The BL breaks down the song: Leader of the Pack

A Post By: Michael Gallo

Shangri_Las

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the oldies. I mean the real oldies, not this “let’s label Motley Crue the oldies” bullshit. Did I just quote the song Stacey’s Mom? Maybe. One of my favorite Pandora stations is the Golden Oldies station. This shit pumps out all of my favorite jams. Herman’s Hermits, The Ventures, The Temptations…this station has it all. So when one of my all-time favorite songs, Leader of the Pack by the Shangri-Las came on, I was pumped. This song has an awesome beat, and catchy lyrics…or so I thought. When I paid closer attention I discovered that this song is actually a little ridiculous. Not to mention depressing and nonsensical.

I’ve provided the audio for the song, as well as the lyrics so you can follow along. My commentary is in bold.

Wait, first things first: Are those girls in that picture in the video? They are SERIOUSLY ambiguous. 

[Spoken:]
Is she really going out with him?
Well, there she is. Let’s ask her.

This song starts off with needless and senseless gossip. Times were different then, if you got gossiped about or the whole school thought you were a slut, it didn’t matter. Parents weren’t going to bail you out. In those days, there was a good chance your dad fought in WWII. He wasn’t gonna give a shit if you got called a slut at school.

Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?
Mm-hmm
Gee, it must be great riding with him
Is he picking you up after school today?

Right off the bat, there are implications that this clown isn’t in school. That’s not a good start, but in those days going to high school was like wearing a seat belt: it’s not necessarily bad for you, but there’s no hard science proving that it’s good for you.

Uh-uh
By the way, where’d you meet him?

So you know this guy’s name, and that him and Betty may be an item, but you don’t even know where they met? Folks, don’t go through life only knowing people on a surface level. If you have friends who are meeting random loners at candy shops, you should really get the details, because he’s probably going to die in a horrific motorcycle accident in the coming weeks, and this will make you look a lot more innocent in the police reports.

I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That’s when I fell for (the leader of the pack)

Shit, we’ve got a grown man, who isn’t in school, and likes hanging out in candy shops… alone. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that small children are the main demographic of candy stores. So what’s up Jimmy? What are you trolling for? You looking for Betty or some kiddie shit?

My folks were always putting him down (down, down)
They said he came from the wrong side of town

Betty, your parents clearly have some geographical prejudice. Not to mention they seem to be buying into some bizarre social/class structure. Back then though, you wouldn’t date someone if they were “colored” so maybe this was a completely logical response from Betty’s parents. 

(whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?)

He was black?
They told me he was bad
But I knew he was sad

Betty is apparently attracted to men with depression or other recurrent depressive disorders. I think her and Jimmy should seek counseling. Did they even have therapists back then?

That’s why I fell for (the leader of the pack)

One day my dad said, “Find someone new”
I had to tell my Jimmy we’re through

If dad was like “Betty, drive your t-bird into a telephone pole you poodle skirt wearing skank” would you run out and do it right away? Parents offer guidance and suggestions, you don’t have to run out and do everything they tell you. Most of the time.

(whatcha mean when ya say that ya better go find somebody new?)
He stood there and asked me why
But all I could do was cry
I’m sorry I hurt you (the leader of the pack)

As someone who has made 25+ girls cry, I can tell you that crying doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact, I’m willing to say that tears actually inhibit real conversation and progress. So save it BETTY! Plus, if this dude was really a motorcycle riding bad ass, why does he give a shit? If I were Jimmy, I’d grab a twizzler and peace out.

[Spoken:]

Heads up, weird out of place monologue coming your way.
He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show

Who’s crying?

As he drove away on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow

“Go slow, so you only sort of die. Or die slowly.” 

But whether he heard, I’ll never know

Quick Fix: “Hey asshole, did you hear me?!”

Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!

AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! The “looks outs” are followed by a bizarre crashing noise that undoubtedly has glass in it. I’m not sure what Jimmy drove into. Perhaps a car windshield? No, that’s not it. This noise is different. Judging by the noise, I think Jimmy drove into a China shop.

I felt so helpless, what could I do?

1. Call an ambulance

2. Go see if he’s okay

3. Administer some sort of first aid. 

4. At least see what the fuck happened

Remembering all the things we’d been through
In school they all stop and stare
I can’t hide the tears, but I don’t care
I’ll never forget him (the leader of the pack)

When you cause a motorcycle accident, it’s pretty hard to forget the person you killed, so congrats on that.

The leader of the pack – now he’s gone

The leader of the pack – now he’s gone

The leader of the pack – now he’s gone

The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
[Fade]

So when you’re a kid and your mom plays this song, it’s catchy. But all these years later…it’s just two depressed, overly-obedient maniacs forcing each other to their untimely deaths.

And, just for your viewing pleasure, here is another version of Leader of the Pack by the Shangri-Las. Except this version is a fan video that almost exclusively contains scantily clad cartoon women with Hispanic biker men.

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