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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Song "Big Girls Don't Cry" by the Four Seasons

The Dirty Dancing story begins with the Houseman family driving to the Kellerman resort hotel on August 10, 1963. The car radio is playing the song Big Girls Don't Cry by The Four Seasons.

Baby Houseman narrates from the future:
That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me "Baby", and it didn't occur to me to mind.

That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came --

-- when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought I'd never find a guy as great as my dad.

That was the summer we went to Kellerman's.
The Four Seasons were one of the USA's most popular singing groups in 1963. In 1962, two of their songs -- "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" -- reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In 1963, their "Walk Like a Man" reached Number 1 and "Candy Girl" reached Number 3.

Below is a video of the Four Seasons performing "Big Girls Don't Cry" on television during that period.

Meanwhile in England, however, the Beatles were preparing to launch the "British invasion" that would sweep away groups like the Four Seasons. Below is a video of the Beatles performing "Twist and Shout" in 1963.

When the Four Seasons released "Dawn" in January 1964, it rose to Number 3.

However, "Dawn" was topped by the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You".

"Dawn" remained at #3 for three weeks and then was pushed downward by the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" and "Please, Please, Me".

Futilely trying to hold the Four Seasons at a top popularity, both group's record producer, Vee-Jay Records, issued a two-record set titled The Beatles vs The Four Seasons in late 1964.

By the end of the 1960s, however, the Four Seasons were overwhelmed and almost disappeared.


Compare the above, lame video of the Four Seasons' 1964 song "Dawn" with the trailer for the Beatles' 1964 movie A Hard Day's Night.


The lyrics of "Big Girls Don't Cry" express the idea that women should master their emotions. The male singer begins to respect his former girlfriend only after he realizes that she is not a cry-baby. The girlfriend had indeed cried, but her mother had told her to stop crying publicly -- or even admitting it.
I told my girl we had to break up;
Thought that she would call my bluff,
But she said, to my surprise:
"Big girls don't cry."

Baby, I was cruel.
Baby, I'm a fool.

"Shame on you," your Mama said.
"Shame on you, you cried in bed.
"Shame on you, you told a lie."

Big girls DO cry

"Big girls don't cry."
That's just an alibi.

An article titled Women's Liberation Movement describes developments through the early 1960s:
During World War II, over six million women took an active part in the work force. They filled positions in factories or working on farms. Over three million women worked for the Red Cross and over 200,000 women served in the military. At the end of the war, women were laid off from the positions they had during the war.

Women again were thrown into the life of being a housewife. In 1949, French author and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir wrote her book, The Second Sex, which first depicts women as just another body, not an equal to men. She explained that there was a hierarchy and that through sterotyping, women were on a lower level. It also stated that women's had a sense of "mystery" around them and were depicted as "other". ....

By the late 1950’s women were becoming disgruntled with their place in society and the inability to obtain employment and achieve equality.

The year 1960 was a year of change. ... The Food and Drug Administration approved the first oral contraceptive for women. They were available to women the following year. This became the first step in the liberation movement. This now allowed women to take a stand on their reproductive rights.

In 1961, President Kennedy established the Commission on the Status of Women to examine issues related to women and to make proposals on such topics as employment, Social Security, education and tax laws. At this time, there was a growing interest in women’s rights. Courts were also being faced with cases that dealt with the reproductive rights of women. The commission did find that discriminatory actions were being taken against women.

In 1963, the Federal Government amended the Equal Rights Act. This was to ensure that sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same work establishment was prohibited. The following year, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was to protect women from being discriminated against in the work environment.

In 1963, the list of top songs -- according to Ultra Lists -- included the song "I Will Follow Him" at Number 26. The singer called herself Little Peggy March.

In that same 1963, Joan Baez sang that she herself would not follow her boyfriend. Joan was leaving him -- and was being stoical about leaving him. But in 1963 Joan Baez was far away from the list of the year's top songs.

Four years later, in 1967, the year's list of top songs featured Aretha Franklin demanding "Respect" from her man in the song listed at Number 13.

The year 1967 would have been Frances (Baby) Houseman's senior year in college.

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