What grown man doesn’t want a sixteen year old girlfriend?

On the way home from a doctor’s appointment, I was rocking out to the 50s channel on SiriusXM. I grew up listening to 50s and 60s rock and developed a fondness for it early on. I can probably sing more 50’s songs than I can 90’s songs, truth be told. But one thing I also enjoyed about the “innocent days of rock and roll” was the amount of creepiness that pops up if you pay a bit of attention to the songs.

Case in point, “You’re Sixteen” originally sung by Johnny Burnette.  Right off the bat, we know he’s in love with a teenage girl who just turned sixteen, and we know he appreciates her… physical attributes:

You come on like a dream, peaches and cream
Lips like strawberry wine
You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine

So his now sixteen year old lover tastes like strawberry wine, and she’s all his, coming on like a dream, something about peaches and cream…  It sounds sweet.

You’re all ribbons and curls, ooh, what a girl
Eyes that sparkle and shine
You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine

This paints a slightly different picture, a young girl all “ribbons and curls”, but “ooh, what a girl”.  Does he prefer little girls all ribbons and curls, something traditionally attributed to children?

You’re my baby, you’re my pet,
We fell in love on the night we met.
You touched my hand, my heart went pop,
Ooh, when we kissed, I could not stop.

Now we see that she’s his pet, a bit of ownership there.  But they fell in love on the night we met.  The turn darker, because he’s singing about how she just turned sixteen, so presumably, they met and fell in love and there was a lot of kissing when she was much younger.  How much younger? We never really know, but certainly younger than sixteen.

thatsYou walked out of my dreams, into my arms,
Now you’re my angel divine.
You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.
You’re my baby, you’re my pet,
We fell in love on the night we met.
You touched my hand, my heart went pop,
Ooh, when we kissed, I could not stop.
You walked out of my dreams, into my car,
Now you’re my angel divine.

So at some point prior to her sixteenth birthday, she walked into his arms and she’s all his.  She’s his pet.  His baby.  Makes his heart go pop.  Again, lots of kissing with the 14 or 15 year old girl he’s in love with.  In his car… car.  She got into his car.  The plot thickens.  Given the innocence of the 50s, this sounds like a sweet tale of teenage love, two kids out for dates at the malt shop, seeing a movie, getting into her older boyfriend’s car and driving out to “Lover’s Lane” where I’m sure more than kissing was going on.  It’s sweet, and reflective of young love.  Until you realize that Johnny Burnette was 26 when he released this song.

Twenty.  Six.

Here’s a man of 26 years, singing of love for a girl who just turned 16, whom he’s been at least making out with since before she was sixteen.  And before you say that he’s just singing the song, someone else wrote it, that’s true.  It was written by the Sherman Brothers, who, if the song was written as late as possible, 1960, were even older than Johnny Burnette.  Johnny was 26 at the time he sang and released the song.  Robert Sherman would have been 35, and  Richard Sherman would have been 32.  So what exactly did two thirty year olds in the late 1950s know about kissing the strawberry wine lips of 14 and 15 year old girls?

(Note, the above is accurate, but meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek.  The world was a different place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and this was the equivalent of modern teenage pop songs).

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