Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tom Waits, "San Diego Serenade"

I'm currently planning my road trip out to Nebraska to see my family this summer. I am getting excited by all of the possibilities of travel open to us, but also by spending a few days in the slower, less hectic world under the big Great Plains sky. While driving my kids around the suburban streets of northern New Jersey (my current home) this evening, I had a semi-official bootleg of a 1974 Tom Waits radio program on the stereo, and was struck deep by "San Diego Serenade."

It's a song Waits wrote about his hometown after having moved to and fully embraced Los Angeles. Like a lot of people (including yours truly) who leave where they're from to make their way in the world, he had long looked down on his hometown. The song is about that feeling when your teen angst fades and you can see the place where you grew up with more sympathetic eyes. The line "I never saw my hometown/ Until I stayed away too long" pretty much sums it up. My hometown is not as comely as San Diego, but it too deserves a serenade from me.

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