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Were our fathers and grandfathers pedophiles and simpletons?

The 1950s was when you smoked in schools, when people wore cardigans unironically while offering good bowling advice, and when you could literally leave your door unlocked at night and expect a neighbor to have delivered apple pie before dawn.

It was also the era of Twilight Zone, and I mean that seriously. People in the 1950s were batshit crazy! Case in point…

Rockabilly idol Johnny Burnette sang this song written by the Sherman Brothers. It’s called You’re Sixteen.

Let that sink in for a spell. A grown man (Burnette was 26 when the tune was released) singing about picking up an underage girl and getting intimate with her. The only creepier thing would be if Ringo Starr sang this. Oh wait… he recorded a cover in 1974 and it went to #1. Here are the lyrics:

Ooh, you come out of a dream,
Peaches and cream,
Lips like strawberry wine,
You’re sixteen,
You’re beautiful and you’re mine.

You’re all ribbons and curls,
Oh, what a girl!
Eyes that twinkle and shine,
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”,
And ooh, when we kissed we could not stop.

You walked out of my dream,
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 we could not stop.

You walked out of my dreams, and into my car,
Now you’re my angel divine,
You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.
—-

Okay, so our ancestors were dirty old men. But did you know they were also numskulls? This was the kind of song that climbed charts:

That was Peanut Butter by the Marathons (aka The Vibrations). Deep, isn’t it? I guess it’s the 50s equivalent of Rebecca Black’s Friday. Believe it or not, it took FOUR GUYS to write this (Bill Barnum, Martin Cooper, Cliff Goldsmith, Fred Smith). Here are the memorable lyrics:

There’s a food goin’ around that’s a sticky sticky goo
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Oh well it tastes real good, but it’s so hard to chew
(Peanut, peanut butter)
All my friends tell me that they dig it the most
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Early in the morning when they spread it on toast
(Peanut, peanut butter)
I like peanut butter, creamy peanut butter
Chunky peanut butter too

C’mon now, take a lesson now
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Open up your jar now
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Spread it on your cracker now
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Chomp now
(Peanut, peanut butter)
I like peanut butter, creamy peanut butter
Chunky peanut butter too

Well, I went to a dinner and what did they eat
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Ah-well, I took a big bite and it stuck to my teeth
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Now everybody look like they got the mumps
(Peanut, peanut butter)
Just-a eatin’ peanut butter in-a great big hunks
(Peanut, peanut butter)
I like peanut butter, creamy peanut butter
Chunky peanut butter too
I like peanut butter, creamy peanut butter
Chunky peanut butter too

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2 Responses

  1. Though I’m sure there were many ‘Batshit crazy’ things that happened back then I’m not sure the song was one of them. Johnny Burnette was supposed to represent the rebellious teen and not be seen as a twenty-six year old man. and unlike today’s lyrics he never went further than kissing. Maybe the Ringo Starr version was creepier because he wasn’t represented as a teen but we’d well left the fifties by then.
    The Marathons ! Well, it seems they like peanut butter. Sounds like this could have been a rejected advertising jingle or perhaps they just enjoyed a little corporate sponsorship to record this. Batshit crazy? Hell yes, I can’t stand the stuff. Now if someone was to make a song about Pickled Onion Crisps ( potato chips) that would be perfectly normal.

    • I was in the car when I first heard that peanut butter song; my uncle was driving and he always needs an oldies station when he’s driving. He’s probably a world-renowned authority on old-timey rock ‘n roll and even he was agape at the sheer stupidity of that song!

      I think in the 50s you didn’t put much thought into what you were saying about. Make the words rhyme and you’re golden 🙂

      *bracing for the inevitable impact of thrown tomatoes*

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