert saw him and wrote an enthusiastic review. Soon, a friend of Prine's played his music for Kris Kristofferson, which led to the recording of Prine's first, self-titled album.
Prine's songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Bette Midler, and Paul Westerberg of the Replacements, but up through the 1980s he had no big hits of his own, and his record label dropped him. In response, he went on to form his own label and enjoy increasing success. His 1991 album The Missing Years featured appearances by Tom Petty, Patti Smith, and Bruce Springsteen. It became his most commercially successful album at the time and won a Grammy. It's also the album on which "Everything Is Cool" first appeared.
The following year, Prine branched out into movies. He acted in and wrote music for the film Falling from Grace, directed by fellow musician John Mellencamp. He released three more albums. Then in 1998, he was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment was successful, but it changed his voice, making it lower and more gravelly. That didn't hurt his career, though. The album he released next, In Spite of Ourselves, was a critical success, and he later went on to win two more Grammys, among other awards. Another bout of cancer followed in 2013, also successfully treated. His most recent album is this year's The Tree of Forgiveness.
Get your May-issue responses in by July 1
Answers to our May-issue rock contest are due to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight Pacific time on Sunday, July 1. For a hint, turn to page 9 of that issue or the table of contents in our mobile version. If you guess correctly, you'll be entered into our drawing for a three-pack sampler of Joey Kramer's Rockin' & Roastin' Organic Coffee. (Please note: Previous contest winners may not enter for the next three months.)
Photo, top right: John Prine at MerleFest (2006). Photo by Ron Baker.
Used under Creative Commons license 2.0.