Valentine’s Day is a wonderful holiday for many, but whether you’re happily coupled or pleasantly solo, sometimes you need to stand up and roar your independence. Originally made famous by Lesley Gore in 1963 (and made doubly famous thanks to First Wives Club in 1996), “You Don’t Own me” is a perennial pop anthem of freedom and feminist resolve, and today Billboard is sharing a wonderful new entry in the “You Don’t Own Me” covers canon courtesy of Whitney Rose. Mixing outlaw country with ’60s girl group flavor, Rose gives a spirited honky-tonk take on the classic.
“I’ve been singing this song live only for years. With every album I’ve made I’ve thought about including it, it’s such a strong song and it’s really empowering to perform,” Rose tells Billboard. “Then there’s the fact that you can’t turn on the news these days without seeing that it’s just as relevant now as it was when Lesley Gore released it in 1963. I want everyone in the world to know this song and I want everyone to believe the words. I may not have that kind of reach but I wanted to do my part.”
Born in Canada, Rose moved to Texas because, as she puts it, it’s a “damn special place. What I love about it most is how so many people who are extremely different can coexist. Texans have a very deep sense of pride and are actually really welcoming to people who move here, it’s like a ‘Of course you wanted to move here. Texas is the best place in the world! You’re smart to move here. You’re a Texan now’ kind of thing. It’s a red state, obviously, but I’ve never found that people talk about that too much outside of their own homes. They’d rather be two-stepping. I dig that.”
Inspired by Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Keith Whitley, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, Rose says she appreciates contemporary artists who “take country and offer up ways that it can evolve differently than it has in mainstream country radio. Sturgill Simpson is a stunning example of that. As is Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Angaleena Presley and Linda Ortega.”
As for her songwriting process, she says the stories are out there if you’re willing to listen. “It’s all about the people,” Rose says. “To be a great storyteller you gotta be a great listener, I think. The day I die I’ll still be learning how to be a better listener but I find that the older I get, the better at it I get. I’m really lucky because I get to travel a lot with my job and I meet new people every single day that I’m on the road. They all have stories. Some of them are too good not to share.”
Of course, it’s not all documentary-style songwriting. “I also make a lot of shit up,” she says. “My love of make-believe did not leave me when I entered adulthood.”