What does that song mean?

Quirky Songs About Los Angeles

Posted Jan 25th, 18:50 by Penguin Pete

Why “quirky”? Because then maybe these will be songs that people from L.A. won’t be tired of hearing by now. You’d never know it to look at my snow-shoveling Midwestern self now, but I was once a Californian, Angeleno in fact, born in Gardena, no less. That is part of Los Angeles County, which is one reason why my list of Los Angeles songs is better than most; I know my geography. They Might Be Giants’ “Anaheim” is right out, Anaheim being in Orange County, a whole county over and the only thing stopping Angelenos from coming face to face with San Diegans.

Having grown up in the area before I broke through the state barrier and learned about a whole world out there, I can still recall a few of my crazy California days. I especially recall songs about California, L.A., etc., that I grew absolutely sick of from the constant repetition. They get reused in commercials, radio stations, and every other sound system at the grocery store. None of that here! We mean quirky, darn it, and we’re sticking to that commitment.

"Born in East L.A." by Cheech Marin

As I keep pointing out, even when I have to mention them in a cannabis-related context, Cheech and Chong were not just stoner comedy. The majority of their comedy act did not revolve around weed, and furthermore, both of them are established artists in their own right. Cheech Marin especially released several albums of comedy and novelty songs – leading up to what some would say his magnum opus, Born in East L.A. There’s the film (which he produced and starred in) and the theme song (him again) You should see it, it’s a funny and underrated movie.

"Compton's in the House" by N.W.A.

Curve ball? Compton is a part of L.A. county, which is a jolt to those who only associate Los Angeles with Hollywood and the beach. This is, of course, one of the key tracks from the album Straight Outta Compton.

“Dodger Blue” by Sue Raney

Yes, definitely a curve ball! The Los Angeles Dodgers, after all, are extremely popular locally. The nice lady who wrote a song about them, Sue Raney, was the same vocalist who sang the national anthem at the beginning of Dodger games, and this fan song is now commemorated in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now isn’t that a nice American story?

"Hell Looks a Lot Like L.A." by Less Than Jake

This one is not a nice American story. There are downsides to living in paradise, such as when everybody else decides to live there too and the smog chokes the clouds while traffic chokes the freeways. There is a reason or two why this penguin flew north, you know.

"Hollywood Babylon" by The Misfits

Any excuse will do to trot out our favorite horror-punk band. Hollywood Babylon is of course the gossip-rag celebrity scandal book penned by shock-filmmaker and music dabbler Kenneth Anger.

"I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica" by Tom Lehrer

Leave it to Tom Lehrer, only he could have written this. Fine, then, if you’re a Hebrew in Santa Monica who actually plays this as a seasonal song… get in touch with us, we want an interview.

"LAX" by Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube

The remarkable thing is that Los Angeles’ International Airport is so iconic that there are several songs about LAX! That space-age flying saucer design really sticks with people.

“Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa

Of course I had to post one by The Master. This song does make fun of upper-class mallrats in the San Fernando general region – again, part of Los Angeles County. For that time in the 80s, there really were people who talked this way, but it’s tired now.




comments powered by Disqus
All blog posts