45: “Mom (Can I Talk to You?)” b/w “Chasin’ Honey” by Jan Rhodes. Blue Records 1001. Recorded in 1968.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

This one is mysterious. For one thing, the label, according to a few different sources, only released this one single right here. But it had distribution through Atlantic Records, so it clearly had more of a shot at chart success than that of the typical vanity label. Then you have the singer, Miss Jan Rhodes, who was all of sixteen years old when she recorded these two songs, and apparently, she never recorded anything else. Then you have that glorious sleeve: A serious, questioning girl looks towards the future, or her boyfriend, or her mom, for counsel. Just below her chin, the copy reads:

This is Jan Rhodes.

She is 16 years old.

This is her first record.

We believe it is an important record.

Why is it important, you may ask? Well, as the song tells us, Jan needs to talk to her mom—something they say they should do more often even though it still rarely happens. You see, Jan is in trouble. Not the “I forgot to study for the Algebra test” kind of trouble, but in trouble. As in, “That girl got herself in trouble and now she’s off to Mexico for a few days to take care of it.”

Teen pregnancy is a serious issue, of course. And it made a brave kind of sense to have a teenager actually sing about it herself—especially if you wanted to get the message of staying out of trouble out there to teenage girls. So, way to go Jan Rhodes and Blue Records. However, it might have been even more effective if the words pregnant, abortion, or, you know, sex were allowed to be spoken. But they weren’t, at least not on this recording. Which leads one to think that this was made even more for the benefit of parents than for teenagers. The Silent Generation was not prone to open discussion on these topics, which, the song points out, was a big part of the problem. One imagines that teenage baby boomers in the summer of 1968 were probably pretty eager to discuss all manner of sexual issues, but parents of the time needed a girl their daughters’ age to use words that they were comfortable with. A tasteful arrangement that sounds a bit like Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic” certainly didn’t hurt; Dick Hyman is responsible for that. He would later go on to handle the music for most of Woody Allen’s films,

The B side is an up-tempo number about fearless, youthful optimism that would have been perfect as the theme song for a “That Girl” type of sitcom. Unfortunately, a full video clip couldn’t be tracked down, but 90 seconds of it can be found in the player at the bottom of the page of this clever eBay salesman. Strange, isn’t it, how songs from 1968 can be so much harder to research than songs from 1925?

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