Los Angeles is my hometown and here’s why I love it: you’ve got this vast city, filled with people from all over the U.S. and the world, and it’s surrounded by amazing natural beauty. For me, there’s a lot of inspiration to be found in LA.
Back in January, we shot the music video for my song Women Make The World Go ‘Round on the streets of downtown during the Women’s March. On that historic day, 750,000 women and men turned out. Now that is a big city experience.
I think LA helps you develop an attitude of “we’re in this together” rather than one of “us vs. them.” Maybe that feeling has to do with the fact that a lot of people choose to be here. Whether they’re coming for a better life , “moving west,” escaping harsh winters, or trying make a name for themselves, that desire to be here brings a special energy to the city.
It’s also a place that lets you start over.
My dad was a recovered alcoholic, and part of his coming to LA, I think, was a “starting over” of sorts, after his drinking years ended. He was a great man, who I loved very much, and he would sometimes drive us down to Skid Row to show us another part of life. I believe my dad knew that if he had not found recovery, that could be him. Once, when he gave a homeless man, probably an alcoholic, some money I said, “Dad, isn’t he just going to buy booze?” To which my Dad replied, “Son, sometimes you’ve just got to have a drink.” That taught me something about understanding and compassion, and about my dad.
When I think of growing up here, I kind of ran wild in the city. I was in bands, playing backyard/house parties and clubs. I used to climb the letters of the Hollywood sign. I got around the city (illegally) in my friend’s lawn mower engine powered go-cart. Of course, I also had my yellow Schwinn 10 speed, my skateboard, back-packing in the Sierras with my Boy Scout Troop, a motorcycle then a Volkswagen van – I could go anywhere.
I’m a little older now, and still love the mountains and the desert. My partner, Erica Elizabeth Koesler, and I often go hiking in Griffith Park, The Verdugo’s and the San Gabriel mountain range nearby.
I know Missing Persons said nobody walks in LA but I do! I’ve walked the lengths of both Sunset Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd., downtown to the ocean. From my home neighborhood of Los Feliz to endless destinations. There’s a freedom in traveling long distances under your own steam, on your own two feet.
When I began writing my album, Garden of Edendale (coming out later this year), I had a guitar part I just loved and knew would make a great jam. It occurred to me to send this song in the direction of a trip through all the neighborhoods and cities in and around LA County. I would do it in a fairly fast, rhythmic style, and call it I Have A Crush (On LA).
Inspirational credit goes to the song I’ve Been Everywhere, a song written by Australia Country Singer Geoff Mack in 1959 and made popular by Lucky Starr in 1962. As originally written, it listed Australian towns. It was adapted by Hank Snow (himself a Canadian) in 1962 with North American (mostly U.S.) toponyms (the version I know and love), by Australian singer Rolf Harris with English and Scottish toponyms (1963) and by John Hore (later known as John Grenell) in 1966 with New Zealand toponyms. (I like knowing the provenance of music.) Many folks know a version by Johnny Cash.
Many of my songwriting mornings would start with my Los Angeles county map on the computer screen, with me looking at it and sorting different names of places in various rhyming schemes. I probably worked on it over a period of 6 months.
I’d later write an I Have A Crush (on LA) reprise to include many places that were just too hard to rhyme in the main song.
With all that said, my favorite part of the song is the jam at the end. That type of playing is in my DNA. I happen to like my guitar solo, but listen to Joe Ginsberg’s bass lines and Reade Pryor’s drumming and his fills. Wow! For the guitar solo, the amp was in my closet with the door closed, turned up very loud, and engineer/co-producer Brina Kabler and I wore drummer style hearing protection headphones to protect our ears from the volume. I did about 10 takes on old strings that I thought were “preliminary takes,” but 95% of the solo on the record is from 5 of those takes, the 5 where I used the more intense sounding bridge pickup of my Fender Telecaster.
After all these years, I still have a crush on LA.
How about you?