Monday, April 26, 2010

Five More Great Songs about Los Angeles

Another year, another LA Times Festival of Books. I saw a lot of people and got to talk to almost no one for any length of time, and I spent all day Saturday and Sunday with my head bent over a credit card machine and a calculator in The Mystery Bookstore's booth. (I'm sorry, I no longer have any upper peripheral vision; if my head is even slightly down, it is impossible to catch my eye. I don't see anything I'm not looking at.)

But it was a darn good time, and I earned more than I spent, and did get to spend a little time in direct sunlight, which I don't always see in northern New England. Tonight I fly back on a series of flights so ridiculous I can't imagine why I thought they were a good idea; I leave LA at 11:15, and get to Portland around 12:15 tomorrow afternoon. Lucky for me I sleep on planes.

The combination of sleep deprivation and sun poisoning makes my brain fuzzy, though, so in lieu of something more thoughtful, here's a list of five more songs about Los Angeles (a sequel to this list).

1. "Desperadoes Under the Eaves," Warren Zevon. "And if California slides into the ocean/As the mystics and statistics say it will/I predict this motel will be standing/Until I pay my bill." Actually, this song reminds me that I never had a margarita while I was here. I wonder . . . it's past 5:30 on the East Coast . . .

2. "Under the Bridge," Red Hot Chili Peppers. A love song to the city, "my only friend" — "At least I have her love/The city she loves me/Lonely as I am/Together we cry."

3. "A Long December," Counting Crows. A few years ago I spent New Year's Day taking a long walk through Santa Monica with my best friend and our dogs, and could not get this song out of my head. I did see the ocean briefly last night, from that friend's deck.

4. "My Old School," Steely Dan. Steely Dan, I understand, can be a polarizing band. I love them. You should love them too. This is a song about California as the place we all run away to. "California/Tumbles into the sea/That'll be the day I go back to Annandale."

5. "Exquisitely Bored," Pete Townshend. A minor track off what I consider Pete Townshend's masterpiece, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. It's true, the Los Angeles brand of boredom is unique and hard to describe. One night before I moved back east I had drinks in the Buddha Bar in Thousand Oaks, and the similarities among the other women's faces freaked my friends and me out; they all had the same noses, the same eyelids stretched tight, the same shade of artificial tan. It might have been Stepford.

5 comments:

Richard said...

..are you sure "my Old School" is about California?

AnswerGirl said...

Well, it's the triumphant (desperate) song of someone who escaped Virginia for California. As I did myself, once upon a time. Every listener brings her own meaning to the song . . .

mierla said...

Ooh! Can I add one more?
Screenwriter's Blues by Soul Coughing.
If I ever make use of that Lit. teaching license in my closet, I intend to include it in a poetry unit that will probably get me hauled before the school board.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laIy1PgcVnA

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard that Warren Zevon song for a long time. Thanks for getting me to listen to it again.

How about I Love LA?

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x15gxc_randy-newman-i-love-l-a_music

-Joe

AnswerGirl said...

Wow, Soul Coughing. Those guys are great. And Joe, I do love "I Love LA," but it's definitely tongue-in-cheek, and I was in a more sincere mood when I put that list together . . .