Discover more from Iterations
Blip.057: Songs About California
It's not a dream anymore.
I’m going back to California in a couple weeks for a visit and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s only the second time I’ve been back since I moved to the East Coast eight years ago. As much as I love living here, there are definitely things I miss about California, so I thought I would put together a playlist of a few of my favorite songs about LA.
This is a great song about LA (Wang Chung actually did the film’s soundtrack) from one of my favorite movies about LA. I think it’s also one of William Petersen’s best performances. I love how director William Friedkin used LA as a character in the film, not just a backdrop for it—Bosch is the same way. Maybe it’s because that’s where I grew up, but telling this story anywhere else just wouldn’t feel the same.
I wonder why I live alone here
I wonder why we spend these nights together
Is this the room I’ll live my life forever
I wonder why in LA
To live and die in LA
Written by Death Cab for Cutie frontman Benjamin Gibbard in a cabin outside Big Sur that was once occupied by Jack Kerouac, this song isn’t really about California, but the sound of it reminds me of how it often felt to be there. I love California, and as much as I miss it, I don’t miss the time I left. I miss the way California was in the 70s and 80s, which I think is what people think of when they refer to the “California dream” or the California lifestyle. But in my experience, both of those things died a long time ago and have been replaced by something different. I guess it just took me a while to realize it.
For a short time, I had an apartment a block off of Ventura Blvd. and nearly every night, you could find me at this little coffee house called Insomnia. It had a great vibe and was a terrific place to just hang out and watch people. Lots of young (at the time) Hollywood industry types. Steve Perry from Journey used to come in from time to time—no entourage, just by himself. On a few occasions, we struck up a conversation and talked about music and movies. He seemed like a good guy. I wonder whether he even remembers it.
I’d never heard of Dawes until Adrianne introduced me to them and now they’re one of my favorite bands. I think we’ve seen them live five or six times and it’s always a terrific show. This tune is from their second record, Nothing is Wrong, which is fantastic. For me, the standout tune is “A Little Bit of Everything.” It just wrecks me every time I hear it.
I think John Mayer is a fantastic guitar player and an even better song writer—and “Queen of California” shows why. In fact, I would go so far as to say Born and Raised is probably his best record—certainly his most underappreciated. Plus, the album cover created by British sign painter and glass artist David A. Smith is an absolute masterpiece.
Want more Blips? Subscribe for free.