April 23, 2008

Exhibit 4: Southern California mythology


Although the roots of rock music lay firmly in the American South and Inuit outposts in Newfoundland, artists of the form followed the instincts of filmmakers, television producers and incense makers in the idealization of Southern California as a sort of "promised land," where permissive morals, the thriving model/actor industry and 24-hour roadside service attracted all patrons of the arts.

Indeed, Bobby Troup's genre-crossing classic composition "Route 66" gave listeners a sonic road map to the Golden State, starting in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles, although a small number of listeners whose faulty copies of "Route 66" skipped on their phonographs found themselves driving in circles near Clinton, Oklahoma for weeks at a time. (Similarly, a little-known and quickly-recalled "extended mix" of Nat 'King' Cole's version of "Route 66" was thought to be primarily responsible for the drowning deaths of people trying to drive to Hawaii.)

The first rock band from Southern California to emerge as popular favorites was The Beach Boys, who recorded a slew of classic singles about surfing. This is ironic, of course, because the members of the band much preferred lacrosse. Nevertheless, the glorification of California ran rampant through their hit songs, which included "Surfin' U.S.A.," "Little Surfer Girl," "Catch A Wave," "Surfin' Safari," "Surfin' Convention," "Surfin' Kremlin," "Sidney the Surfin' Shriner," "Surfin' Like a Muthafucka," "I Went To Long Beach And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt Because All The Rental Surfboards Were Checked Out," and "Zuma Beach Food Poisoning." When the Beach Boys had exhausted every possible song concept involving surfing they began writing about automobiles, again ironic since they were dwarves whose feet could not reach the brake pedals.

Initial attempts to inject mysticism into Southern California mythology were made by The Doors, whose tales of shamans, street vendors, arsonists, contortionists and being evicted enthralled teenyboppers who were no longer physically attracted to the Dave Clark Five. In the early 70s The Eagles fused rugged Old West mythology with 12-packs of domestic lager and scowling contests to gigantic commercial acclaim. Their most iconic song, "Hotel California," was about a hotel whose concierge was fatally preoccupied. The Eagles broke up when their surplus of dopamine and model/actresses was depleted, which they blamed on an 18-year-old William "Axl" Rose, who was working as their guitar tech at the time and had keys to the place.

Concurrently, Southern California was a hotbed for sensitive singer/songwriters such as Jackson Browne. While other Southern California musicians held sway over the coastlines and the freeways, Browne's poetically tormented songs were borne from the more varied topography of the area's canyons and valleys. Several other artists based in these comparatively remote locations, such as Joni Mitchell, Warren Zevon and Stevie Nicks, hatched with Browne a sort of collective of musicians, forging a kinship over their inability to find a pizza place that would deliver to their area.

Southern California mythology was dormant for awhile until the hip-hop age, when N.W.A. and Ice-T recorded heartfelt tributes to fallen policemen. In the '90s alternative artist Beck paid homage to the Los Angeles area's Goodwill and Value Village outlets, later brokering the acquisition of both thrift-store operations by the Church of Scientology. Further southward, a brief punk movement arose from the impoverished Third World of Orange County. Bad Religion, often called "the thinking man's punk band," had a successful career, until a tragic concert where four fans in attendance were killed by the blunt force of 500-pound adjectives.

The ever-changing mythology of Southern California held dozens of music fanatics in its grip until they moved to San Francisco to find themselves.

3 comments:

Pame Terla Hondo said...

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4rx said...

yeah the activity was very nice, i wonder they made it in a such place (it was to small) anyway i meet nice people and make new friend i never believed that to many people of tv liked the rock music.

scott davidson said...

As an older art collector since my wife passed away, I must admit to being very partial to collecting nudes in art, as original paintings or as good prints, that I have displayed all over the house. (I like to see the surprised faces of my new visitors).
This one,
http://en.wahooart.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LHTDD, by Emile Munier, is hanging in one corner of my bedroom and was printed by wahooart.com, where I am a very good customer.

 
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