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Lyric of the Week: 1, 2, 3, CALIFORNIA

There she stands on the opposite end of the continent

Looking for all the world so content and confident

I see her there and wonder where the last two decades went

And whether the current arrangement will end up permanent

Well, she finished up school and did what was best

Packed up her life and flew back out west

Fixed herself up right and made her own nest

She’s in her element

But I miss her to such an extent

Well, I wish that I could close my eyes

Teleport and materialize

Right there by her side in California

I wish that I could count to three

I’d be with her and she’d be with me

1, 2, 3, California

Well, I can’t believe that I’d ever have to leave Los Angeles

I came to stay but got swept away, trapped again I guess

I wanted to put roots down but I couldn’t ‘cause the ground was too tenuous

So for various causes I had to cut my losses before things got dangerous

See, the road of good intention led

From the black down into the red

With every week another 2x4 to the head

There was no success

But I still miss it nonetheless

Well, I wish my risk had paid me back tenfold

If fortune indeed favors the bold

Let me mine and find my gold in California

I wish that I could count to three

Make things the way they used to be

1, 2, 3, California

So California … I’ve been away, so far away, for so very long

California … why does the name ring so beautifully in so many songs

Oh California … once you’ve been there just about every place else is nowhere

California … is there anything that I can do to get myself back there

And what has become of everything that made the place great

It’s become an asylum and it appears to be run by its inmates

The population’s bleeding with so many leaving for other states

Taking what they can and abandoning it to whatever fate

Is it really as bad as the news seems

After years of gruesomes and moonbeams

With all their misguided do-good schemes

Will it regenerate

Or is it all too late

Well, I wish that I could wave a wand

Turn it back into a world beyond

Before everything is gone in California

I wish that I could count to three

Make it all the way it used to be

1, 2, 3, California

©2023 The Hesh Inc.

23 California Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403
The Santa Monica address that inspired the title of this song.

I lived in Los Angeles for two spells, 2003-2006 and 2010-2011. Both were pivotal moments in my life, especially the first spell, which upended a lot of attitudes I previously had and turned my life around. Despite the difficult times that I did have when I lived there—divorce the first time, economic hardship the second—I managed to fall in love with the place, in a way I hadn't felt since falling in love with the Jersey Shore as a teenager. Unfortunately, because of those difficulties, I was not able to keep living there, but in my subsequent 'exiles' on the East Coast, I lived for going back to California to visit whenever I could, visiting my daughter and my friends as well as spending some time there in the sunshine, and keeping the hopes alive that I may one day return for good. I spent the Passover holiday of 2016 in LA. Ironically, my daughter was spending the same holiday back east, and I sorely missed being able to see her, especially while spending time in her very neighborhood in Santa Monica. One evening, as my wife and I were walking back to our car from the hotel where we had just had dinner with some of our friends, we passed an apartment building at 123 California Avenue, with its address displayed prominently on the side of the building as is the common style in the area. I took note and told myself it would be an excellent title for a song about missing California, and missing my daughter in California.

The actual song, though, did not get written until June 2023, as I was laying plans to go on another trip to the West Coast. My thoughts of missing my daughter went into the first verse; the reasons I had reluctantly moved away made up the second verse; my general feelings about California crossed the bridge; and my lamentation about what has become of the state in the ensuing years rounded out the song in the third verse.

During those long stretches of time away from California, particularly when I'd sit at my desk at work feeling 'homesick,' I listened to and compiled several playlists of songs about missing California, wishing one could be in California, going to California, living in California, and leaving California. These were songs by many artists in as many styles, but taken together they comprised one overarching genre of California songs. (If you are a Spotify user, you can find these playlists here, here, here, and here.) The music I wrote for my song is a distillation of many of these songs and sentiments they express. Perhaps one day, when I record my opus about my times in California, this song will serve as the closing track.


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