Down and Out in LA

I always was intrigued by the homeless situation in Los Angeles. I never experienced anything like it growing up in upstate New York. In Southern California we have tent cities and encampments under highway overpasses. It’s nearly impossible to come off a highway freeway ramp and not have someone at the bottom of it with a sign looking for some spare change, food, or a job. It got me thinking about how someone winds up in such a situation. So, I decided to create a story write a song from that person’s perspective. 

I came up with a backstory about a normal guy whose whole world crashes after his marriage breaks up and he now finds himself being homeless, living on the street, begging for money and raiding trash bins for recyclables. He still has nightmares of his ex-wife haunting him, but dreams of a happy future someday down in Mexico “dancing with the senoritas”.  He is alone, has no friends, and often his dinner is half eaten McDonald's hamburgers and cold french fries. 

Many songwriters like to offset stories of depressed characters with very uplifting music. “Dancing in the Dark” immediately comes to mind as an example.  So I set out to do something similar. I utilized the major and suspended chord structure, which is a Springsteen signature sound and then fused it together with a TexMex Rock vibe, which adding trumpet really brought to life. 

I played all the guitar parts for the song. Rob Hall was on bass and Stephen Haaker drums. John Manness played Trumpet and Fabian Chavez was on Sax.  Harrison Crenshaw sang all the backup and harmony vocals.  Brett Grossman and Stephen Haaker engineered and produced the song. We recorded it at Perfect Sound Studios in Frogtown CA and Cosmic Voyager Studio in Los Angeles. It was mastered at the Lodge in NYC by Emily Lazar.

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