As I careen toward 60, I’m making increasingly desperate attempts to appear young-at-heart and switched-on. You should hear me screeching and hooting along with “Alejandro” on the car radio. I’m totally tuned in!
So what, when I am not pretending to be 14 years old, are my real musical tastes? This brings us to my iPod and the geriatric nostalgia concealed therein.
My playlist, by me:
1. “Substitute,” by the Who. This 1966 hit is literally the most perfect pop song every written. Gaga, take note of the scalpel-cut lyrics:
2. “Peter Gunn,” by Cherry Wainer. 1966 again! Nothing beats the sound of Cherry pounding the crap out of her Hammond. You Tube Cherry in action.
3. “Claire de Lune,” by Tomita. This trippy electronic version of Debussy’s classic was used extensively on The Robin Byrd Show back in the ’80s.
4. “Sound and Vision,” by David Bowie. Memory Lane: me and my demented pals, Biddie, Hattie, Sweep and Broom (nicknames were big in mid-’70s London) standing at the bar in the Blitz Club and all screaming in unison “Blue! Blue ’lectric blue! That’s the color of my room!” and feeling the exhilaration that comes from knowing your entire life is unfurling in front of you.
5. “People Are Strange,” by the Doors. Doors keyboard genius Ray Manzarek was a big fashion customer at the store (Maxfield) where I worked in L.A. in the late ’70s-early ’80s, and he was a real gent. So there!
6. “Animal Farm,” by the Kinks. Ray Davies was a visionary. This song foreshadows the whole back-to-the-farm-and-make-you-own-goat’s-cheese rustic fetish, which is now raging hilariously through our culture.
7. “Let It Whip,” by the Dazz Band. I have worshipped at the church of Don Cornelius since the ’70s. Soul Train remains the most important style show ever to assault the U.S. airwaves.
8. “Arnold Layne,” by Pink Floyd. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary artist—Justin Bieber for example—making a hit song about a dirty old geezer who gets his kicks stealing ladies’ knickers off washing lines.
9. “Sorrow,” by the Mersey Beats. 1966. Again! 10. “Les Sucettes,” by France Gall and Serge Gainsbourg. This was the song that scandalized Paree in 1966. The young and innocent Mademoiselle Gall was famously and shockingly duped, by Serge and others, into singing this double-entendre–riddled song about sucking lollipops. When she realized the full horror of her sordid and unwitting collusion, she barricaded herself at home and did not go out for weeks. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary chanteuse like Ke$ha experiencing this kind of embarrassment.
Re Ke$ha: I will be adding a little jejune sizzle to my remaining years by Ke$ha-izing the spelling of my name: et voilà! $imon!
Simon Doonan is a columnist for The New York Observer.