This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #324: Los Angeles by X.
When we hear the term, “Punk Rock” our immediate image tends to be that of UK bands such as The Sex Pistols. But, having disaffected youth is not a malady unique to the English. The wanderers, the rootless, those convinced the game is rigged and that life will never be fair well, they exist everywhere. So, for today’s post, we are going to hop back across the pond, all the way to the West Coast of the US, to take a look at, arguably, along with the Ramones, the most well-respected Punk band in America……a band simply called, “X”.
“X” were a band that consisted of lead singer/guitarist, John Doe, co-lead singer, Exene Cervenka, bassist, Billy Zoom and drummer, D.J. Bonebrake. They played out of Los Angeles and gained notoriety for their poetic descriptions of the underbelly of L.A. life. Their songs usually revolved around real people that they encountered in bars, where they played, or, out on the streets, where they frequented during non-playing times. Most people immediately assume that the lyrics to Punk songs tend to be raw and rough. “X” played a raw and rough style of musicianship but, their lyrics were often more like short stories put to music and, as such, many of the lyrics to their songs are compared to poets such as Charles Bukowski.
All of “X”‘s most lauded albums were produced by Ray Manzarek of “The Doors”. While never a commercial success, “X” are credited with influencing a generation of acts that followed; encompassing everyone from The Riot Grrrl groups such as “Bikini Kill”, to early Alternative bands such as “Dinosaur Jr.” and “Sonic Youth”, to more modern rockers such as “Green Day”.
The song, “Los Angeles” is from their debut album of the same name. It is an anti-racist song that centres on a person who feels she has to leave L.A. for whiter pastures because the city is becoming too diverse. In Canada, our Prime Minister is on record as saying that one of Canada’s great strengths is our (cultural) diversity. Well, the main character in the song, “Los Angeles” begs to differ and thinks that all of the various cultures and religions and sexual orientations being deemed acceptable these days is a recipe for disaster and are what are, actually, the cause of decline in America.
If you give this song a listen, be prepared for a raw, unpolished, minimally-produced song. But, as well, be prepared for more than just people thrashing about and screaming their outrage to the world. “Los Angeles” by “X” is more literary than angry and, if you give it a chance, you will meet a well-drawn out character with lots to say. The band did not agree with their character’s thoughts but, none the less, they gave her a respectful airing and have left us to be her judge. I judge her as having a sad, misguided heart but, that’s just me. For now, you be the judge.
Here is “Los Angeles” by one of America’s greatest punk rock bands ever, “X”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for “Los Angeles” by X, can be found here.
The link to the official website for the band X, can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for showcasing all genres of music and giving all of them an equal airing. The link to their website can be found here.