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Steve Lopez: Searching for the song of L.A.

Is there a song for and about Los Angeles that tops all the others?Steve Lopez

Judging by early reader reaction to my column about a local musician named Justin Chart, who set out to write the definitive local anthem, I think it’s going to be hard to knock Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” off the top of the charts.

But musical tastes are as different and numerous as L.A. neighborhoods. As for amateur efforts, I’m getting music videos sent to me that cover everything from pop to folk to rock 'n' roll.

As for L.A.-centric songs by professionals, the options are just as eclectic.  I’m hearing about favorites from readers, friends and colleagues.

“L.A. Woman” by the Doors
“Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger
“Los Angeles” by X
“Straight Out of Compton” by NWA (Warning: Explicit lyrics)
“L.A. Town” by Hoyt Axton
“Come A Long Way” by Michelle Shocked
“Free Fallin' ” by Tom Petty
“Hotel California” by the Eagles
“Time Spent in L.A.” by the Dawes
“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N' Roses
“California Love” by Tupac Shakur
“This is L.A.” by the Briggs

One of my favorites, for both the music and the video, is “The Only Place” by Best Coast. And who knew that the late Fred Travalena, a comedian, impressionist and singer, tried to come up with an official local anthem in 1983, calling it “L.A.’s My Spot.”

Jay Jackson, a singer who plays newscaster Perd Hapley on “Parks and Rec,” suggested I check out Barbara Morrison’s “City by the Sea,” which is a gem. And reader Bruce Ferguson checked in to tell me Fred Astaire could do more than dance. He was a songwriter, too, and co-wrote “City of the Angels,” which you can see on YouTube.

“Life’s a taste of honey,” wrote Astaire, “when the days are bright and sunny, while you dream of picking money off the trees.”

If you’ve got a favorite, tell us what it is.

And if you think you can top them all, then write a new song, record it (don’t worry about production values), and when you’re done, put it up on YouTube and send us the link.


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-- Steve Lopez

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