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As guitarist Robb Hagle of Swamp Child put it when he covered this song at one of my "EGPhest" birthday celebrations, there may be a bit of subterfuge going on here and perhaps this song is not really about L.A.
Or maybe that is what you are meant to think, but in fact, really, it is. Remember, never start a land war in Asia and never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
Born of two separate trips to Los Angeles in April and May of 2017, this song started as an attempt to capture some memories of hanging out with my niece on the beach — as it turns out it’s quite a lossy format to record memories with. Still, something came out of this effort — the contrasts between the natural and built environments of Southern California, perhaps — and who knows, maybe something else.
In any case, I’ve resorted to my usual naming convention, which is to, instead of trying to foist something highfalutin title on my listeners, just assume they will refer to it as “that song about Los Angeles” or more simply, “The L.A. Song” — I could have gone with “Forever and L.A.” I suppose, but I decided I have more self respect than that.
Once written, I started taking the song out to open mics in San Francisco and was pleased with host Brendan Getzell’s contribution on keys when he sat in at the Utah. Later, when offered the feature slot at Neck of the Woods for the Wednesday open mic in December, I cobbled together a band that included Mr. Hagle who also let us use his practice space. This song was a favorite of the band (a sadly short lived incarnation of my perennial "fake" band Ducks With Pants) and I decided I should capture Robb’s contribution as part of a recording, hoping I could marry his part and Brendan’s through the magic of the studio. I also brought in the fabulous Michelle Renee (of “We Reverberate”) to help with backing vocals for the 1st (and perhaps sadly only) full band show later on in February, also at Neck of the Woods. Michelle’s part worked so well, I brought her into the studio as well. Producer Ben Bernstein on bass and Mike Stevens on drums round out the players on the album.
There’s also a video that goes with the song — I made it my mission to have production complete on the music so when I later attended the ASCAP Expo in May 2018, I would be able to shoot a video while down in Southern California. I’m often told my music is “cinematic” in nature so I decided to put that notion to the test — where else better than in tinsel town itself? Daniel Button of Button Up productions acted as director and camera man for a visual accompaniment that I’m sure you’ll be able to find somewhere out there on the web.
Be that as it may, I hope you enjoy this little piece of audio cinéma vérité.
- E.G. Phillips
The L.A. Song
I follow the line you draw down the shore
With a stick you drag in your wake
You demand I adhere to each swerve and each loop
And not deviate
The sun bobs below the
Surface of the ocean
As if it might be gone
For every letter I scratch in the sand
You hastily scrape one away
Lest I should finish scrawling your name
Next to the waves
For according to the rules
Of the game we’re now playing
You’d fall under my control
Cactus flowers and tide pool hunts
Must inevitably give way
To strip malls and signage and the bleached out rainbows
Girding the freeways
A labyrinth of traffic
Inundates the landscape
Getting anywhere takes
E.G. Phillips is a San Francisco based songwriter who creates lyric driven songs with his own special blend of whimsy and cinematic imagery which he uses to give a wry take on dealing with the longings of the heart and the madness of existence.