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PALM LATITUDES

Metropol : Song of the Southland

November 19, 1995|Michael Walker

Los Angeles has never had a song the way Chicago has a song or New York has a song, probably because nobody ever recorded an encore-at-Caesars belter about it. What L.A. songs there are tend to be frankly metaphorical (the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge") or possess too-weird-for-the-garden-club vagaries (the Doors"'L.A. Woman" purrs like a Harley until Jim Morrison swerves into the ditch with "Mr. Mojo Risin"' business).

The closest we've got to a full-tilt, hummable city anthem is Randy Newman's "I Love L.A," which probably indicts as much as it celebrates. The latter was apparently lost on the elders at the New Los Angeles Marketing Partnership, the boosterish business and government consortium in charge of redeeming L.A.'s riot- and earthquake-tossed image. LAMP wanted to feature "I Love L.A." in its $4.5-million print, TV and radio campaign lauchned this year but "the price was exorbitant--well into six figures," says Rich Jarc, senior vice president at LAMP's ad agency Davis, Ball & Colombatto. As luck would have it, David Anderson and Bert Kelly, also Davis, Ball vice presidents, moonlight as jingle writers. After a few sessions at the keyboard, they had a nifty new "anthem for the city" called, "Together We're the Best." Here is the first verse:

Together we are shining

Together we're the best

Our future's so much brighter

Los Angeles.

Here is the chorus:

Los Angeles, Los Angele s

In case you missed it, the song and campaign debuted in June. Both were summarily pilloried; the pages of this newspaper offered the appraisals: "A Dr. Pepper ad run in slow motion" and "a clunky slogan, in which Los An geles is mispronounced to rhyme with best ."

Anderson shrugs. "It's hard to create anything that pleases 7 million people. We tried to write a simple song that would give people pride in the place they live. The majority of the response has been really positive."

But the skeptical Angeleno wonders: Wasn't there anything besides Newman's smug pseudo-celebration and LAMP's overweening earnestness? Of course there was. Herewith, a few bars of "L.A., L.A." by the fine, defunct San Francisco-via-Los Angeles band Translator, released way back in 1983:

I live in a town with a bad reputation

West Coast, U.S. of A., my location is Los Angeles.

I live , work and play in L.A. night and day

Dream away, and I'll say,

Sometimes my dreams come true in Los Angeles.

There's good points, bad points

Action like mad

Joints are smoking, I'll add

But I'm glad

That I'm living in Los Angeles.

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