Mysteries Of Pop #38715 – Who are the chorus on Leader of the Pack?
The backing vocalists on monumental deathpop masterpiece “Leader Of The Pack” are a gaggle of interested parties who first appear in the spoken-word section that opens the song – “Let’s ask her”. They ask two questions – “Is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing” and “Is he picking you up after school today?”. So we know they can’t come from the singer’s school, where everyone stops and stares, because they don’t yet know that Jimmy is dead. In fact you have to feel for the poor heroine of the song, not only is her lover dead but these people are asking frankly intrusive questions. Her initially evasive “uh-uh”, after all, suggests that she doesn’t really want to talk about this stuff when the song starts.
Still she takes it in good grace, recounts how she and Jimmy met, the chorus indicate that they understand – they are curious but not voyeuristic, they don’t want to probe these intimate moments too deeply. Then things really get odd – their next two interjections are attempts at clarification, but only of what the singer’s parents are reported as saying. And indeed they’re directly addressing the parents – “what ya mean when ya say that you better go find somebody new”; it’s the parents who have been saying this, not our heroine. Who, incidentally, makes no attempt to answer the chorus’ questions.
So what’s going on here? Here’s a theory – the chorus are people who are known to, and on speaking terms with, the parents, as well as knowing and being concerned for the heroine, but not at school with her. In other words, they’re the parents’ friends, not the singer’s. They are a little older, gossippy but not so tuned into the events of young life to know yet that Jimmy is dead. They are very keen to push back on the parents’ prejudices as they are certainly a lot more liberal – and we know this because of their frank, indeed enthusiastic, endorsement of pre-marital sex: “Gee, it must be great riding with him”. Case closed!