Thursday, 5 February 2009
I could post dozens of songs just about Los Angeles or San Francisco before even thinking about the rest of the state. Instead these are just a handful of my favourite California songs. By all means point out my omissions in the comments below and I'll tell you if it's a song I'd already thought of.
MP3: Tom Waits - Goin' Out West
The male version of Naomi Watts' character in Mulholland Drive. There's no way that this ex-con turned wannabe actor is ever going to make it in Hollywood whether he changes his name to Hannibal or Rex. Incidentally, you may remember Tony Franciosa from such films as Death Wish II and Across 110th Street.
More Tom Waits: Carnival Saloon | MySpace | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: The Arlenes - Going to California
Shortly after I moved to the capital 10 years ago Big Steve Arlene introduced me to North London's twang scene via his and Alan Tyler's still-going-strong Sunday afternoon club Come Down And Meet the Folks. This song was written shortly before the Family Arlene upped sticks from Camden to California. They've since moved to Nashville.
More Arlenes: official site | Amazon
MP3: Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars (live on Letterman)
This was the first dance at our wedding last year, beautifully played, pedal steel and all, by our friends Two Fingers of Firewater. Some trivia: The High Desert Mavericks, a minor league baseball team in Adelanto, California used the song as their theme during the 2001 season.
More Bragg & Wilco: woodyguthrie.org | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Marlena Shaw - California Soul
I'm trying to up the soul quotient at the Carnival Saloon and Joanne suggested this track as we rifled through our CDs looking for state songs. I feel bad for not including Joni Mitchell's California for her too but we'll hear from Joni once we get to Iowa.
More Marlena: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital
MP3: Virgil Shaw - Back to Eureka
I bought Virgil Shaw's cracking album Quad Cities on a trip to Northern California so this song reminds me of Highway 1, the redwoods and Anchor Steam beer. I think I may have bought a Polaroid camera in Eureka.
More Virgil Shaw: MySpace | Amazon
MP3: Jolie Holland - Goodbye California
There are some people for whom excellent weather, an abundance of fruit and the Terminator as your state's governor aren't things to stick around for. Perhaps Jolie Holland is among their number.
More Jolie Holland: | MySpace |Amazon 7digital
MP3: Guy Clark - LA Freeway
Someone else who wanted an exit from the Golden State. Guy Clark does a wonderful intro to this on stage. Apparently the final straw was when the landlord he "couldn't stand" chopped down the fruit tree outside the Clarks' window.
More Guy Clark: official site | Amazon | 7digital
Next time you'll need to prepare for possible altitude sickness - we're heading for the mountains of Colorado.
State Songs #1: Alabama - Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Jim White, Joan Baez, Shelby Lynne and, of course, Lynryd Skynyrd.
State Songs #2: Alaska - Michelle Shocked, Johnny Cash, Port O'Brien, Dan Bern, The Velvet Underground
State Songs #3: Arizona - Wilco, Glen Campbell, The DeZurik Sisters, Dimitri Tiomkin and Public Enemy
State Songs #4: Arkansas - The New Lost City Ramblers, Hayes Carll, Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell, REM, Bruce Springsteen