We couldn't have a greater love-hate relationship with the big city 50 miles north of us if we tried. Not only do we lose all kinds of talent to Los Angeles (Local Natives, Young the Giant, Matthew Morrison, even Jeffree Starr, for chrissakes), but there's a definite inferiority/superiority complex going on when it comes to how we feel about LA.
On one hand, there's mostly miles and miles of antiseptic suburban action out here. On the other, we have endless free parking, old punks and big apartments. On one hand, we have hordes of women who've had nose jobs and gotten fake boobs without the celebrity status. On the other, all our beaches are awesome. On the one hand, we don't have a Hollywood Bowl. On the other? We got Disneyland, bitches!
Luckily, we're not the only ones who harbor a strong resentment against the City of Angels. After the jump, the best songs you'll ever hear about hating LA.
1. “Why You'd Want To Live Here,” Death Cab For Cutie – Possibly the most famous “I hate LA” song in recent history, it's hilarious to hear people cheering for it when Death Cab sheepishly (and proudly) includes it in its SoCal set lists. It's full of imagery of why Ben Gibbard isn't quite fond of LA, from the landscape (“It smells like an airport runway/garbage cans comprise the medians of freeways/always creeping even when the population's sleeping”) to the people (“I can almost see a skyline through a thickening shroud of egos/Is this the city of angeles or demons?/You can't swim in a town this shallow”). Gibbard should know–after all, he married a movie star.
2. “So Bay,” Frank Black – Sometime Long Beach resident and Pixies front man, while performing solo, wrote a song called “So Bay,” where he extolled LA county's shitty sidewalks: “On the sidewalk/the shitty sidewalk/I guess I'm glad rolling off of my feet/I roll a straight line on the bus line …/Down at the liquor store guys cashing their checks trying to buy coke/It's almost night and I just might head to the strand down by the sea/at the edge, edge of the world that's where I really want to be.”
3. “Can't Take This Town,” Colin Hay – Men at Work's Colin Hay is clear about how stupid LA is: “I park the car, and no-one to pay/And one pizza later, it's towed away” He even had a solution: “I can't take this town, I just don't believe it/I can't take this town, I better love it or leave it.” Apparently, the man from down under decided to love it–he's lived in LA for 20 years.
4. “Los Angeles,” X – Exene Cervenka and John Doe were the quintessential LA punks, and the fact that a) Exene now lives in Orange and b) this song is relevant 30 years after it was written says something. “She had to leave Los Angeles/She started to hate every Nigger and Jew/Every Mexican that gave her lotta shit/Every homosexual and the idle rich/It felt sad she had to get out.”
5. “Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns N' Roses – As the story goes, a bum told Axl Rose these exact words the day he got off a Grayhound bus in LA from Indiana: “You know where you are/You're in the jungle baby/You're gonna die!” And in the jungle “It gets worse here every day/Ya learn ta live like an animal … Watch it bring you to your knees! Ha!”
6. “LA,” Neil Young – Maybe Neil Young was just feeling ignored in LA, but it sure didn't sound like he liked any of it: “And you now, L.A. Uptight, city in the smog/when the suppers are planned/And the freeways are crammed/And the mountains erupt/And the valley is sucked/Into cracks in the earth/Will I finally be heard by you.”
7. “In California.” Performed by Neko Case/Written by Lisa Marr – There's no shortage of LA-will-eat-you-alive songs and these next two picks are prime examples of just how poignant that is: “Now I'm living in Korea Town/Waking to the sound of car alarms … In the land where the sun is always shining on/ Crying alone, palm tress are laughing at me…/Another suicide on the 405 … Bound to make it do or die/Talk a walk to Bonnie Brae/Try to wash these dreams away.”
8. “Angeles,” Elliott Smith – This song is way more gutting and sad because Smith allegedly killed himself in LA: “Someones always coming around here trailing some new kill/Says I seen your picture on a hundred dollar bill/And whats a game of chance to you, to him is one of real skill.” Maybe Smith just missed his native Northwest, but in his songs it's hard to see how he could've been happy in LA.
9. “To Live and Die in LA,” 2Pac – To be honest, this quintessentially LA song is both a love-it and hate-it ode to all that you can find in LA. But it doesn't paint a pretty picture: “It's the, City of Angels and constant danger/South Central LA, can't get no stranger/Full of drama like a soap opera, on the curb/Watchin the ghetto bird helicopters, I observe/Writin to my peoples when they ask for pictures/Thinkin Cali just fun and bitches, hahaha.”
10. “The City With Two Faces,” Goldfinger – It's not particularly famous, but Goldfinger's literal fuck you to the city is pretty great as dis tracks go: “You act like you're a friend / But then you talk 'bout how we suck / Just save it for your dildo / That's the only thing you'll fuck / If I was smart I'd run fast / Out of this town / Sometimes I want to / shout and scream / Fuck L.A.”
And here's your bonus track: “California,” by Rufus Wainwright: “Big time rollers, part time models/So much to plunder/That I think I'll sleep instead.”