Saturday, 9 April 2011

17: The Knack, “My Sharona” (no.6, 1979)

Just as certain cartoon characters have been drawn to appear immediately recognisable in silhouette (Bart Simpson, Mickey Mouse etc.), here’s a song that you know (and you know is going to be good) right from its opening drum and guitar riff. “My Sharona” is indeed a song of many great bits, from the frankly orgasmic “my-my-my-ai-ah-whoo!” that ends every verse to the unexpectedly classy guitar solo outro - almost classy enough, in fact, to cover up the sheer, unavoidable dodginess of the song’s lyrical content.

Detailing Knack lead singer Doug Fieger’s obsession with his then 17-year-old girlfriend Sharona Alperin, this is - there can be no avoiding it - an utterly dubious and disreputable recording. “I always get it up/For the touch/Of the younger kind,” boasts Fieger, as we hope, for his sake, that he’s talking about constructing an interactive exhibit in the Natural History Museum. Even listening to the song in the squeaky-clean context of a convenience store wigout in 1994’s MTV romance Reality Bites, one’s first recourse - after wanting to be more like Ethan Hawke - is to ask for a hot shower. (And not because said clip features 1994-era Winona Ryder.) Youth, sadly, cannot last forever: Fieger, of course, passed away last year; Sharona herself became an estate agent; and the rest of us are left to ponder how a British equivalent, “My Sharon”, probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as intoxicating.

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