Rogue Wave is from Oakland. R.E.M. is from Athens, Georgia. Rufus Wainwright was born in New York but grew up in Canada. Del Amitri is from Glasgow, Scotland.
All four of the songs address how California myth differs from the reality. Rogue Wave claims California is “like a holiday tree in the summer;” the opportunity that California provides is not what people dream of, which leaves them with a bitter taste.
The tone and emotions each song evokes are different. Rogue Wave’s “California” feels very restless, the pauses in between the lyrics make me want to leave and find something new. “I Remember California” makes me feel restless too but it has more of a psychedelic vibe to it. In Wainwright’s “California, I feel the disappointment he feels from the overwhelming ridiculousness of L.A. culture—he would rather sleep then be surrounded by the “sea of neon/ thousand surfers, whiffs of Freon” the L.A. oozes. Del Amitri’s “Another Letter Home” is the most entertaining of the four songs. The group seems to understand that California is not what it promises to be: “paradise is only a point of view.” The song is the most brutal on the life in California because it is the most accurate of real life.
Rogue Wave addresses how the dreams the myths promise do not always come true—this could be reflective of the head of band losing his job in the dot-com bust. “I Remember California” reveals that not everything is as it seems and that people need to take off their rose tinted glass because “progress fails pacific sense.” California may be the “end of the continent” but it is not the last hope as myth suggests. Wainwright exposes the superficial life of L.A. and how the society bombards everyone. “Another Letter Home” also exposes the superficial attitude in California, “the bill for the dentist as big as the smile,” but there is a humor and understanding that allows the listener to accept that California is just another place once you get past the sunshine and toothpaste.
Rogue Wave’s “California” speaks to me the most because it expresses the frustration I have with California and makes want to move and do something. I know I will probably never leave California but this song speaks to my need to leave—the simplicity of the music is consuming when I listen.