Monday, November 09, 2009

Songs of Pasadena

Weeks ago I posted about Pasadena, a hit sung by the Euro-pop group Maywood. You may want to get up to speed by reading that post before continuing with this sequel.

Later, Ben Harper, one of Mixed Meters' Three Readers, offered up a song by John Paul Young called It's a Long Long Way to Pasadena. JPY is as well known in the United States as Maywood. The link Ben offered has been removed due to copyright - but here's the golden oldie version sung live.

Another of Mixed Meters' Three Readers, Charles Ulrich, alerted me to a much earlier tune known as Pasadena (although it is actually entitled Home in Pasadena because that's how the lyric goes). This one was written by Harry Warren who wrote hundreds of famous songs in the twenties, thirties and forties.

Home in Pasadena was written in 1923 and it was a big hit, first in the U.S. then in England. You can listen to a very early version via YouTube. Charles sent me this different version where the vocalist makes up his own melody in the chorus. (Warning: Pace yourself! There are a lot more listening links coming along soon.)

I looked online for even more songs about this city where I've lived for a dozen years. What I found was a book called The Golden Ear, A Treasury of Songs to Pasadena by Carter Barber. You can read the L.A. Times review. (Same available via Google Cache, here.)

I purchased a copy through some unsuspecting online bookseller. Here's a composite of the front and back covers. (Click to enlarge.)

The Golden Ear, a Treasury of Songs to Pasadena California by Carter Barber - cover shot
Self-published in 1985, it seems to be from the "who said what to whom" school of journalism. Largely it details a whole host of mostly unknown songs about Pasadena, the effort to pick a City Song for the centennial celebration in 1986 and the politics and petty squabbles surrounding their inevitable obscurity. The book has the lyrics for 38 Pasadena songs, although Maywood's and John Paul Young's are not included.

Whether Pasadena has an official song at the moment, whether anyone knows what it is and whether anyone cares about a Pasadena song are all whethers about which I don't much care.

Here's Ian Whitcomb, an actual Pasadena resident, singing Home in Pasadena. Since the sheet music is printed in The Golden Ear I was able to determine this is the definitive online performance.

Here's Van Dyke Parks singing Home In Pasadena - with spirit if not with much precision.

Here's Jan and Dean singing Little Old Lady From Pasadena.

Here's a five-year old Bulgarian girl singing and dancing to Maywood's Pasadena.

Here's an over-the-top music video of Maywood's Passadena in some other language.

Here's a song called (Let's Move to) Pasadena by the band Modern Skirts.

Pasadena is more than just the name of a song. It can be the name of a band as well.

In England they have The Pasadena Roof Orchestra apparently named for Home in Pasadena. (Here's their Wikipedia page.) This video is Puttin' on the Ritz. (Dig the patina on that tenor sax.)

Here's a band called Pasadena singing their song Realize. (Strangely, they think Pasadena is somewhere in Maryland.)

Here's a band The Pasadenas singing Riders on a Train.

Yeah, that marks the end of this topic.

Tired of Pasadena Song Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Anonymous said...

Any songs about Eagle Rock? (your third reader)

David Ocker said...

A quick YouTube search revealed that there is an Engle Rock Music Festival (somewhere, I didn't check where exactly.)

Also, there's this tune

This is apparently the classic version: with a real live eagle rocking.

Let me know if you find any others.

Jonathan Gradin said...

Here's another, unusual rendition of "Home in Pasadena," which is new and old simultaneously:

It's a recording made about 5 years ago of Jim Riggs at the Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ (itself a relic of the era in which this song was written), accompanying an authentic Ampico Reproducing Piano roll performance of "Home in Pasadena."

The organ, which was marketed as a "Unit Orchestra," augments the performance much as a '20s or '30s band would.

Anonymous said...

So there is a euro band called Maywood who sang Pasadena & coincidently John Paul Young who sang Pasadena is known as Maywood in the US?

David Ocker said...

Hey Anonymous ... read carefully and slowly. I'll highlight the important word you missed:

JPY is AS well known in the United States as Maywood.

In other words, neither is well known here. I suspect neither is known at all.

Eddi Reader said...

please can you help.. I have a tape.. CASSETTE tape of my deceased relative in Dublin singing PASADENA ROSE... around about

Pasadena Rose for you Im Pining
While the silvery stars above are shining
I can see the Garden where I found you
with the Poppies blooming all around you
Ever in my dreams Im praying
for the sweetest flower that grows
down in Pasadena in the moonlight
she's my pasadena rose.

any clues?

David Ocker said...

Hi Eddi - I looked through my copy of The Golden Ear, the book about Pasadena-themed songs by Carter Barber. There's a chapter devoted to nothing but lyrics. Although "Roses" and "Pasadena" are often combined, none of those lyrics are even remotely similar to the ones you posted. Sorry that I couldn't be of more help.