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Your Favorite Songs about LA
February 22, 2006 3:06 PM   Subscribe

What are your top 5 favorite songs about Los Angeles?

I'm building a mix tape for someone who's moving to LA
so far i have:

1. LA by X
2. Los Angeles by Frank Black
3. Why'd you want to live there by Death Cab for Cutie
4. I love L.A. Randy Newman
5. first of the Gang to Die - Morrissey

I'd love to hear what other people think!
posted by hurting.the.feelings.of.thechinesepeople to Media & Arts (82 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Screenwriter's Blues - Soul Coughing
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:10 PM on February 22, 2006


As much as I hate Guns 'n' Roses, any mix tape about L.A. must include Welcome to the Jungle.

There are several other Frank Black songs that would be good, too (Ole, Mulholland!, Calistan, etc.)
posted by JekPorkins at 3:10 PM on February 22, 2006


also:
Los Angeles, I'm Yours - The Decembrists

sorry, I don't have 5 good ones, so 2 will have to do for me...
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:12 PM on February 22, 2006


City of Angels by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
posted by jerryg99 at 3:13 PM on February 22, 2006


I like Aenema, by Tool.
posted by saladin at 3:16 PM on February 22, 2006


L.A. Song- Beth Hart
posted by kimdog at 3:17 PM on February 22, 2006


LA Woman -- The Doors
posted by contessa at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2006


'coming into los angeles' - arlo guthrie
posted by dan g. at 3:19 PM on February 22, 2006


To Live And Die In L.A. (Feat. Val Young) -- 2Pac
Los Angeles, I’m Yours -- The Decemberists
Ode To L.A. (With Ronnie Spector) -- The Raveonettes
Los Angeles -- Atmosphere
Los Angeles is Burning -- Bad Religion
Los Angeles Time -- Xzibit

"To Live and Die in L.A." is probably the definitive L.A. rap song, by one of its greats.
posted by maxreax at 3:19 PM on February 22, 2006


Trouble at the Cup - Black Randy and the Metrosquad
Hollywood Swingin' - Kool and the Gang
Goin' Back to Cali - LL Cool J
California Dreamin' - The Mamas and the Papas
I Loathe LA - Bob and David, I presume, from the Run Ronnie Run soundtrack
posted by box at 3:20 PM on February 22, 2006


Ryan Adams - "Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd."
posted by AwkwardPause at 3:22 PM on February 22, 2006


California - Rufus Wainwright
California - Phantom Planet
EZ LA - Folk Implosion

(Thirding The Decemberists)
posted by birdie birdington at 3:22 PM on February 22, 2006


LA Medley - Jane's Addiction
posted by box at 3:22 PM on February 22, 2006


Second Aenima. Also El Lay by NOFX.
posted by evariste at 3:22 PM on February 22, 2006


Desperadoes Under the Eaves - Warren Zevon
Carmelita - Warren Zevon

dittoing a couple from above:
Screenwriter's Blues - Soul Coughing
City of Angels - Red Hot Chili Peppers
posted by gleuschk at 3:22 PM on February 22, 2006


The already mentioned "Screenwriter's Blues" by Soul Coughing, as well as "The City With Two Faces" by Goldfinger.
posted by headlessagnew at 3:23 PM on February 22, 2006


If she's going from the East coast, you might want to include Biggie's "Going Back to Cali," which includes the immortal:

If I got to choose a coast, I got to choose the east
I live out there, so don't go there.
But that don't mean a n---a can't rest in the west
Smoke some nice cess in the west
See some nice breasts in the west
Y'al n---as is a mess,
Thinkin' I'm gon' stop
Givin' L.A. props.
posted by maxreax at 3:23 PM on February 22, 2006


"Going To California" by Led Zepplin, too.
posted by maxreax at 3:24 PM on February 22, 2006


Good grief -- all of these "modern" and crappy songs and artists -- we're 16 minutes into this thread, already, so why hasn't anyone yet mentioned The Chairman Of The Board, Ol' Blue Eyes, King Francis Albert The First? I'm talking about Frank Sinatra singing "L.A. Is My Lady" -- dig it.
posted by davidmsc at 3:28 PM on February 22, 2006


in the vein of maxreax mention of the NORTORIOUS B.I.G.

California Dreamin
---------
Only in Cali where we riot not rally to live and die
In L.A. we wearin Chucks not Ballies (that's right)
Dressed in Locs and khaki suits and ride is what we do
Flossin but have caution we collide with other crews
Famous cause we program worldwide
Let'em recognize from Long Beach to Rosecrands
Bumpin and grindin like a slow jam, it's west side
So you know the row won't bow down to no man
Say what you say
But give me that bomb beat from Dre
Let me serenade the streets of L.A.
------

yeah, i know they're talking about the whole state at times, but the opening line is sooooo good.
-----
Now let me welcome everybody to the wild, wild west
A state that's untouchable like Elliot Ness
The track hits ya eardrum like a slug to ya chest
Pack a vest for your Jimmy in the city of sex
=====
lyrics
posted by markovitch at 3:31 PM on February 22, 2006


Lausd - Jurrasic 5
Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers

And branching out to include all of california:
I remember California- REM
posted by kechi at 3:31 PM on February 22, 2006


Oh, and how about "Hollywood Babylon" by The Misfits?
posted by saladin at 3:33 PM on February 22, 2006


Just about everything by the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and various surf rock bands (Dick Dale, et al).
posted by frogan at 3:34 PM on February 22, 2006


Straight Outta Compton!!
posted by Megafly at 3:34 PM on February 22, 2006


Or anything from the Straight Outa Compton, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Dr. Dre school of rap.
posted by frogan at 3:35 PM on February 22, 2006


"Welcome to the Boomtown" by David + David
posted by gsh at 3:36 PM on February 22, 2006


Tom Waits:

Heartattack and Vine
Sweet Little Bullet
Twenty-Nine Dollars

And I'm sure there are more. Those are all three really good songs.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:39 PM on February 22, 2006


Missing Persons Walking in LA
posted by turbodog at 3:41 PM on February 22, 2006


Ooh, the Tom Waits mention reminds me of Diamonds on my Windshield, one of the great LA driving songs.
posted by gleuschk at 3:43 PM on February 22, 2006


Everclear - Santa Monica

I don't like Everclear, but I got sentimental about this song when I all I wanted to was to move back to LA from North Carolina.
posted by team lowkey at 3:45 PM on February 22, 2006


For when you're making a "moving out of LA" tape:

Jude's--Gotta get out of LA
posted by nadawi at 3:46 PM on February 22, 2006


Wikipedia list of songs about Los Angeles.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:51 PM on February 22, 2006


Revolution Blues by Neil Young
posted by Neiltupper at 3:53 PM on February 22, 2006


from Elliott Smith:

Alameda (that is a street in LA, right?)
Rose Parade
Angeles (sort of a stretch by the lyrics, but whatever)
posted by jetskiaccidents at 3:53 PM on February 22, 2006


"All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow.
posted by pomchkn at 3:54 PM on February 22, 2006


Los Angeles is Burning (look under the video downloads)
California Dreaming
Santa Monica
posted by CrunchyFrog at 3:57 PM on February 22, 2006


BranVan 3000's Drinking In LA?
posted by ktrey at 4:04 PM on February 22, 2006


"Come A Long Way", Michelle Shocked
"Johnny Hit And Run Pauline", X
"San Fernando Valley", Gene Autry
posted by Guy Smiley at 4:09 PM on February 22, 2006


LA Song by People Under the Stairs (I love that song.)
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:12 PM on February 22, 2006


To live and die in L.A. - Wang Chung
posted by any major dude at 4:17 PM on February 22, 2006


Still In Hollywood - Concrete Blonde
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:20 PM on February 22, 2006


Lots and lots of Warren Zevon. Join Me in L.A. Carmelita (already mentioned). Sentimental Hygiene. Even a Dog Can Shake Hands. The French Inhaler. I'm sure there are lots more, but the highlight for me is Desperados Under the Eaves (already mentioned). The riff on Dixie at the end is fantastic.
posted by amery at 4:21 PM on February 22, 2006


April 26, 1992 - Sublime
posted by arruns at 4:31 PM on February 22, 2006


"Dogs of L.A.," Liz Phair
"La Cienega Just Smiled," Ryan Adams
"June Gloom," The Like
"Bunker Hill," Michael Penn (A number of his songs, including "Perfect Candidate" and "I Can Tell," refer to various L.A. locales.)

And for generic California songs:
"Just Like California," Old 97s
"California," Semisonic
posted by serialcomma at 4:34 PM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Los Angelinos" - Billy Joel
"It Never Rains In Southern California" - Albert Hammond
posted by DandyRandy at 4:38 PM on February 22, 2006


Oops - forgot "99 Miles From LA" - also by Albert Hammond, but I like the version by Art Garfunkel.
posted by DandyRandy at 4:40 PM on February 22, 2006


Not LA specific, but great for driving across the country, "Go West"-Liz Phair
posted by peeps! at 4:43 PM on February 22, 2006


Guy Clark, "L.A. Freeway"

And a couple of songs inspired by the Sunset Strip riots:
Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth"
The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"
posted by maurice at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2006


I'd argue that Elliott Smith's "Rose Parade" and "Alameda" are actually about Portland. He does have a song called "L.A.," though. As do the Fall.
posted by lisa g at 4:47 PM on February 22, 2006


Also, "This Town" by the Go-Go's.
posted by lisa g at 4:50 PM on February 22, 2006


Death Cab for Cutie - 405
posted by blueplasticfish at 5:01 PM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


City of Angels--10,00 Maniacs
posted by jrossi4r at 5:14 PM on February 22, 2006


Zoot Suit Riot- Cherry Poppin Daddies
Born in East LA- Cheech Marin
Electrolite- REM
Hash Pipe- Weezer
The Trip- Donovan
posted by oneirodynia at 5:27 PM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


California Dreamin-Mamas and The Papas
posted by AMWKE at 5:34 PM on February 22, 2006


Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Under the Bridge
Santa Monica - Everclear
2Pac - California Love
posted by radioamy at 5:36 PM on February 22, 2006


I'm So LA by MYNX. A bit of a novelty, but for someone who's moving there a good snarky bit of commentary.
posted by cynthia_rose at 5:39 PM on February 22, 2006


Rose of Los Angeles by The Angels of Light
posted by RoseovSharon at 5:40 PM on February 22, 2006


California Stars- Wilco
Freefallin' -Tom Petty
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:47 PM on February 22, 2006


Songs about Los Angeles at Wikipedia.
posted by RoseovSharon at 5:49 PM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Lou Reed's "Dirty Boulevard".

I'm also fond of "California Songs" by a band called Local H. Could a collection of songs about L.A. be complete without a song about songs that are about L.A.? Of course not.

Also, you may want to check out an article called "LA's Top 100 Songs" by Steve Erickson. (You gotta scroll down just a bit to reach the beginning of the article). It's not a list of songs about L.A., but rather a list of "records with the current of the city running through them." Still, I'd feel remiss if I didn't mention it and it really is a good article just on its own merits.
posted by Clay201 at 5:51 PM on February 22, 2006


Whoops... didn't realize that kirkaracha had already pointed you to the Wikipedia link!

Also, though it's not just about L.A, check out Joni Mitchell's "California".

Lyrics:
Oh california I’m coming home
Oh make me feel good rock’n roll band
I’m your biggest fan
California, I’m coming home
posted by RoseovSharon at 5:53 PM on February 22, 2006


Many of the above are great. I away from my music collection, would recommend I Lost My Wallet in El Segundo.
posted by klangklangston at 6:01 PM on February 22, 2006


blueplasticfish: I'm pretty sure the 405 referenced in Death Cab for Cutie's song of the same name is the one in Seattle, not the one in Los Angeles.

That said, the two songs I'd say most capture the feeling of being in L.A. for me are DCFC's "Why You'd Want to Live Here" and Soul Coughing's "Screenwriter's Blues".
posted by jjg at 6:02 PM on February 22, 2006


The Devil Loves L.A. - OP8 (Giant Sand / Howe Gelb / Calexico / Lisa Germano)
posted by zsazsa at 6:14 PM on February 22, 2006


"Pico and Sepulveda" by Felix Figueroa and his Orchestra
(YMMV)

/Tar Pits!
posted by Opposite George at 6:15 PM on February 22, 2006


Fountain and Fairfax - Afghan Whigs
posted by lilboo at 6:27 PM on February 22, 2006


Also Joni Mitchell's 'Ladies of the Canyon,' which, like many gangsta-rap songs, is about a specific LA neighborhood.

(Was that Laurel-Canyon-sound question, maybe a couple months ago, on Ask, or was it Mofi or Mecha or something?)
posted by box at 7:09 PM on February 22, 2006


Long December - Counting Crows
Love Potion Number Nine - The Searchers
It Was A Good Day - Ice Cube

And another vote for
Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers
posted by Mercaptan at 7:41 PM on February 22, 2006


Motorcycle Boy - I Hate the Sunset Strip ("heavy metal shit")
from The Big One various artists compilation of SF/LA pop-punk bands, Flipside 1990

Slags the Rainbow, pay-to-play, et cetera.
posted by intermod at 7:53 PM on February 22, 2006


Madame Hollywood - Felix Da Housecat (esp. Tiga's Mr Hollywood mix)
posted by shoos at 9:33 PM on February 22, 2006


Technically, White Christmas is about LA too.
posted by brujita at 9:57 PM on February 22, 2006


"Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)," by the Mamas and the Papas.
posted by GaelFC at 10:09 PM on February 22, 2006


The 6ths song San Diego Zoo, while not about LA specifically, will never cease to call to mind the city for me. YMMV
posted by incessant at 11:39 PM on February 22, 2006


"Lost in Hollywood" - System of a Down.
posted by PenDevil at 3:38 AM on February 23, 2006


Unicorns L.A. by My Barbarian.
posted by insomnus at 3:51 AM on February 23, 2006


"bad night at the whisky" - the byrds
"comin' into los angeles" - arlo guthrie
posted by the cuban at 4:56 AM on February 23, 2006


Valley Girl - Frank Zappa (and Moon Unit)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:16 AM on February 23, 2006


I can't believe nobody has said "I Am I Said" by Neil Diamond. If the legendary Mr. Diamond does not meet your counterculture requirements, may I humbly suggest the cover version by Killdozer?
posted by nanojath at 8:16 AM on February 23, 2006


"Hot Tubs of Tears," by the Austin Lounge Lizards, is a very funny country/western song about LA:

Our love was an expressway from the start,
and you took the fast lane to my heart.
And now my eyes, like LA skies, are smoggy and damp.
Why did you take the nearest exit ramp?
I cry hot tubs of tears over you.
I can't eat a bite of tofu.


I also really like "LA,CA,USA," by Stereo Total. I don't speak German, so I don't understand any part of the lyrics beyond the title, but according to the band's website, it's "about a girl getting lost in Los Angeles, California. This town is as big as Belgium. She is in panic and is talking to her mother who cannot hear her."

And it's easy to put on your mix tape since the band has put up an MP3 of the song for free downloading.
posted by yankeefog at 8:42 AM on February 23, 2006


"For What it's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield, is about the riot on Sunset Strip.
posted by brujita at 10:46 AM on February 23, 2006


Bran Van - Drinking in LA
posted by jonah at 9:19 PM on February 23, 2006


Ice-T - Six in the Morning
posted by box at 7:40 AM on February 25, 2006


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