L.A. Song, Revisited…

Earlier this year, Kathleen asked what your favorite songs about L.A. were.

Fastforward to the present, and the December 2006 issue of Blender, featuring My Chemical Romance (MySpace) on the cover, lists “The Best 25 Songs About L.A.” (pages 108-120):

  1. Guns N’ Roses: “Welcome to the Jungle” (1987)
  2. N.W.A.: “Straight Outta Compton” (1989)
  3. The Eagles: “New Kid in Town” (1976)
  4. Tom Petty: “Free Fallin'” (1989)
  5. Hole: “Malibu” (1998)
  6. 2Pac: “California Love” (1996)
  7. War: “Low Rider” (1975)
  8. Albert Hammond: “It Never Rains in Southern California” (1973)
  9. Mötley Crüe: “Girls Girls Girls” (1987)
  10. Fleetwood Mac: “Gold Dust Woman” (1977)
  11. David Bowie: “Cracked Actor” (1973)
  12. Sheryl Crow: “All I Wanna Do” (1993)
  13. Joni Mitchell: “Free Man in Paris” (1975)
  14. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band: “Hollywood Nights” (1978)
  15. Art Brut: “Moving to L.A.” (2005)
  16. Jane’s Addiction: “Jane Says” (1988)
  17. The Go-Go’s: “This Town” (1981)
  18. Public Enemy: “Burn Hollywood Burn” (1990)
  19. Rufus Wainwright: “California” (2001)
  20. The Miracles: “Ain’t Nobody Straight in L.A.” (1975)
  21. The Clash: “The Right People” (1979)
  22. Soul Coughing: “Screenwriter’s Blues” (1994)
  23. Phantom Planet: “California” (2002)
  24. X: “Los Angeles” (1980)
  25. Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Under the Bridge” (1991)

The list also includes exclusive quotes from Ice Cube, Courtney Love, Sheryl Crow, and Perry Farrell about the making of each of their songs. Here’s Crow reminiscing about “All I Wanna Do”:

We were jamming in the studio, and I picked up this poem in a book — the first line was “All I wanna do is have some fun.” It encapsulated what was going on in L.A., a real extreme feeling of apathy and defeat. It’s masked in this light pop ditty, but it’s about somebody down and out, sitting in a bar watching their life go by. I contacted the poet, Wyn Cooper, and he was really pleased. And the song was easy for me to sell because it was a character I could easily slip into. There was a lot of drinking going on in my life then, a lot of late-night bars. The song was a throwaway — it wasn’t even going to be on the album. My little brother kept saying, “This is a big hit.” And there really is a bar on Formosa across from a car wash. But I haven’t ever spent a morning in a bar having a beer, I have to say.

22 Replies to “L.A. Song, Revisited…”

  1. I missed the earlier thread, but I was surprised no one on there (not surprised that Blender didn’t mention it) mentioned the Raveonettes’ “Ode to L.A.” It has Ronnie Spector on background vocals, and when she does her classic “whoa-oh-oh-oh” I get chills. It’s a great song.

    Also worthy of mention is Thee Midnighters’ “Whittier Blvd.” (not a typo–it’s Thee, not The).

  2. The fact that Phantom Planet’s “California” is on that list, above “Under the Bridge” and X’s “Los Angeles” no less, totally ruins the whole thing for me.

  3. I’m completely with 5000! on this one. X is certainly listed on the wrong side of this list. That said, it pleases me no end to see the once mighty, now wimpy Chili Peppers listed in last place.

  4. I agree, X’s “Los Angeles” should be much, much higher. I absolutely hate “Under The Bridge” though (the verses remind me a little too much of “Free Fallin'” BTW). Never really liked the Chili Peppers, even when they were supposed to be good. I do like 1, 2, 14, and 17, though not necessarily in those rankings.

    And where’s Missing Persons’ “Walkin’ in L.A.”? Heh.

  5. Yeah, no Randy Newman – what’s up with that? That’s like listing the best songs about New York and leaving out Sinatra. There’s a reason they play the song at Dodger Stadium when the bums win.

  6. Without getting into the relative merits of any particular song on the list (except to say, yeah, X should be at or near the top), I was puzzled because I never heard of a Clash song called “The Right People” . . . maybe it should be “The Right Profile”, a song about Montgomery Clift and his disfiguring car accident?

  7. I would vote for dumping Phantom Planet for “L.A.” by MursI would vote for dumping Phantom Planet for “L.A.” by Murs

  8. Elliot Smith’s “L.A.” is on my list. “living in the day / last night i was about to throw it all away”. As is Randy: if you have any doubts, you get a stadium to sing “Look at that bum over there, down on his knees” and get back to me. And I humbly submit the sub-unknown band “The Dogs” for their song “Los Angeles”: http://captainautomatic.com/dogs.html

  9. How does “Girls Girls Girls” qualify as a song about LA (and get a higher rating than songs that actually ARE about LA)? It’s a fun little bit of pop metal, but it’s about strip clubs all over the world. “I Love LA” or “Walking in LA” or any of the other songs mentioned in the comments would be a way, way better choice.

  10. “Butt Town” by Iggy Pop comes to mind. For that matter, so does Iggy’s “Mask” simply for the line “Eveybody in LA just plain licking ass or having it licked.”

  11. Are you people high?

    David & David’s “Welcome to the Boomtown” and David Baerwald’s solo song “Secret Silken World”.

    I can’t believe neither of these two made this list. Sheesh.

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