Drive west on Sunset to the sea,
Turn that jungle music down,
Just until we’re out of town…
In 1980, no words would conjure up a more mysterious yet beckoning image of Los Angeles. In just a few short lines, mixed with intangible harmonies, Steely Dan pictured an LA where dreams didn’t always come true, but you’d never know unless you tried.
LA was the city where all the music I loved was being recorded. Album after album was bringing me closer to succumbing to its siren call as many had done for years before me.
And then, there was Joni.
See the blue pools in the squinting sun,
Hear the hissing of summer lawns.
As worldly as Joni was, LA was the center of her universe and she sang about it as one who had seen it all, dissected it and shared it in an inimitable way that couldn’t help but draw you closer to the edge of the circle.
But I couldn’t let go of LA,
City of the fallen angels.
More darkness and dashed dreams, but yet there was an optimism that shone through; an optimism rooted in pure joy from an earlier time.
Oh, but California,
California, I’m coming home,
I’m going to see the folks I dig,
I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig,
California, I’m coming home.
And it was with the lure of this soundtrack that I came West, twenty-five years ago this month, and walked into the bright, sulphuric yellow light of my adopted home.