Song of the Week: “Come a Long Way” by Michelle Shocked

My family moved to Los Angeles when I was five and I left when I was a teenager.  1980’s Los Angeles and I were never a good fit, and I generally dislike songs about L.A.  They too often romanticize a glossiness I can’t stand, even when they are trying to get to the grit of things.  I rarely miss Los Angeles (although there are people there I miss quite a lot) but “Come a Long Way” by Michelle Shocked fills me with a kind of longing I can wallow in for 4:43 minutes (LP version).  Released in 1992, the year I finally left, it’s got everything I remember: the big hair on the Boulevard, earthquakes, the pachyderm, the dying dark.   The music is celebratory, the lyrics are wild, clever, even funny, and in Shocked’s lovely, no-frills voice there is a familiar ambivalence about the city I will never get over.

-Lynn Melnick

Lynn Melnick
’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, including The Awl, A Public Space, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Guernica, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, LIT, and The Paris Review.

Questions, compliments, (hopefully not) complaints? Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

See all Songs of the Week here.

(Photo by Ada Donnelly)