Click to hear the song:
Here’s the story behind the music:
“London Calling”, like a lot of my songs, started from personal experience and then spun off into something else (I guess most creative experiences are probably a little like that). A few years ago, I went to visit a friend of mine who was living in San Sebastian, Spain – the Basque Riviera. I decided to take the scenic route, which included 3 days in New York City and a week in London and Paris before showing up in Northern Spain.
I was really impressed by all of these places, but the time I spent in London was far and away the most inspirational, from a songwriting point of view (I actually got several songs out of this trip, some of which showed up on my first album, “Interstate Medicine”). I didn’t know anyone there, so I basically spent all my time just walking around and actually seeing all these celebrated landmarks, neighborhoods and locations – Oxford High Street, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park, etc. – which I knew from reading about English history.
Or from listening to rock’n’roll. I was hoofing it through the London of the Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen and a zillion others, and it was great!
It was also pretty lonely – did I mention that it was a solo trip? With no one to talk to, and with all this amazing sensory input flooding in, the ideas came pretty quickly when I hit the pubs at the end of the day with my notebook, especially on the afternoon of July 4th, towards the end of my trip.
For some reason, the Brits aren’t too excited about celebrating Independence Day – who knew? – and the fact that I couldn’t find anyone to eat watermelon and light off M-80’s with really brought me down. Plus it was foggy. And rainy. I wrote the second verse of this song right then and there, drinking warm Boddington’s and looking out the window at Hampstead Heath. Then I caught a plane and got the hell out of there.