You and San Francisco

June 23, 2010 7:28 AM

Only took me fifteen years to finish this song. Story inside.

This is a sort of coda to Seventeen Below and Darker Shade of Blue, which were both about the same person. Cut a long story short, things eventually turned right, to the tune of three kids and two dogs.

I started writing this song just after we got back together, late 95 or so, but I could never finish it. Fifteen years later, I managed to find the words.

I really like my voice in this... which is incredibly unusual. It seems that soft singing and a close mic really works. I wish I could figure out how to transfer that into other styles.

This is just me playing it live into a single mic. I think there's one edit in there but otherwise au naturel.

posted by unSane (7 comments total)

I had the music all ready to go, but the lyrics stymied me. I had a bunch of other verses for it but it could go on forever. Still tinkering here and there.

You & San Francisco
words/music © J Brownlow

Never been to Memphis
But I've seen the lights of Harlem
New York City skyline
Turning slow beneath my wings

And I've never been to Nashville
But I've seen the Blue Ridge Mountains
Mighty Shenandoah
Shining silver in the sun

It's raining in Hollywood
And Big Sur's on fire
On the Santa Cruz boardwalk
The surf's getting higher

But I, I'm coming home to you
And San Francisco, San Francisco
'Cause I, I'm still in love with you
And San Francisco, San Francisco

Carolina killed me
With a noose of Spanish Moss
And Montreal chilled me
And Vegas is lost

I've walked the length of Broadway
And the streets of Bakersfield
I stood at the bend in the river
Where Custer's fate was sealed

It's raining in Big Sur
And Hollywood's on fire
On the Santa Cruz boardwalk
The surfers get higher

But I, I'm coming home to you
And San Francisco, San Francisco
'Cause I, I'm still in love with you
And San Francisco, San Francisco

I can still remember
When we crossed the great divide
I felt a new world
Open up inside

Well the rose of Spanish Harlem
She never was revealed
And the ghost of old Buck Owens
Stalks the streets of Bakersfield

And it's raining in Malibu
And Compton's on fire
On the Santa Cruz boardwalk
They're building funeral pyres

But I, I'm coming home to you
And San Francisco, San Francisco
'Cause I, I'm still in love with you
And San Francisco, San Francisco
posted by unSane at 12:26 PM on June 23, 2010

Hauntingly beautiful chords, and you're right; your voice sounds great on this. The lyrics are incredibly sweet and obviously heartfelt. And congrats on the kids and the dogs! :P
posted by MaiaMadness at 9:21 PM on June 23, 2010

Thank you, Maia. I originally conceived it as a sort of Neil Young 'Harvest' era / Wilco kind of thing but then I was sort of inspired by Johnny Cash's version of Ewan McColl's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which is about as raw and emotionally stripped bare a performance as anything I've ever heard. He just sort of whispers the song, and takes it *incredibly* slow.

I just finished the lyrics this morning so I sat there in my pyjamas and sang it while I had it. I had to keep my voice down because one of the kids is home sick.

I love all that Butch Vig / Johnny Cash stuff, although sometimes I can't listen to it because it gets too much for me.
posted by unSane at 10:20 PM on June 23, 2010

Seems appropriately epic for a 15-year song. Takes its time but is getting there. Very much a looking-out-the-bus-window kind of feeling.
posted by fleacircus at 12:06 AM on June 24, 2010

Heh, I know what you mean. You sort of expect it to wind up after the second chorus, but then it modulates up into an eight bar bridge and the whole thing gets going again.

I was trying to figure out ways of making it more concise, but the hooky D major chord of the chorus is only any good after the Bb at the end of the pre-chorus, otherwise I would have used that section as the bridge.

I was thinking of adding a bit more instrumentation as the song proceeds, which I think could lift it and give it more of a sense of progression.
posted by unSane at 3:40 AM on June 24, 2010

(I meant epic in scope of the lyrics not length FWIW.) I think the variation of the lyrics of the first half of the refrain is pretty effective.
posted by fleacircus at 11:22 AM on June 24, 2010

The full, balls-out studio version with an epic guitar solo by Major Dundee is here.
posted by unSane at 5:27 PM on November 7, 2010

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