The Adios Lounge is now coming to you from rainy Los Angeles. That’s right, the Lounge has returned to the motherland from Austin, Texas. (I’m originally from Huntington Beach). It wasn’t a move I anticipated making, say, 5-6 months ago, but life has a funny way of shakin’ some unpredictable action. So, in homage to this place for which I’ve always had mixed feelings — but which has been surprisingly welcoming thus far — I wanted to offer up a song that digs deep into that bag of mixology. Most of my favorite songs about L.A. are palpably scornful in the mode of Neil Young (“L.A.” and “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”) and Bob Forrest (“Lena Horne Still Sings Stormy Weather” with Thelonious Monster and “L.A. Country Hometown Blues” with The Bicycle Thief. I suppose this tune isn’t altogether different, but I do think the melancholy offsets the seething hatred. I know, nitpicking.
“Another fool playing songs that don’t matter,
For people who chatter on endlessly.”
This song actually has its roots in the Pacific Northwest. In the mid-’90s, Lisa Marr was the singer and bassist for Cub, jangle-poppers from Vancouver, British Columbia, who featured the occasional drum stylings of one Neko Case (pictured right). After Cub broke up in 1997, Marr moved to L.A. to continue her music career, first in Buck, then in The Lisa Marr Experiment, from whose 2000 album 4 AM, this gem can be found.
In 2001, Neko cut an 8-song EP featuring mostly Canadian songwriters, including the aforementioned Mr. Young. Called Canadian Amp it’s a quiet gem in the Case catalog, which in many ways presaged her seemingly permanent move into torch-song territory (much to my rock ‘n’ roll loving chagrin). That said, when Neko lights that torch, it stays lit, and “In California” absolutely slays. Marr’s song is a brilliantly-realized vision of Los Angeles, but it’s Neko’s voice, suffused with melancholy and wistful nostalgia, that elevates it to a place that can’t be reached with overdubs and Pro Tools. Yeah, take that technology!