February 22, 2013

L.A. Music: The Lakers, and I Love L.A.

I know, I know, I haven't done one of my Friday L.A. Music posts in ages. (It's been 5 months!)

But I was inspired this week by the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss, the owner of the Lakers.  Now, I'm not a huge sports fan by any measure. But the Lakers have been a part of my life, a constant on the perimeters of my life, for a very long time. Growing up in L.A. county in the '80s, the Lakers reigned supreme, even in the years when they didn't win a championship.

I have vivid memories of when I was a teenager living in our small apartment building, watching the Lakers in the play-offs, hearing the neighbors' televisions all tuned to the same channel through our open sliding patio door. Everyone listening to Chick Hearn calling the plays. Everyone either shouting with happiness or screaming at their TV's in frustration.  I know it wasn't really everyone. But it sounded and felt as though it was.

On the nights when they did win a championship, I would rush to turn my radio to KLOS, the classic rock station. (Though it wasn't "classic rock" then). The DJ would be excited and crowing about the Laker's winning again, and then he or she would play Queen's "We Are the Champions" and again, it felt like everyone in a city of millions and millions was all singing along.They probably still do that on KLOS, and in every city around the country when the home team wins. But when I was 14, or 16 I wasn't thinking about the whole country, and radio stations weren't all owned by Clear Channel.

And I remember where I was working, and the terrible feeling that ran through the office, and by extension the whole city, when Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV and would be immediately retiring.  I remember that day like older people remember where they were when Kennedy was killed -- it felt that big, and that impossible.

It was a nice, fitting touch that Randy Newman performed at Dr. Buss's memorial this Thursday. He sang "You've Got A Friend In Me," which he wrote for Toy Story. Randy Newman has also been part of the Laker's mythology for a long time, as his I Love L.A. gets played before every home game at the Staples Center arena.

When I watched the video this morning, I surprised myself by getting a little misty-eyed. It made me miss my dad, who really liked the song. I can picture him throwing up his arms and singing "We love it!" It made me miss that era of my life, when this song was popular, and music videos were still fairly new. It feels like I watched this video a LOT in the '80s. I remember the big push to make this the actual Official Song of Los Angeles, not Frank Sinatra's contrived, non-catchy, "L.A. is My Lady."  (However, I may have to post that video sometime soon: not only does if feature Van Halen and Donna Summer, but you also get Dean Martin and LaToya Jackson sipping margaritas together. It's that kind of '80s awesome.)

So here's I Love L.A.  Which looks exactly like the L.A. I know & love and grew up in. Even if it does show clips of Disneyland, which isn't even in the same county, but is still part of L.A.. Freeways and sprawl and low-riders and strip malls and blue sky: Home.
Rollin' down Imperial Highway
Big nasty redhead at my side 
Santa Ana winds blowin' hot from the north
We were born to ride. 

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