My Top 1000 Songs #467: San Diego Zoo
Beyond his flagship Magnetic Fields, Stephin Merritt has helmed myriad side projects over the years, most sticking to the general synth-based whimsical, lyrically-brilliant new wave-flavored indie rock template with various twists. My favorite is The 6ths, whose 1995 Wasps' Nests featured a who's-who of indie rock stars taking vocal leads. Plenty of great songs, but the stand-out for me is "San Diego Zoo," featuring Barbara Manning. It's a gentle ditty, sweet and simple and endlessly endearing, buoyed immeasurably by a particularly winning vocal delivery by Manning, childlike and heartwarming and something you just want to wrap in hugs.
Plus, it's got one of those choruses which is minimalist and matter-of-fact yet feels deeply moving. "Highway 405 will take you from the Boom Boom Room, to Interstate 5 which goes right to the San Diego Zoo. How could I have ever left you?"