L.A. IS MY LADY, AND MY LADY IS A SONG
This segment of our Los Angeles tour is comprised entirely of L.A.-related music videos. Let’s enjoy a short musical interlude, shall we? We’ll get back to more photos and exciting stuffs in the 6th and final installment. But for now . . .
ROCK ON! . . .
A list of songs primarily about or that merely reference Los Angeles would be huge and it would include Oldies, like "Palisades Park" and “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena” to several Steely Dan numbers from the Classic Rock era, to Rap/Hip-Hop and beyond.
Some of the more well known songs pertaining to L.A. and the state that the city was founded in are Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do", Led Zeppelin's "Going To California", "Walking In L.A." by Missing Persons, and "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. And then there's the little known "L.A. Blues" by Iggy and The Stooges, which pretty much makes Guns N' Roses sound like Barry Manilow.
But I like none of those five songs!
However there are some songs mentioning my homemegalopolis that I dig a great deal. To begin with, I have said for decades the song that probably ought to be declared "The Official Song Of Los Angeles" (with Olvera Street in mind) is the one found playing in the video below:
Of course, a lot of other native Angelenos would argue with me that Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." should be named the official song of the city.
I don't think I ever owned Randy's "Trouble In Paradise" album, but my great friend Pooh did. We used to sit in his second floor pad and drink along to his copy of it. My favorite song was "I'm Different", but I did enjoy "I Love L.A." also.
In compiling the stuffs to put this tour together, I found the video for "I Love L.A." at YouTube, and I watched it for the first time in about 27 years. I was thrilled to be reminded of two locations which I'd long forgotten had appeared in that video:
Remember the old "Jesus Saves" sign in Downtown which I told you in Part 1 had meant so much to me long ago? Well, it makes an appearance in Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." And there's also a quick shot of the "Tom's #5" sign.
Tom's #5 was a 24-hour burger joint located on Pico Boulevard, one block from Santa Monica Beach; you could tell how well the surf was breaking from the corner where Tom's #5 stood. Many's a night, after the bars were closed, me 'n' the boys would head to Tom's to get a big order of their greasy chili fries. Hey, man, when it's 3 AM and you're falling-down liquored-up, even Tom's #5 chili fries tasted like filet mignon!
I almost squealed with delight when I saw the Tom's #5 sign in Randy Newman's video - a video that I now appreciate far more than I ever did when it was getting played every 30 minutes on MTV in 1984. In fact, with my 20/20 hindsight, I'd have to say that Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." video is one of the top two or three music videos ever produced. Talk about images that capture the spirit of a song, this is it!
What's not to love? Disneyland, Venice Beach, a convertible on the open highway, and a "big, nasty redhead" at your side. Hokey-Smoke and Hoo-Wee! Sign me up! . . .
One thing I find rather amusing about the "I Love L.A." video is the streets that Randy Newman chose to name off: Century Boulevard, Victory Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Imperial Highway, and Sixth Street.
Are you kidding me? If someone asked me to name some of the most notable roads in the L.A. area, only Santa Monica Boulevard from Randy’s list would have had a shot of making my list.
Sheesh! Where was Wilshire Boulevard? Sunset Boulevard? Venice Boulevard? Pacific Coast Highway? La Brea? Heck, even Lincoln Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, and Pico would have made my list before Sixth Street!
Nevertheless, it’s a fabulous video, and I’m thinking that Newman’s street choices may have been his way of winking at those of us who really knew better.
By the way, while I was surfing YouTube, I happened upon a homemade video for Randy Newman’s song “I Love L.A.” which I also enjoyed. It was created by a girl calling herself raffistewardx3, and I thought she did an admirable job, especially considering that she had never even been to L.A. I made several attempts to post her video here, but for whatever reason, the system Just Said, "No”. Regardless, here is a link to raffistewartx3’s video, which is worth a look:
I LOVE L.A!! =D
There have been more than a few songs to reference L.A. that I've liked, but two of my favorites are relatively unknown. First there is Brian Setzer’s retro-sounding, film noir-like original “Hollywood Nocturne” from his ‘The Dirty Boogie’ album. Musicians are always called in to write musical scores for movie screenplays, but in this case, the music almost demands that someone hire a writer to compose a screenplay for it:
Another little known song I like is “California” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. How this song failed to chart in Billboard’s Top 40 in the late ‘70s I’ll never understand:
The very next time someone approaches you and says, "I'll bet you ten bucks that Warren Zevon never sang his song 'Frank And Jesse James' at the Griffith Observatory", you'd be a fool not to take that bet. Here's all the evidence you'll need to win the wager:
If he had never written another tune, I'd still be declaring Tom Waits a genius songwriter! In his almost impossibly clever song "Emotional Weather Report" (I don't explain if you don't understand), he sings of "gusty winds at times around the corner of Sunset and Alvarado".
Also appearing on his live album, 'Nighthawks At The Diner", is the song "Better Off Without A Wife". In the spoken introduction to that song, Waits says: "I've always kind of been partial to calling myself up on the phone and asking myself out. ... Well, one thing about it, you're always around. Yeah, you ask yourself out, you know, some class joint somewhere - the Burrito King or something. ... Well, I ain't cheap, ya know!"
Here's the connection: On the Northwest corner of Sunset and Alvarado is The Burrito King, one in a chain of cheap fast-food Mexican joints in the L.A. area. (Incidentally, no matter where you are in Los Angeles, you're never more than a few blocks from someplace where I've had a drink - even when you dine fine at the Burrito King on Sunset and Alvarado.)
But it seems Tom Waits was not the only Rock star who appreciated the Burrito King "where the dogs of society howl". In this rare video below from 1977, Warren Zevon, another L.A. songwriter with a cult following, took a film crew from Amsterdam on a tour of Los Angeles, introducing them to The Burrito King.
When Zevon tells them the Burrito King serves "some of the finest Mexican-American food in Southern California", I assure you he is being facetious (not that there's anything wrong with the Burrito King - all of my 'first and last' dates started there!)
[If you've been playing these videos that I've so generously provided you with, then perhaps you noticed that the Burrito King sign also managed to sneak its way into Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." music video as well.]
In this clip below, from the same televised special, Warren Zevon points out Malibu and Hollywood from the Griffith Observatory; Linda Ronstadt bitches 'n' moans in Malibu; and Bonnie Raitt extols the threads at 'Frederick's Of Hollywood':
OK, we'll wrap it all up with some interesting stuffs in the 6th and final installment.
Transport yourself to Part 6 by clicking here: The DeLorean With A Flux Capacitor
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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