When we hear the name San Francisco, we immediately conjure vivid images of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, earthquakes, cable cars, gays, and the hyphy movement.
“San Francisco” represents much more than just a city in California. It’s a state of mind. We all want to escape to a place where seagulls roam freely and sea lions laze all day. We all want to eat delicious Chinese food and watch the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. We all want to be just a short drive from Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. We all want to be able to walk down the street wearing buttless chaps in the middle of the day (well, some people might). And at the end of the day, we all want to get stupid and ghost ride the whip.
José González – Heartbeats
There are moments of immediate certainty where you just KNOW that you are meeting a true love for the first time and you can embrace it without hesitation… these occasions are rare and precious. I have been fortunate to experience it twice in my lifetime, and the first was when I moved near San Francisco. The city’s physical charms are readily apparent, with its famed hills and vistas, but what really makes the place so romantic is the sense of intimacy and acceptance that it seems to radiate, something quite unique for a major city. SF will take you as you are. It wants you as you are, no matter where you’re from or what you look like or what you might think. SF will love you back.
This song is by a Swedish band, covered here by another Swede of Argentinean descent. And the video I am about to show you is actually an advert for a fancy TV set. What does all this have to do with San Francisco, you might ask? If you haven’t watched it before, see for yourself:
Although the video doesn’t highlight any of the iconic San Francisco landmarks (aside from a hazy shot of Coit Tower), anyone who has been to SF should easily be able to identify it as the setting. Nowhere else looks like this, feels like this. Here, the balls bounce both in chaos and in harmony.
And oh yes, the song itself… As I alluded earlier, the original is a quirky techno-pop number by The Knife. This one is a sweet, intimate cover by José González; both versions are appropriate. I can (and tend to) listen to it over and over again without ever getting sick of it. The lyrics describe… what else? The bloom of an instant love.
Joanna Newsom – The Book of Right-On
Given my particularly indecisive nature, I had a considerable amount of difficulty deciding on a ‘winner’ for this weeks topic (San Fran). Do I choose one of the many songs written about San Francisco, or should I choose an artist who was born out of (and helped shape) the burgeoning music scene that blew up the scene in the mid-late 60’s?
In lieu of either of these options, I have decided on Joanna Newsom (“The Book of Right-On” from her album The Milk-Eyed Mender). I chose Newsom, who I first came across while on vacation with a couple of good friends. Afraid that we would be lost and utterly incapable of finding our way home, my friend handed me his music player, blasting Newsom’s screechy and child-like voice. Playful lyrics like “I killed my dinner with karate / Kick ’em in the face, taste the body” will warm you up, as will the more beautiful and soul-tickling lyrics peppered throughout the rest of the album.
What, then, does Joanna Newsom actually have to do with San Francisco you ask? Well, her cousin is the mayor, and she grew up in nearby Nevada City.