Singing the soundtrack for youth in Iran in the 1970s

PREVIEW Googoosh was the predominant soundtrack for youth in Iran in the 1970s. My mother came to the United States then as a college student and, like many other young Iranian girls at the time, was fascinated with Googoosh: her voice, her looks, her dancing, her fashions. Googoosh was the center of pop culture in music and cinema; her face on posters and billboards, her fans ranging from Ray Charles to the shah himself.

For today's middle-aged Iranians, listening to Googoosh is reminiscent not only of Iranian music of the '70s, but also of the family and culture they left behind. In 1979, following the Islamic Revolution, all female pop music was banned in Iran and Googoosh went into a 20-year silence. Her albums continued to resonate in the Middle East and greater Western world while she lived a subdued life in Tehran. In 2000, she held her first public performances in two decades, playing to more than 1 million adoring, nostalgic fans in the United States, Europe, and Middle East.

My friend Razmin handed me Googoosh's greatest hits CD when I was a junior in college. I was completely entranced. I still play it today and sense the power and timelessness of a style that incorporated so many elements of traditional Persian music (and even some '70s disco and psychedelic-folk) while maintaining an undeniably magnetic pop sensibility. I'm sure the term "voice of a generation" has been used and misused many times over, but I wouldn't know any other way to introduce the magnificent Googoosh.

GOOGOOSH Sat/21, 8 p.m. $49–$250. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakl. (510) 465-6400.

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