About half a century ago, Gerry Goffin and Carole King came up with “Go Away Little Girl,” a song perhaps as morally complicated as their earlier “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”: the guy is having to say no to jailbait, after all. Which makes Donny Osmond’s version from 1971, when he was all of thirteen, seem a bit off-center, though Donny was utterly unironic in his delivery and managed somehow to pull it off. You won’t see Justin Bieber trying a song like this. (And Donny, to his eternal credit, has never disowned the song.)
The premise would resurface a few times: see, for instance, “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. I’m not sure how young these girls really are, though Chuck Berry can be heard practically licking his chops at “Sweet Little Sixteen.” (Or, for that matter, “Little Queenie,” who’s “too cute to be a minute over seventeen.”) The Beatles opted for seventeen you know what I mean? as did, um, Joan Jett. Steely Dan apparently drew the line at 19. Later on, we’d hear from Weezer (“there’s rules about old goats like me hangin’ ’round with chicks like you”).
Women, Joan Jett aside, were not usually concerned with this issue, though there were a couple of instances where the younger guy coveted the older woman see, for example, Paul Anka’s “Diana” (“I’m so young and you’re so old”), or, stretching it a bit, Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.”
Girls crushing on the older guy? Well, yeah, now and then. The most obvious case: the Poni-Tails with “Born Too Late” (“To you, I’m just a kid that you won’t date”). But the most heart-wrenching song of this sort, as least to the extent that my heart is subjected to torque, is right here:
“Wait For Me”, a smallish (#37 in Billboard) hit for the Playmates in 1960 you may remember them for “Beep Beep,” the tale of a Cadillac driver’s scorn for a little Nash Rambler, a couple years earlier is basically the logical extension of the Poni-Tails’ yearnfest “Born Too Late”, this time told from the guy’s point of view: he looks upon this young girl as mostly a pest, and by the time it dawns on him that maybe she was The One, she’s already spoken for. The song (by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance, whose biggest hit that year was Brian Hyland’s straight-faced reading of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”) isn’t exactly on par with the saga of Abelard and Heloise, but it left me with a case of the shivers. Not that anything like this has ever happened to me, of course.
What prompted all this: “Wait For Me” coming up in the shuffle, and the death of Lee Pockriss a couple weeks ago. And maybe some other things I’d just as soon not go into.