Sunday, March 11, 2018

L.A. Mixed Tape

For New York, it's about the hustle, the traffic, the frenetic energy. Paris is about the lights; London the pomp and circumstance. For L.A. it's the drive, the music coursing through you when you do. 

Breakin' Like the Waves at Malibu



1. Pacific Coast Hwy to Malibu: "There are no bad words for the coast today." Start on PCH, out passed Malibu with Rilo Kiley's "Spectacular Views." Somewhere inside me is a 16 year old with a new DL, a girl named Nikki by his side. It's not that old a song, but it conjures that up like it was '77. 2. Neil Young's "Through My Sails" from Zuma: "I'm standing on the shoreline/ It's so fine out there. Leaving with the wind blowing/ But love takes care." Like a beautiful L.A. day. 3. John Phillips' "Topanga Canyon": "Sometimes I drive out to Topanga and park my car in the sand." It’s a California score at the beach. The Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man" comes to mind, but it's L.A. and the sun's out. "Watching and waiting for a pick up from my man." On through the canyon, head all clear, the sun's rays beating down, warm, come up over the crest and twist into the smoggy Valley. 4. (Monkees): "Another Pleasant Valley Sunday, here in Status symbol land." 5. Tom Petty: "It's a long day living in Reseda/ There's a freeway runnin' through the yard." Stop for a burger at Bill and Hiroko's over on Oxnard in Van Nuys. "I want to glide down over Mulholland/ I want to write her name in the sky./ Gonna free fall out into nothin'/ Gonna leave this world for a while."

The L.A.-ness of L.A. music isn't merely in the lyrics; Cali's infused in the sound itself, like a whiff of hot asphalt, 6. Steely Dan: "...that fearsome excavation on Magnolia Blvd."), pot smoke, and eucalyptus; music calibrated for car stereos. 7. Laurel Canyon to Lookout Mountain: "But I couldn't let go of L.A./ City of the fallen angels." Joni. Fumble with Spotify: 8. "Oh California I'm coming home/ Oh make me feel good rock 'n' roll band/. I'm your biggest fan/ California I'm coming home." I track down her oak-shrouded bungalow on Lookout Mountain Road and put on "Our House." A cat crosses my path. Maybe Joni's old place is like Hemingway's, with all its kitten descendants. 9. Just behind the Canyon Country Store on Rothdell Trail is Laurel Canyon's most famous address (8826 Lookout Mountain Avenue), Morrison's Love Street house. Living there with Pam Courson, Morrison penned the lyrics to Waiting For the Sun and The Soft Parade." "I see you live on Love Street, there's this store where the creatures meet..."
  
Canyon Country Store
10. Sunset to Gower and Warren Zevon's "Desperadoes Under the Eaves":"I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel/ I was staring in my empty coffee cup/ I was thinking that the gypsy wasn't lying/ All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles/ I’m gonna drink 'em up...Look away, down Gower Avenue/Look away…" Gower! Of all the streets in L.A., Zevon chose that one. Never was such a gorgeous melody attached to such a humdrum street. 

11. Jack's Mannequin (Andrew McMahon), "Holiday From Real." Maybe the ultimate song about L.A.; L.A. as the character in a play:



She thinks I'm much too thin
She asks me if I'm sick
What's a girl to do 
With friends like this
She lets me drive her car 
So I can score an eighth
From the lesbians 
Out west in Venice

Oh, California in the Summer
Ah, and my hair is growing long
Fuck yeah, we can live like this

But if you left it up to me
Everyday would be 
A holiday from real
We'd waste our weeks 
Beneath the sun
We'd fry our brains 
And say it's so much fun out here
But when it's all over
I'll come back for another year

I'll look for work today
I'm spilling out the door
Put my glasses on 
So no one sees me
I never thought that
I'd be living on your floor
But the rents are high 
And LA's easy

Oh, it's a picture of perfection
Ah, and the postcards gonna read
"Fuck yeah we can live like this...
We can live like this"

But if you left it up to me
Everyday would be 
A holiday from real
We'd waste our weeks 
Beneath the sun
We'd fry our brains 
And write it's so much fun out here

Hey Madeline (hey Madeline)
You sure look fine (you sure look fine)
You wore my favorite sweater
Being poor was never better
A safety buzz (A safety buzz)
Some cheap red wine (Some cheap red wine)
Oh, the trouble we can get in 
So let's screw this one up right

But if you left it up to me
Everyday would be 
A holiday from real
We'd waste our weeks 
Beneath the sun
We'd lie and tell our friends
It's so much fun out here
But when it's all over
I'll come back for another year

When it's all over 
I'll come back for another
When it's all over 

I'll come back for another year

12. Leave it to Colin Meloy to fill a musically jaunty ode to L.A. with polite, old-timey wordsmithing about burnt cocaine and streetwalker style. The Decemberists songwriter tackles his love-hate relationship with the city—"An ocean’s garbled vomit on the shore"—as a relatable, alluring addiction. L.A. has its faults, but its whimsical charms keep you coming back, "wretched, retching on all-fours," whether out of pure love or borderline addiction. Los Angeles, I'm Yours... 

Perhaps the most well-known muse in musical history, Los Angeles has long inspired odes to its beaches and women, its hard city streets and its celebrity siren call. Many are love songs, some are full of more vitriolic verse and others still are die-hard, head-banging anthems: No matter how you feel about the City of Angels, there's a song for that. 

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