California Dreaming

February 17, 2009

A musical ode to California

There was a thread on a message board which invited readers to suggest songs from the late 60s and early 70s that were devoted to the beatification of the state of California. This spun the hamster wheel that fuels my brain since there were so many odes to the apex and aftermath of free love and hallucinogens. Some of these songs embrace the innocence of bursting through social norms, others pay tribute to the majestic scenery of its cities and rural enclaves while others bemoan the loss of innocence in the wake of addiction and the realization that love is anything but free. Anyhow, I figured that I would share my contribution here. Here is the tracklisting that I intended, but somehow my upload rearranged its order. Anyway you slice it, it is still a delicious pie.

Sir Douglas Quintet-Menocino

Moby Grape-Hey Grandma

John Phillips-Topanga Canyon

Guy Clark-LA Freeway

Terry Melcher-Beverly Hills

Neil Young-Revolution Blues

Shirl Milete-Love Child

Robert Charlebois-California

Mickey Newbury-San Francisco Mable Joy

Michael Nesmith-Hollywood

Lee Hazlewood-LA LAdy

Laura Nyro-California Shoeshine Boys

Jim Ford-Working My Way to Los Angeles

Jack Nitzsche-Lower California

Jesse Colin Young-Ridgetop

Flatlanders-San Francisco Bay Blues

Flying Burrito Bros-Sin City

David Crosby-Tamalpais High(At about 3)

Terry Allen-Cortez Sail

Mickey Newbury-Frisco Depot

Shirl Milete-s/t

August 6, 2008

Shirl Milete

s/t (1969 Poppy)

I cannot find much info about Shirl Milete and am curious about this guy’s career outside of the one album he released. He covers Townes Van Zandt on his self-titled debut, but that is all I could find on the internet. A friend sent me a vinyl rip of this last month and it has grown on me quite a bit.

I guess you could pigeonhole Shirl Milete as a part of the outlaw country movement, but there is a hint of flower power amidst the gruff tales of cocaine abuse, draft dodging and lives spent in poverty. Shirl’s voice sort of reminds me of a cross between Mickey Newbury and Johnny Cash and its kind of sad that he didn’t do anything after this impressive debut. I think I am drawn to the oddball psychedelic elements that seem so out of place on this good ol’ boy country album. He does a bizarro tune called “Love Child(Where will You Go” that has a soul chorus, piano vamping and orchestral crescendos as he bemoans the free love lifestyle of the hippies. However, he also pens a draft dodging ode called “I Wonder if Canada’s Cold” that attacks the Vietnam War and celebrates the strength involved in saying no to an unjust war. Whoever arranged the instrumentation on this album deserves an award since this is such a lush and subtly trippy album that isn’t quite country, pop or psych. It is all over the place and its eclecticism is what keeps drawing me back to this mysterious album. Feel free to fill in the banks if you know anything about Shirl Milete.