Now it's past my bed, I know
And I'd really like to go
Soon will be the break of day
Sitting here in Blue Jay Way
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Blue Jay Way Street road sign
How did you think songs get written? Does the songwriter perch on his stool before his desk, fluffy feather quill in hand, beads of sweat dripping from his brow, until a light shines down from the heavens and a flock of cherubs descends and crowns the artist with his muse?
Well, Blue Jay Way
was written by George Harrison, who was sitting in his house at night waiting for his friend, who was lost. He was bored, he was sleepy, he wanted to stay awake until his friend arrived, so he plonked around with a Hammond organ which he just happened to find
, and he wrote a song.
Imagine if we were all this creative. You could write a song about waiting in line at Starbucks: Come on, damn yuppie, order your latte!
We haven't got all the damn day
You're too busy yapping on your cell phone
I can hear you have nothing to say
You could pick any minute of the day and put it to music and turn all that downtime into cash, cash
, CASH! And haven't we seen that the more mundane a subject is, the more popular the song is?
Anyway, Blue Jay Way is a real, actual street in West Hollywood, and if you look it up on a map, its one of the streets lost in the middle of a maze of winding, twisty roads snaking around the Hollywood Hills. The map looks like somebody threw a handful of spaghetti at the wall. Who wouldn't get lost in that? You could lose a minotaur in there! Let alone with the fog.
Hollywood Hills seen from the hill on Normandie Avenue
To see the place today, it isn't really as impressive as you'd imagine to be the kind of place that a Beatle would be hanging out. It's just California-style crackerboxes all scattered around nose-to-butt with no place left to park and with smog so thick you could hang your coat in it. That's one of the things about Southern California is that there's never any sense of urban planning; streets simply appear and wander off like an ant leaving a trail, and the other ants follow because, why not? Sixty years later, they wonder why there's traffic. Anyway, since California real estate has taken such a hit from the housing crash, it could be the case that some Beatles fan could end up owning the place for chump change.
The song itself is one of the moodiest, spookiest pieces the Beatles ever did. It has been compared to Pink Floyd. George the Mystic really lays on the psychedelic here. There's a drone bass, a raga harmony, flanging, and mixing with stereo and mono just a flicker out of step with each other. This produces a muddy, weary sound, as if the whole song were melting off the air and dripping down the walls. Light some incense and say your mantras.
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