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Aug 06

GARY PUCKETT AND THE UNION GAP – “Young Girl”

FT + Popular123 comments • 7,393 views

#250, 25th May 1968

No connection between Ms Smith and Mr Puckett is implied, of course.Girls ‘turning out to be’ underage was doubtless a very real concern for your gigging rock star of the 60s and 70s, though I suspect a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy would be closer to the truth than Gary Puckett’s horrified self-denial. Puckett lays out the classic Lolita defense – grown man no match for deceitful nymphet with her skirts and make-up and “come-on look”. There’s something breathily weak, tearful almost, about Puckett’s vocals on the verse which makes the whole thing sleazier: his struggling for control is all too convincing. The sleaze has a strong setting: Puckett’s songwriters were highly regarded and the chorus especially is the sort of thing I might find myself bellowing along to in the pub, leaving me with a feeling of nervous shame the next day. A good match of content and effect, then.

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Comments

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  1. 101
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 25 Mar 2011 #

    THEY’RE NOT LISTENING STILL! PERHAPS THEY NEVER WILL! <– this means us

  2. 102
    punctum on 25 Mar 2011 #

    His popularity in Britain did wane following the inexorable rise of his near-namesake, zany Brummie funnyman Don Maclean, pronounced as in opposite of dirty, viz. “Maclean!” “Yes I had a bath this morning.” What chance did Playing Favourites stand against his classic renditions of “Golden Years,” “A Glass Of Champagne” etc.?

  3. 103
    Mark G on 25 Mar 2011 #

    So how does the pronounciation differ? Aren’t they both “clean” ?

  4. 104
    punctum on 25 Mar 2011 #

    No, Don “American Pie” McLean rhymes with “wane.”

  5. 105
    Jimmy the Swede on 26 Mar 2011 #

    I’m going to resist the severe temptation of plunging in to another discussion with punctum regarding Crackerjack Don and the way he and dear old Peter Glaze used to present bizarre versions of chart hits of the day. Peter’s rendition of Boz Scaggs’ “Lido Shuffle” was and is legendary.

    The less pleasant side of Don arose when he presented the God slot show for Radio 2 (now in the hands of the perfectly decent Aled Jones) and seemed to suggest that George Harrison’s passing would provide George the opportunity of atoning for his part in “Life of Brian”.

  6. 106
    Erithian on 27 Mar 2011 #

    Shades of Rowan Atkinson as the Devil welcoming souls to Hell: “Everyone who saw Monty Python’s Life of Brian? – Sorry, I’m afraid He can’t take a joke after all…”

  7. 107
    wichita lineman on 28 Mar 2011 #

    Andy Partridge said in Smash Hits that he knew he was a proper pop star when Peter Glaze sang Making Plans For Nigel.

    I wonder if Don Maclean had a go at Don McLean’s Crying a few months later?

  8. 108
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 Mar 2011 #

    This “singing a pop song of the day” lark was replicated on a truly dire pop show from the end of the seventies on ITV called “Get It Together”. One of the presenters was Roy North, one time oppo of Basil Brush. The spot in question opened the show unlike in “Crackerjack” when it arrived in a costume sketch piece towards the end.

    Roy once stuck a peg at the end of his hooter and treated us to a rendidtion of “Ma Na Ma Na”. The look he received from fellow presenter Linda Fletcher, a sturdy good time-looking gal, echoed the thoughts of us all in suggesting that North should have been sectioned.

  9. 109
    Paulito on 29 Mar 2011 #

    @85: Interesting comment about “Dirty, Dirty Feeling” and how such dodgy lyrics didn’t appear to bother the censors of the day, although they were happy to ban popular songs that they saw as in any way blasphemous or sexually immoral. Another example of this phenomenon is ‘You Been Torturing Me’, a minor US hit in 1961 both for the Four Young Men and for Gary “Alley Oop” Paxton. As far as I know, neither version was banned or censored in any state, yet the lyrics are possibly the most unpleasant I’ve ever heard in a mainstream pop song. Herewith in full:

    “I’m gonna stomp you on the top of your foot
    And hang you from a big long fishing hook
    And drop you down to the bottom of the sea, hey-hey
    Let the sharks eat you all up
    If them mean old whales don’t interrupt
    Cos baby you know how you been torturing little ol’ me
    Hey-hey

    “I’m the judge, the jury too
    Judgement has been brought upon you
    You been convicted for the crime you’ve done
    You made me feel like a little ol’ crumb

    “You know it’s wrong to torture me
    You love my friends the same way you love me
    And like Tom, I don’t wanna hang from a big oak tree over you
    When I say hop, I mean make like a frog
    And when I say bark, you better sound like a dog
    Cos I’m gonna torture you
    The same way you been torturing little ol’ me, hey-hey”

    The song is too stupid to be in any way ironic, although the singer’s goofy drawl (in either version) presumably signifies that it’s meant to be humorous, playful even. It doesn’t sound that way.

    Examples such as the above, the Elvis lyric cited by Mutley and, of course, the (in)famous line “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man” as featured in numbers by the King and later the Fabs – all of which were untroubled by bans of any kind, AFAIK – seem to show how, notwithstanding their general overweening piety and censoriousness, the moral authorities of the day weren’t too bothered about suggestions of rape/murderous revenge for female infidelity appearing in music for kiddies and juveniles. I’m not remotely suggesting that such songs should have been banned (indeed, the use of the “see you dead” line in ‘Baby Let’s Play House’ gives the song a deliciously dark undertone), merely that they reflect the misogynistic “angels or whores” attitude to women that was so common in those days and so rarely challenged at the time.

  10. 110
    Snif on 31 Mar 2011 #

    Then there’s Goffin and King’s “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)”…

    He hit me
    And it felt like a kiss
    He hit me
    But it didn’t hurt me

    He couldn’t stand to hear me say
    That I’d been with someone new,
    And when I told him I had been untrue

    He hit me
    And it felt like a kiss
    He hit me
    And I knew he loved me

    If he didn’t care for me
    I could have never made him mad
    But he hit me
    And I was glad

    Yes, he hit me
    And it felt like a kiss
    He hit me
    And I knew I loved him
    And then he took me in his arms
    With all the tenderness there is,
    And when he kissed me,
    He made me his

  11. 111
    wichita lineman on 31 Mar 2011 #

    Goffin & King also wrote Please Hurt Me for Little Eva.

    Their psychological S&M tendencies, presumably drawn for their own relationship, make them my favourite Brill Building team.

    People REALLY objected to He Hit Me at the time, though. Even though it fell between two of the Crystals biggest hits (Uptown and He’s A Rebel) it didn’t chart and didn’t get airplay.

    The flip side of He Hit Me, No One Ever Tells You, is almost as bleak, but with a resigned wrist-slashing lyric, and a valium-fuelled arrangement. Great!

  12. 112
    Erithian on 31 Mar 2011 #

    A shout out, surely, at this point for Spiritualized’s “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)”!

    Hard to imagine Carole King being involved with a song like that.

  13. 113
    Mark G on 31 Mar 2011 #

    #111 but did they? It sits on their debut album without outrage (the album wasn’t banned).

    I’m more of the opinion that it was not a hit because the track is slow, morose, and has no good-time vibe like “He’s a rebel” and “da doo ron ron” (don’t know “Uptown” off-hand) so probably didn’t get airplay for all sorts of reasons.

  14. 114
    vinylscot on 31 Mar 2011 #

    A more up-to-date example would be Florence and the Machine’s, “Kiss Like A Fist” which was inexplicably used as a continmuity ad on BBC TV for a time. Does it get away with it because it’s a happy wee tune…. or because it’s being sung by a female?

    You hit me once
    I hit you back
    You gave a kick
    I gave a slap
    You smashed a plate
    Over my head
    Then I set fire to our bed

    You hit me once
    I hit you back
    You gave a kick
    I gave a slap
    You smashed a plate
    Over my head
    Then I set fire to our bed

    My black eye casts no shadow
    Your red eye sees no pain
    Your slaps don’t stick
    Your kicks don’t hit
    So we remain the same
    Blood sticks and sweat drips
    Break the lock if it don’t fit
    A kick in the teeth is good for some
    A kiss with a fist is better than none
    A-woah, a kiss with a fist is better than none

    Broke your jaw once before
    Spilled your blood upon the floor
    You broke my leg in return
    Sit back and watch the bed burn
    Well love sticks, sweat drips
    Break the lock if it don’t fit
    A kick in the teeth is good for some
    A kiss with a fist is better than none
    A-woah, a kiss with a fist is better than none

    You hit me once
    I hit you back
    You gave a kick
    I gave a slap
    You smashed a plate over my head
    Then I set fire to our bed

    You hit me once
    I hit you back
    You gave a kick
    I gave a slap
    You smashed a plate over my head
    Then I set fire to our bed

  15. 115
    Mark G on 31 Mar 2011 #

    Possibly because she gives as good as she gets.

  16. 116
    wichita lineman on 31 Mar 2011 #

    Mark, I think the fact the lyric on He Hit Me is so bare – with the stark, blunt arrangement suggesting brute violence – just meant that everyone heard the lyrics, and felt queasy. I didn’t say it was banned.

    I’m sure there are quotes from Lester Sill on how no radio station would touch it. It didn’t even merit a UK release. When copies turn up on ebay they are almost always promos – no one bought it.

    For the record, I think it’s amazing, so shocking it feels like it stops time.

    Songs like Dirty Dirty Feeling or Run For Your Life are upbeat and danceable, so the impact of the lyric is considerably lessened. How often to you hear people say “I don’t really listen to lyrics that much”?

  17. 117
    Cumbrian on 31 Mar 2011 #

    Wiki has a source (from allmusic.com – so take that for what it is worth) claiming that He Hit Me is grounded in truth – that Goffin and King found out that Little Eva’s boyfriend was abusing her and asked why she stayed with him and got the gist of the song as a response. I suspect them writing this and giving Please Hurt Me to Little Eva might well have been them trying to get her to wake up (although this might be charitable – I can’t for the life of me imagine why else you would give her songs to sing about her own domestic violence situation, so I assume it is intervention by song).

  18. 118
    wichita lineman on 31 Mar 2011 #

    Yes that sounds familiar, maybe it’s in the Alan Betrock Girl Groups book or Always Magic In The Air. G&K’s autobigraphical songs tend to be more psychological torment than physical.

  19. 119
    punctum on 16 Jun 2011 #

    TPL offers yet more thoughts on “Young Girl” and nineteen other pieces which come together to form an unexpectedly moving picture:

    http://nobilliards.blogspot.com/2011/06/various-artists-20-flash-back-greats-of.html

  20. 120
    Mutley on 17 Jun 2011 #

    Re the discussion above (around late March 2011)about censorship and banning records, this is an appropriate spot to mention the recent death of Carl Gardner, lead singer of the Coasters, who produced a string of rock’n’roll Leiber and Stoller classics in the mid to late 50s, including Charlie Brown, which was banned by the BBC because of the use of the word “spitball”. I believe the BBC later rescinded its ban following popular protest.

  21. 121
    Lena on 13 Dec 2011 #

    And if you think this song’s bad; well, let’s just say at least she’s alive: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/12/laugh-until-you-cry-bobby-goldsboro.html

    Ta for reading, everyone!

  22. 122
    intothefireuk on 10 Sep 2013 #
  23. 123
    lonepilgrim on 25 May 2016 #

    I can remember very clearly hearing this at the time as it is a bit of an ear worm and GP sings the hell out of it but there’s no denying its problematic lyrics. You can pick up similar sentiments in other songs as detailed above. I’ve always found ‘Your life, little girl, is an empty page/That men will want to write on’ and the whole of ‘You are Sixteen, going on Seventeen’ from ‘The Sound of Music’ pretty creepy.

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