Music and changing mores

January 16, 2017

underageThis is a post about Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, the group’s 1968 song “Young Girl” and changing mores. I know, what a combination, right?

MO-RES is a noun that is pronounced ˈmôrāz/ and means the characteristic customs and conventions of a community. Our practices and habits.

And for those not old enough to remember the song, here it is. It’s about a guy who is hot for an underage girl.

When I heard it the other day, it was a bit disturbing. It occurred to me that a song like this would NEVER get airplay in the 21st century because our social mores have changed. And the lyrics to the song prove how much they’ve changed.

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You’re much too young, girl
With all the charms of a woman
You’ve kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe
You’re old enough
To give me Love
And now it hurts to know the truth

What a vixen to trick Gary like that! Because of course, he has no responsibility for making sure she’s legal before having sex. She led him on!

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You’re much too young, girl
Beneath your perfume and make-up
You’re just a baby in disguise
And though you know
That it’s wrong to be
Alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes

Girl as Jezebel! How the hell old is she? Maybe 14 or so? With a come-on look? What about the actual come-on that guys give girls? Looking at it that way, it doesn’t make such a great song, does it, Gary?

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You’re much too young, girl
So hurry home to your Mama
I’m sure she wonders where you are

She still lives with Mama. These days you can be 25 and still live with Mama. Back then? Not so much. So she’s pretty–she’s also pretty young, Gary. Wasn’t living with Mama a big clue to her underage status?

Get out of here
Before I have the time
To change my mind
‘Cause I’m afraid we’ll go too far

What? You can’t control yourself? Gary, who’s the adult here?

I’m sure today Gary is horrified that the tinges of what today would be called pedophilia color this song now and remind us that in the 1960s and 1970s, pedophilia was under wraps. As Baby Boomers know, a song like this would NEVER be interpreted the way we might do so today. Rightly or wrongly, it really would be considered a song about pedophilia.

Of course, today’s popular tune lyrics openly address blow jobs, sex, “hos” and all sorts of things. But not pedophilia.

What do you think? And are there any songs you remember that today seem inappropriate?

44 comments on “Music and changing mores
  1. My mom forbade my sister to buy a copy of the song “I Think We’re Alone Now” because there is a line in it that says:” And we tumble to the ground and then you say
    I think we’re alone now,
    There doesn’t seem to be anyone around
    I think we’re alone now,
    The beating of our hearts is the only sound” So the offending phrase was “and we tumble to the ground”. I guess it was going to lead to something else. My sister’s best friend got her the record so then my mom couldn’t say anything. 🙂 But yes–mores have definitely changed and now I have Young Girl in my head . Have a great one, Carol.

  2. Carla says:

    I love how you find twists on everything, muse and write about it, and spark me to think: I can’t believe I never thought about that.

  3. I thought Every Breath You Take by Sting was creepy then, but it would be creepier today. And of course, Baby Its Cold Outside is now considered the holiday date rape song all across the land.

  4. Cyn says:

    Brilliant! Knowing is healing.
    I’ve become an expert at burying sounds, smells and faces of the peds in my past. The backstory is deep, I’m still crawling my way out of the mores of yore that wagged an accusing finger at me, even as a pre-schooler. From time to time, a song will resurrect them and from the safety of who I am now, I can stare them down.
    Lyrics of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” comes to mind…ashamed being the key word, Not anymore.

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Wow, I never really listened to all the words attention to that song. Like so many song of today, I usually focus on the musicality and the beat. I tend to sing my own words half the time as I can’t understand the words most of the time.

  6. It’s amazing to see things that were acceptable before that in this day would not. I’ve heard songs from today that wouldn’t be acceptable at any time!

  7. Wow, I never thought of that song from this perspective–an eye (ear?)-opener! Another song that comes to mind (because I just heard it this past weekend) is Meat Loaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” It makes me cringe because the guy is basically saying I’ll have sex with you, but I don’t and won’t ever love you, and the woman is crying because she wants his love. I want to yell at her to stand her ground and walk out, that just because he’s being “honest,” she doesn’t have to settle.

    On the flip side, remember when the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” was banned (on the Ed Sullivan Show, I believe) because it was too risqué?

  8. Barbara says:

    So many ‘oldies’ got away with so much, but if you were never a target of a pedophile you probably wouldn’t have given it any thought. The fact that we are more aware today and yet the lyrics are much worse, is more frightening to me.

  9. Debbie D. says:

    I’ve never thought of the song in that light before! Yes, the times and mores have certainly changed. We’ve become more sensitive to some things, which is good in most cases (like pedophilia), but sometimes, it gets to the point of finding offence where none exists, at least not intentionally. There are several articles online devoted to favourite songs which have now become “creepy”. Even my beloved “Maggie May” was on there. Sigh…

  10. Kat says:

    Oh definitely today’s political corectness wouldn’t let that song to be released with those lyrics!:)) I’ve never heard of that song before, I need to check it out!

  11. Laurie Stone says:

    I’ll give Gary a little credit. At least he had the presence of mind to know it was a no-no. Some guys would plow through with that “come on look” and age be damned.

  12. My unpopular opinion among my friend group is that the songs “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke are extremely rapey. I mentioned it to a (13-years-younger, female) friend of mine who pooh-pooh’d me, saying that I was overinterpreting the lyrics…and besides, they’re such good songs.

    As for pedophilic…take a look at the lyrics of George Michael’s song “Father Figure” sometime. 🙂 “I will be your father figure, put your tiny hand in mine, I will be your preacher, teacher, anything you have in mind.”

  13. Wow, I will never be able to listen to that song the same way again. I remember singing along to the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and feeling so scandalous!

  14. Diane says:

    I loved this song! I always dreamed that some ‘older’ guy would find me attractive. Of course my schoolmate in eleventh grade did have an older guy find her attractive. And had a baby and marriage by 16 to go with it. Kinda killed the song for me! For me, any song that includes the words, “No one will ever love you like I do!” How do you say ‘yikes’?!

  15. Camille says:

    I remember that song well. I was fifteen whenit came out. While I agree that it has a much different meaning now than it did then, I wonder if we’re being a little harsh on old Gary P. After all, he could be singing about an eighteen yo man/boy and his sixteen yo girlfriend. That’s a pretty common age match up even in today’s world. And no guy should be unable to control himself, I agree. But I think Gary’s just trying to evoke the passion of two young kids. And hey, an older guy is pretty desirable to a young girl. Seduction is all part of the game, as it were. I say cut Gary P. some slack.

  16. Nellwyn says:

    I’m younger than a Baby Boomer and I always thought this song was so weird and awkward… Bruce Springsteen’s Im On Fire also has some strange connotations but it’s such a pretty melody

  17. This does seem pretty inappropriate. All the “young girl” references … I’m a mother to two girls, and this song creeped me out.

  18. I’ve always caught the meaning. It may be because I’m a guy. You see a girl who is charming and a bit “ahead of her time” and you immediately go into risk assessment mode. The girl may or may not realize the extent of her charms, but it certainly isn’t my place to teach her.

  19. Amber Myers says:

    Oh my! I remember some Boys II Men songs that I loved as a teen were rather inappropriate and about having sex and all of that. Oops.

  20. amer says:

    it’s amazing how things change, that kind of lyrics were acceptable back then but has a different interpretation in this generation.

  21. Caitlin says:

    This song has always cracked me up because he sings it with SUCH CONVICTION! It’s so cringe-y.

  22. Interesting point on how times and mores change and are reflected in pop culture. I’ve had similar thoughts about old Popeye cartoons. They are really disturbing when you see them from an adult POV.

  23. From what I remember, Pearl Jam’s band name itself had a bit of controversy back then. Even their songs allegedly had a double meaning to it, but I love them anyway. 🙂

  24. Kelly Reci says:

    woah. is it something a double meaning song? I have heard that song but not interested, it’s not in my line of genre. it is fine anyway but after reading this post, I have to think twice. lol!

  25. Krysten says:

    There are so many songs that now that I listen to them today seem super inappropriate. That song is one of them.
    At least today’s songs are outright inappropriate. 😛

  26. Well, music evolves like you said. There are songs back then that when we heard them today that we’re older and understood what the lyrics all about make us cringe. But I still think the songs nowadays are downright offensive. Or maybe I’m just too sensitive because youngsters now are so impressionable and more exposed to the media than we were when we were younger.

  27. Those lyrics are pretty shocking. You’re right about changing mores since I’m sure older generations would be shocked by some of today’s music but then again these lyrics shock me. It’s not that surprising when you consider that big rock stars like Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger were all allegedly involved with underage girls.

  28. Anna nuttall says:

    I feel really silly now as I don’t think I’ve heard this song before.

  29. I love how you are deciphering all this music lately! It’s so interesting. The poets of today that are very popular are definitely sending some very mixed messages. We need to work to guard our children from such inappropriateness in my opinion. I try to keep my girls as innocent as long as I can possible!

  30. Elizabeth O. says:

    This song sure is going to make any parent jump up and become alarmed. But then again, the songs today are just as alarming.

  31. Kaitlyn says:

    There are so many songs like this where you don’t even realize what they are saying until you pull up the actual lyrics. Music ha such a way of creating an emotional response that you can totally tune out what the message of the song is.


  32. Robin Rue says:

    This song has never really come to my mind in this light before. I am seriously shocked at the music that young kids are listening to these days.

  33. Yvonne says:

    This is a song I always just sing too and never thought about the lyrics. You have opened my eyes!

  34. Jill Conyers says:

    This is so interesting. I’m going to think about this. I’m sure there are songs that I would think inappropriate now.

  35. Ashlea says:

    I definitely never even heard of this song. I am a 90s baby so that is probably why. I have heard very vulgar songs growing up but never anything like this.

  36. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that song actually! The lyrics are…interesting to say the least!

  37. It’s funny how some songs like that would be considered inappropriate these days. I’ve heard people say that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” sounds a bit rapey in today’s culture, but it meant something different in the past.

  38. I have always loved this song! Thanks for sharing at #OverTheMoon!

  39. Kait says:

    It’s crazy to listen to the lyrics of songs sometimes! Especially when you realize what some are saying!

  40. Karlyn Flores says:

    I love this post and I really love this song, Glad you share this with us

  41. Stacey says:

    This has been a constant theme in society, Lyrics like this, books like Lolita, terms like sugar daddy are a part of of our culture.It’s not always about sex either, its more about the shifting in power.

  42. pest control says:

    I love this post and I really love this song, Glad you share this with us

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