Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Jan Rhodes 45 – Undefined Trouble Places Burden On The Listener

The full-page ad placed in Billboard‘s August 17, 1968 issue promised controversy:

Bill Gavin, publisher of the influential Gavin Report is on record as saying “Mom (Can I Talk To You?)” by Jan Rhodes should be given airplay. If Gavin were still with us, I would very much like to ask him to qualify his enthusiastic support for the single’s A-side since (as 45Cat contributor boyjohn notes on behalf of listeners worldwide), Poor Jan really needs to talk to her mom about something, but we never really find out what it is:

Mom (Can I Talk To You?)”

Jan Rhodes (1968)

Hey Mom, can I come in – can I talk to you?

You’re always saying we’re gonna have a talk, but we never do.

Well now I need your help so bad, but you got to promise not to get mad,

’cause Mom I’m in trouble – Mom I’m in trouble.

It started weeks ago, it was late at night.

The place they say this wasn’t far away, and it looked all right.

Well I guess I was a foolish kid, because I didn’t know what I just did.

But Mom I’m in trouble – Mom I’m in trouble.

I know I’ve been a bad, bad girl, but now, don’t you see, I need sympathy.

Inside my head it’s driving me mad, and I’m feeling so bad for you and for Dad.

Well Mom I told you now, and I didn’t cry.

It’s hung me up real bad for several weeks, and I guess you know why.

Now this may sound funny to say, but I worry about you in a way,

’cause I know you wanna make something of me.

Well Mama just love me – just love me – Mama love me.

’cause Mom I’m in trouble.


Is this song about what I think it is? No, you go first: what troubling act did the singer commit that would warrant such shame and self-recrimination? And how relevant is it that the song was written by a man (John Meyer)?

First (and final) record for Jan Rhodes

Conducted & arranged by Dick Hyman


One can never be too old or too young to learn this invaluable life lesson from Fred Rogers:

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

How disappointing, therefore, to find that Cash Box considered the ‘most controversial record of the year’ — in which the protagonist alone bears the brunt of some unspecified misdeed of great consequence — to be a “tastefully presented soliloquy” that “materially and musically bridges the generations on a somewhat awkward subject.” Apparently, this 45 was considered state-of-the-art parenting on an especially hot topic that dared not speak its name.

The previous week, Cash Box had spilled the beans that John Meyer’s tasteful composition (spoiler alert!) “concerns a girl who is about to tell her mother she is pregnant.” That same week, Record World reported that “Mom (Can I Talk To You)” broke in Miami on Top 40 station WQAM, prompting Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler to strike a production deal with publisher Robert Colby of Blue Records, named for “Love Is Blue,” Colby’s premier copyright.

Though “Mom (Can I Talk To You)” was identified by Record World as a ‘Sleeper Pick of the Week,’ the single did not generate enough excitement to break the Hot 100 but, instead, hover encouragingly in the outer reaches of the pop charts — #25 on Cash Box‘s ‘Looking Ahead’ chart, #24 on Record World‘s ‘Singles Coming Up’ chart. With the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in 2022 that overturned Roe v. Wade, is it time to revisit this song?


From Cash Box‘s “Record Ramblings” column

Sept. 14, 1968

During Jan Rhodes’ one-time ride on the pop music rollercoaster Cash Box reported in its September 14, 1968 edition that the singer was unable at that time to fulfill her pet ambition of cultivating “the longest hair in New York,” as the theater and television roles for which she was being hired required a “trimmed look.”


LINK to Gender Politics in Popular Music

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