There isn't really a definitive song about L.A. Plenty exist. But no definitive statement. No New York, New York, no 'Chicago'. No By the time I get to Phoenix even.
However there are more songs about the city than perhaps any other. It's that mix of sun / sex / shore / skyline contrasted with motel / murder / money / madness. And the overall vibe that this is a pitiless city. That behind the American mask of Can Do, everyone is simply in it for themselves. "This town is crazy. Nobody cares." as Beck sang on Lost Cause.
But, typical of the schizophrenic attitude artists have to the city, the most relentlessly upbeat on this episode is Beck's Que onda, guero? - an Hispanic tribute to the hometown LA suburb of his childhood, the vegetable man and the mariachi bands. Even Warren G's braggadocio G-Funk tribute to being mugged has the sunny SoCal vibe you can hum along to even if you're stuck in traffic on a rainy Wednesday morning.
There's LA and there's Hollywood. The gap between those who make it and all those who arrive wide-eyed and innocent off the bus from the midwest is the stuff of LA mythology. Father John Misty does a great modern take with Fun Times in Babylon, but for me the classic celluloid tribute is a song from my own childhood - 10cc's Somewhere in Hollywood.
I've always been intimidated by the cynical hollowness behind the relentless sunshine in LA. Driving down the west coast We headed off into the desert, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. I sort of regret that now. One day I'll make it back and have a look round the town. Tracklist:-
Los Angeles, Frank Black
Regulate, Warren G
Que Onda Guero, Beck
Let me back in, Rilo Kiley
LA Woman, The Doors
Pacific Coast Highway, Sonic Youth
LA, The Fall
Celluloid Heroes, The Kinks
Somewhere in Hollywood, 10cc
Funtimes in Babylon, Father John Misty