California Love #1: Neko Case > In California

I've been toying with the idea of posting a series of songs that are specifically about San Francisco or even songs that just briefly mention San Francisco. Mostly because I this is my home and I think it might be fun to dig out tracks like that. I think, however, that I will expand it slightly and go for mentions of either San Francisco or California. One of the best compliments I've ever received was from a girl, Stephanie, with whom I had a major falling out. It was a very ugly and very public shouting match at the courthouse downtown, of all places (don't ask). That was in the mid-nineties, and I haven't seen or spoken to her since. In any case, the compliment she paid me was obviously before our little brouhaha. I don't really remember the context in which she said it, but it was pleasant (I do remember that much!) and she said, "You're a real Californian." She was (is) from Sweden, so it gave me an odd sense of pride, although I think she was mostly commenting on the laid back nature of my personality. Which is fine, I suppose, and here we are.

So, I think I'll start with Neko Case's
In California, which was originally written by Lisa Marr of The Lisa Marr Experiment. I'm gonna roll with Neko's version, as that's the one with which I was first acquainted and with which am more familiar. This particular version is from Neko's Live from Austin, TX album, which was recorded for Austin City Limits in 2003 but released early this year. It also appears on her Canadian Amp EP, from way back in 2001.

I like the slow pace and the feeling of heartache that her voice conveys. It's bittersweet story of leaving home and trying to make it big in LA, with lines like
now I'm livin' in Korea town/waking to the sound of car alarms; and in the land where the sun's always shinin'/I'm cryin alone/palm trees are laughin' at me.

I think my favorite line has to be
another fool playin' songs that don't matter/to people who chatter/endlessly. You can almost feel the frustration dripping onto the words as she sings them. The song ends on a sorta hopeful note, they tell me LA is beautiful/when it rains, but I'm not sure if the rain is supposed to be her tears or not. Either way, I guess.....

Neko Case > In California


Stef said...

Why are there so many songs about California? I mean sure, it's a nice place and all that. Well, apart from LA which is a shit-hole, but...

If I started a list of songs about my home town (birmingham) I wouldn't know where to begin. I now live in London but even then I'd be struggling. "London Calling", er...

robot_hero said...

I dunno, I think it's sorta romanticized, with Hollywood being here, among other things. I think it was once called The Last Frontier, back in the settlers days. So many dreams and hopes rest in this state, so many people coming here looking for their big break. So many people looking to lean up against a palm tree on a sandy beach under the fabled California sun. Of course, we know it's not all true. It's mostly a nice dream. I guess it sorta represents hope, or a (new) beginning.

jennifer said...

I think it's a great idea for a set of posts! And your reply here is spot on, too. So please do post more SF/CA songs.

There's a couple Lucksmiths ones that make me swoon. Of course, "The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco," which breaks my heart. Also, is there a body of water or something in which one could sing about "The Fog of Trujillo" or is that somewhere else in non-California?

Great sentiment in this Neko song.