Boudewijn De Groot: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 1, 2022

305) Boudewijn de Groot — “Een Meisje Van 16 (A Young Girl of 16)”

On the first day of this new year, I’d like to remind everyone that here at Off the Charts/Brace for the Obscure, it is always Groundhog Day, always the Sixties. So, on to our first song of the year, an oft-covered morality tale about an impressionable girl of 16 led astray by a seductive vagabond. This great song has a long pedigree beginning in 1951 as a French chanson. What I think is really interesting is that it was covered so often back in an era when rock stars notoriously had underage girlfriends or groupies. Didn’t it hit a little close to home? (see https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/music/11-rock-stars-allegedly-slept-with-underage-girls-bowie-elvis-jagger-page-7980930). It is also strange that the song hasn’t experienced a resurgence of popularity in this era of Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein.

In any event, “Une Enfant” was written in French by the legendary Charles Aznavour and Robert Chauvigny, and the equally legendary Edith Piaf released its first recording in ‘51. Aznavour himself released a version in ‘55. The Dutch version was written by Lennaert Nijgh and the great Boudewijn De Groot (see #107, 161) was the first to release it (as a single in ‘65 and as a track on his first album in ‘66). The English version — ‘Young Girl” — was written by Oscar Brown, Jr. He released a recording in ‘63. Glenn Yarbrough and Noel Harrison (son of Rex) each released versions in ‘65. Harrison’s reached #51 on the Billboard pop chart in December of that year. Cher released a version the following year. Peter and Gordon had a version in ‘67 (which I don’t think is very good). (https://secondhandsongs.com/performance/4453/versions).

I think De Groot’s infectious (yes, I know, a strange word for this song, but listen) version is the best of the 60’s. While he sings in Dutch, here are lyrics to the English version:

“She left her neighborhood in which everyone was filthy rich. She left her parents’ home and strayed with a vagabond who made vows of love she’d never heard. And she believed his every word. She left no forwarding address, just took her youth and happiness. As with the boy she vanished in, the secret sweetness of their sin. A young girl. A young girl of sixteen. Child of springtime, still green. Lying here by the road. He told her love demanded space. So they roamed from place to place. Although she realized she’d sin, she threw caution to the wind. As she followed him around while he slowly dragged her down. So overpowering was her love that it had made a captive of the young girl’s heart and soul and mind. In other words love drove her blind. A young girl. A young girl of sixteen. Child of springtime, still green. Lying here by the road. Too much emotion for a girl. She let her heart become her world. But worlds that God has never wrought fall asunder we are taught. Had she been wiser she’d have known she couldn’t feed him love alone. She should have known the day would come when he would quit her just for crumbs. He wanted fresh new meat to carve and left her heart and mind to starve. A young girl. A young girl of sixteen. Child of springtime, still green. Lying here by the road dead.”

Here is Edith Piaf:

Here is Charles Aznavour:

Here is Oscar Brown, Jr.:

Here is Noel Harrison:

Here is Cher:

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