I claim three home towns, three places that I identify with.
My family’s roots are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both my parents came from there, I have a lot family still there, I visit there more often than any other place I have to do serious travel to get to. My wife, who also grew up in and near Milwaukee, mocks me for not having been toughened up by living through nearly as many Wisconsin winters as she did.
There actually aren’t all that many songs I can find about Milwaukee. This is surprising to me: Milwaukee is host to the nation’s largest music festival and there is something iconic about it. The most enjoyable “Milwaukee song” that I’ve found is by Fatboy Slim, demonstrating his early oeuvre into a very danceable number, if not necessarily the sort of emotion that I associate with my visits to good ol’ Miltown:
I’ve not a lot of choice about a song to represent the city where I actually live right now. Joseph Edward Foreman gave what is easily the most famous musical shout-out to the area fifteen years ago. One might enjoy the high-quality official music video, but the slideshow-by-a-fan video has the full, uncensored lyrics.
The municipal shout-out happens at the easy-to-remember 4:20 mark. The official video omits this as there was simply too much giggling going on by the end of the song for official release.
And, sadly, the protagonist’s experiences are indeed of a theme to those that I’ve seen and heard described by a rather large segment of local population — but fortunately not by me!
But really, if you ask me where I’m from, I’m going to say “Los Angeles.”
Los Angeles is where I finished my education. It’s where I made my own way in the world, formed my own adult identity. It’s the place where both the bitter and the sweet have happened. It’s the symbolic, geographic representation of aspiration: people come to Los Angeles to “make it.” Although I’m now in the exurbs, and the traffic drives me absolutely bonkers, I still identify as an Angeleno and barring some sort of a major life change, I expect that at least a part of me will always do so, for the rest of my days.
The easy choice for blending the energy, fun, bitterness, and iconic sonic imagery of a city that easily could have been named Rio Porciúncula would be the eponymous song which is the magnum opus of the lovely and talented Exene Cervenka:
But I’m going to say that as much fun as X’s song is, a New York band hit the exact right note, more perfectly capturing the rootlessness, the feeling that the Big Break is just around the corner, and the bizarre dissonance of experiencing a sparseness of landscape smack in the middle of one of America’s biggest cities. Friends, this is my favorite hometown song:
So what’s your favorite song about your home town?
(Damn, the Boss looks young in that video! Music starts about two minutes in.)
Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.