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December 5, 2004 - The WLJ disk jockey looks in the geography book...

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Sin LA or S’en allez?  (Or … trolling for Google hits?)


World’s Laziest Journalist

Sunday, December 5, 2004

By Bob Patterson


Los Angeles let Frank Sinatra down because they didn’t overwhelmingly approve his candidate for becoming the town’s theme song.  New Yorkers love his New York, New York song.  How long do you think you would be in Chicago before you hear some radio station play Sinatra’s song Chicago?  He tried to go three for three but lost out to Randy Newman as far as Los Angeles was concerned.  Frank’s attempt to win over the city of angels was titled LA Is My Lady.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t know it, because most folks in LA can’t hum that tune, while almost all citizens can sing along when I Love LA is played.


At one point, it seemed like all a rock band had to do was use the name of a town in California in the title of a song and they would have a hit.  The most obvious examples would be: Mendocino, Oh, Lord, Stuck in Lodi Again, Do You Know the Way to San Jose? - and the hippie anthem San Francisco done by Scott McKenzie.  Not to mention the fact that the Mamas and the Papas had a big hit with California Dreamin’.


After a while kids in California think all songs are about them.  There is a city park in Santa Monica called Palisades Park and I’ve heard local folks brag that the song, written by Chuck Barris, was about that location.  Folks in New Jersey know where the Palisades Park with roller coaster rides really is.


[When a friend and I arrived in London (England not the one in Ontario province) and started looking for lodgings we walked past a construction site where the workers were playing a radio.  The fact checker will have a short circuit when I tell you the first song we heard there in 1989 was Roger Miller’s 1965 hit: England Swings.  Does the BBC still ban the song Deep in the Heart of Texas?  It was nixed during WWII because workers used it as a protest song.]


Bing Crosby had a hit with a song titled The San Fernando Valley.  Frank Zappa wrote the lyrics and Moon Unit Zappa did the vocals for the song that immortalized the Valley Girl, which was an “answer song” to the lesser known predecessor about Malibu done by the Surf Punks titled My Beach.  (Did you know the only beach in the United States named after a cartoon character is Zonker Harris State Beach in Malibu?)  Do you remember the Fender IV song: Malibu Run?  You never hear the radio play the Rolling Stones song with the line “Let’s go back to Zuma Beach.”  Wonder why that is; it was a great song.


What better public relations can a town ask for than a hit song?  Marty Robbins is still loved for his song El Paso and the lesser-known sequel.  Wasn’t the song Abilene pretty?  Chuck Berry had Havana Moon on the A side, unfortunately listeners preferred the B side.  Have the fact checker verify this but I think the B side was his big hit You Can’t Catch Me.  Boston is still singing the song about the guy stuck on the subway there.  It was the Kingston Trio’s song (Charlie on the) MTA.  How about Johnny River’s song Memphis Tennessee?  Or Bobby Bare’s song about Detroit City.  Then there’s I Left My Heart in San Francisco.  What about Roger Miller’s Kansas City Star?  We thought of asking if there was an official song for Concordia Kansas, but “we won’t go there.”  Pittsburgh was the home of Super Chicken (“You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.”) so they’ll have to settle for his theme song.


We’ll have to check with a friend and see what the theme song for Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia is.  What duya bet that over in the Queensland coastal city of Surfers Paradise, the jukeboxes are still playing the Beach Boys hits as well as Jan and Dean’s Surf City, the Sunrays I Live for the Sun and the Surfaris song Surfer Joe.  Click here for surf conditions there.

Does Perth have an official theme song?


For our Canadian readers we will mention Canadian Sunset sung by Andy Williams and the country song Just a Little Bit South of Saskatoon sung by Sonny James.


Just about any song Edith Piaf sings reminds us of the City of Lights, but what about Les Baxter’s: The Poor People of Paris?  [Editor’s note – I have a copy of Piaf singing it.]


If you think no one has ever sung about Scranton, Pa., you’d be wrong.  Folks in WARM-land can probably still hear local stations play the Where Do You Work-a John?(On the Delaware Lakawan…).  That song was done by Harry Reser’s group called the “Six Jumping Jacks.”  Which of course reminds us of the Perry Como song: What Did Della Wear?  (She wore a brand new jersey.)  Como also had a hit with Seattle.  Scranton was also the location referred to in Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas sung by Harry Chapin.


It’s sloppy sentimentality but I still like Andy William’s Hawaiian Wedding (because it always reminds me of Lake Tahoe.)


What about Okie From Muskogee, North to Alaska and The Battle of New Orleans?


If the people at Rhino Records Headquarters happen to read this column, maybe they will get the idea to do a CD of geography songs.  Speaking of their HQ, their town reminds us of the old Dr. Demento favorite: To Hear Veronica Play Her Harmonica on the Pier in Santa Monica.  (Have the fact checker work on that title; the Internet doesn’t produce a definitive title for that particular song.)


In his book, The War Between the State, Jon Winokur quotes Jim Heimann as saying: “You have to work LA; San Francisco just lies on its back for you to pet.”


Now, if the disk jockey will play Harlem Nocturne, we’ll drift on out of here like a puff of cigarette smoke vanishing into thin air in a friendly bar.  Come back again next week.  Until then, be cool daddy-o.





Copyright 2004 – Robert Patterson

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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