It's hardly even news when school teachers have sex with their teenage students. Judges dismiss cases of "statutory rape" because, "she didn't look underage," and today's tweens are just emulating pop idols like Miley Cyrus. Folks don't raise an eyebrow about the tween brides being abused by some of the fine, fine religions of the Middle East and Africa...and in parts of the South, a 14 year-old can marry Jerry Lee Lewis.
A song like "Only Sixteen" is almost laughable now. Brooke Shields wasn't even 14 when she starred in "Pretty Baby." Ebay sellers can actually post nude Polaroids and if the seller says "model is 18," then it's ok. They don't even ask that the seller supply proof, something that even Hustler's "Barely Legal" magazines do.
Now, nobody would have a problem with "Shadow," a song that got very little radio play when it came out. This probably surprised Mr. Taylor, who'd had a hit, after all, with "Love Child," covered by The Supremes. But that was only about a bastard birth, so big deal. He may have sent this to The Four Tops, expecting Levi Stubbs to shout:
"Hair dark, black as coal, eyes that look into your soul, touch that makes you lose control...
"Shadow you drag me down, but every day I love you more! Shadow you bring me down, and every day I need you more than the day before! Body of a woman mind of a child. Shadow you sure do drive me wild. You're only 14 years old."
You might recall the name R. Dean Taylor. He wrote one of the classics of rock-crime insanity, the brilliantly schlocky "Indiana Wants Me." It even had sound effects (though the police sirens were edited out of subsequent pressings). He sang it as a love letter to his wife: "I'll never see the morning sun shine on the land. I'll never see your smiling face or touch your hand. If just once more I could see you, our home, and OUR LITTLE BABY."
Why was he on the run? Because, "If a man ever needed dying he did. No one has the right to say what he said about you." We're always told "verbal abuse is legal. Don't take the law into your own hands." But we're also told not to touch jail bait. And in this song, the criminal of "Indiana Wants Me" has a definite misdemeanor on his mind.
Who knows. In another year or two, when we have a pop singer even younger and lewder than Miley Cyrus, or some rapper even cruder than R. Kelly, somebody will dig up this song and take it to the Top Ten.
Actually the most regrettable failure in the R. Dean Taylor catalog is the milder but wilder "There's a Ghost In My House." Considering he was tight with Motown (he recorded on a subsidiary of it), it's a shame The Four Tops didn't grab "Ghost." Maybe they were sick of those "rooms of gloom" songs, and didn't want to deal with an entire house. Or maybe people would think the "ghost" in the house was a white guy.
"Shadow" is probably a black girl. But white or black, tweens knows all about sex now. They can see all the porn they want on the Internet. They laugh at gobs of semen stuck in Cameron Diaz's hair in a harmless film comedy their parents took 'em to see. The "age of innocence" in the 21st century isn't 18. 16. Or even 14. It's probably closer to 8, when a child can say something filthy and get a reply of "where did you learn THAT?" The answer: "I Googled it."