He spent all night
Staring down at the lights of LA
Wondering if he could ever go home
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Famous Hollywood sign (thanks, Oreos)
Movie Biz City!
Whichever nickname you prefer to go with, the glitz and glamour of the quintessential Los Angeles neighborhood has inspired generations of dreamers to seek out their fame and fortune in the golden hills. From across the country and all over the globe actors, writers, musicians, and filmmakers arrive in droves, frequent the West Coast beaches, and cram themselves into tiny, one-bedroom apartments just for the slim possibility of breaking into show biz (this writer is no exception).
Stars on Hollywood Boulevard
Originally meant as a housing development called Hollywoodland, the area quickly rose to prominence after the advent of the moving picture camera. Due to the pristine weather conditions, most major studios had relocated to California (from New York and other parts of the East Coast) by 1912 and the entire industry set up shop within the next couple of decades. The addition of freeways in the '50s aided in the development of both Hollywood as well as the rest of Los Angeles. Producers, agents, and executives loved their ability to shoot 360 days a year with little regard to rain, snow, sleet, hail, or any other elements (earthquakes aside).
Such a large percentage of television shows and films are shot in Los Angeles that if you’ve never even visited or lived in the city, you’ll most likely recognize the skyline and dozens of hotspots and popular tourist attractions. Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now known as TCL Chinese Theatre), Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Bowl, Runyon Canyon Park, Mel’s Drive In, the Sunset Strip, and the Hollywood sign see millions of tourists in person during any given month (and hundreds of millions through their TV and theater screens!).
Hollywood Boulevard at sunset
Interestingly enough, Hollywood isn’t the only neighborhood to hold the moniker. Adjacent to the downtown area are four others: North Hollywood (NoHo), West Hollywood (WeHo), East Hollywood (this has no nickname), and the Hollywood Hills (the Hills). From far away the region appears gilded – full of golden sparkle. However, once you allow yourself the opportunity to get up close and personal, you’ll see the cracking and crumbling façade all around you. Just like the tinsel hung on Christmas trees glitters like real gold from across the room, upon closer inspection you can see it’s nothing more than painted, flimsy foil strips.
When Detroit-born Bob Seger toured the various Hollywoods, it wasn’t difficult for him to conceive the idea for the story that would become one of his most famous tracks: "Hollywood Nights." The song tells the story of a Midwestern boy who comes to Los Angeles to make himself famous, but along the way he meets a beautiful, California girl who derails his goals, setting him off on a downward spiral. What remains unclear by the end of the tune is whether or not the boy escapes L.A. His fling abandons him in the middle of the night and he wakes up alone, “wondering if he could ever go home.” California has a way of chewing people up and spitting them out. Thankfully, Bob Seger wasn’t one of them.
~ Justin Novelli
Hollywood Nights Songfacts
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