Young Man, Older Woman: Top Ten Cougar Anthems

Congratulations to Houston folksinger Glenna Bell. Her "The Cougar Anthem," from this year's Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder, was singled out Tuesday alongside Aaron Neville, Keith Richards, Norah Jones and Paul McCartney & Wings in USA Today's weekly "The Playlist" feature.

In the song, which is streaming on Bell's Web site, she makes no bones about why a certain young man has caught her eye: "He's 19 years old and hot." He's also carless and broke; not a dealbreaker, she explains, because "I've got my own money and I've got my own car." His lack of ex-wives is also a plus.

And so "The Cougar Anthem" joins an artistic tradition examining the allure of young men and older women - and often the problems created by their mutual attraction - that dates back to the days of Sophocles. As you might expect, the subject has come up once or twice in pop music before Bell got her, well, paws on it.

Just in case you're wondering if Rocks Off has ever enjoyed the company of an older woman, all we can say is sorry. We'll never tell.

10. Queen, "Fat Bottom Girls"

Musically, this glam-rock stomper is probably our favorite song on this list. Evidently Freddie Mercury's preference for the "lardy ladies" - hey, he said it, not us - dates back to his youth, when a certain naughty nanny named Big Fat Fanny made a bad boy out of him. Didn't she, though? God, we miss that dude.

9. Ronnie McDowell, "Older Women"

As much as we love honky-tonkers like Merle Haggard, Rocks Off rarely says no to a good slice of country cheese, and McDowell's all-but-lost 1981 gem is one our favorites. We still can't figure out how the Oak Ridge Boys never got ahold of it, though.

8. Weezer, "Across the Sea"

Before Weezer's records got so godawful that their fans started offering them millions of dollars to break up, the geek-rock gods accidentally invented emo on 1996's hyperconfessional Pinkerton. "Across the Sea" is our pick for the album's most TMI track: It's mostly about singer Rivers Cuomo's imaginary relationship with an 18-year-old Japanese fan, up to and including wondering how she pleasures herself. (Ew.) However, he also mentions that he used to shave his head because he thought older women would like it. We can't decide which is creepier.

7. 2 Live Crew, "Cougar"

Wondering whatever happened to those South Florida boys who were once as nasty as they wanted to be? According to "Cougar," released this past summer, they're into reggaeton, texting and not cussing anymore. Kind of sad, really.

6. Fountains of Wayne, "Stacy's Mom"

Poor Stacy. Hot as she may be, all she is in this 2003 tune - which made a lot of people mistake the New Jersey power-pop veterans for one-hit wonders - is a stalking horse for the hormones of her adolescent male classmates. In the video, those hormones are represented by a soda bottle that overflows just when Stacy's mom is getting undressed. What else?

5. Neil Diamond, "Desiree"

Oh yes. Feel the Neil. Desiree, who ushered a young Diamond into manhood on the third of June, sure did. Although it was only for one night, the memory lingered - on the fourth of June, Diamond sings, "I tossed and I turned while the thought of her burned up and down my mind." Great line.

4. Stevie Nicks, "Edge of Seventeen"

You've heard this song a million times, both the original and Destiny's Child's quasi-remake "Bootylicious," but have you ever wondered why it's called "Edge of Seventeen"? In between all of Nicks' talk about nightbirds, white-winged doves, clouds and the sea changing color, this might offer a clue: "He was no more than a baby then/ He seemed broken-hearted." Not for long, we're guessing.

3. Mary J. Blige, "Grown Woman"

"Tell your mama you in love with a grown woman." Yes, Miss Mary. What time shall we pick you up? Thanks, Ludacris, but we'll take it from here.

2. Millie Jackson, "Young Man, Older Woman"

Rocks Off will always love Georgia-born soul singer Jackson for giving us one of the best album covers of all time. On this 1991 slow jam, she doesn't need any of Nicks' frilly language to tell us what's going on: "You gotta be crazy, you're much too young/ Haven't you noticed that you could be my son?" The heart wants what it wants, though, and Jackson - who now does the afternoon-drive shift on Dallas soul station KKDA - later turned this song into a play about a woman who "lost the weight, lost her husband and lost her mind." You can buy the DVD here.

1. Simon & Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson"

Still on top. Sorry, couldn't resist. Although if not for its use in The Graduate, "Mrs. Robinson" wouldn't be anywhere near this list. What exactly does Joe DiMaggio have to do with having an affair with your fiancee's mother again? Does Paul Simon even know? Does Evan Dando?

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray