Tuesday 15 January 2013 – Regular readers of my blog know that when I’m working, I have music playing in the background. It doesn’t often distract me and serves to stop me feeling the seclusion, writer’s must feel. Yes, being a writer is a solitary profession, but that jangle of noise behind me somehow helps to keep me focussed. The other day I was sat at my laptop punching the keys, creating new experiences for my imaginary character when a song shuffled forward and took over my concentration.
Oddly enough it’s a song that doesn’t play on my iPod often, but it grabbed my attention enough to have me leave my seat and stand listening, head bobbing as it played. The song in question was, Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las.
Ask anyone to name a song by this famous girl group and you can guarantee it’ll be the teenage, tragedy, Leader of the Pack. The group was actually made up of four girls, but they always appeared on stage and on television as a trio. The Shangri-Las consisted of two sets of sisters, Mary Weiss, who was the lead vocalist, Betty Weiss and twins, Marge and Mary Ganser.
Originally, Leader of the Pack had been written for another girl group, The Goodies. But the producer George Morton needed a follow up single for the Shangri-Las who had recently charted with the song Remember (Walking on the Sand). When the song was first released, it was banned on the BBC; executives thought that the storyline would encourage delinquency and rival gang fights between Mods and Rockers. Despite this, it charted and reached number eleven in the British charts. It charted twice again reaching, number three in 1972 and number seven in 1976. By this time the ban had been lifted and song received radio airplay,
There have been a plethora of cover versions of the song, people from Bette Midler to rockers Twisted Sister, even camp comic Julian Clary has had a bash at the song. What greater compliment can a song-writer/singer have, than other artists wanting to perform and record your work, I wonder how many One Direction or Cheryl Cole songs will receive such accolades?
But back to me. As the sound of the motorbikes wheels shriek on the rain-slickened road, I press repeat and sit down and savour this classic once again before returning to my writing.