The song “San Fernando Valley,” made famous by Bing Crosby late in War II, has been on my mind since breakfast today (chocolate chip pancakes). A highlight of living alone is you can sing anywhere, not just the shower. The song’s blithe and merry 40s jauntiness is given a whole new subtext both pointed and poignant by that titular farmland’s transformation into suburb and subsequent porn capital. For instance,
I’ll forget my sins (yes yes), I’ll be makin’ new friends (yes yes),
where the West begins (yes yes) and the sunset ends
Cause I’ve decided where yours truly should be
and it’s the San Fernando Valley for me.
Somewhere, some latter-day Wildean soul is delighting in the facile subversion of this very song played over footage of a footloose woman, young and buxom, westward bound in pink halter top and tough jean cut-offs with a jacket over her shoulder, clicking the heels on the very kind of boots Nancy Sinatra claimed were made for walkin’. It’s the kind of wink wink nudge nudge on the simple past we wised-up postmods so enjoy. More fun than reviewing old Scooby episodes for Mary Jane in-jokes.
In my curiosity, I got hold of the radio episode of Autry’s Melody Ranch featuring his rendition of the song. I’ve always wanted, as a nod to the naked geriatric trampoline philosophizing in Ninety Two in the Shade (one of my favorites—not the movie), to score a sex scene with Autry’s genial warbling of his signature “Back in the Saddle Again,” only to have the lady involved call a screeching halt to the proceedings because fucking to this music is just too weird—more ludicrous than naked men in socks. It’s hard to tell, listening to the delivery on Melody Ranch—two cigar store Indians could not give more wooden readings—whether the bland songs are an excuse for the inept Wrigley gum pitches, or vice versa, for the two alternate with leaden regularity. Avis à tous ces littérateurs qui aiment tant proclamer que la condition humaine n’a changé en rien depuis Tolstoy : oh yes it has. Take advertising—please.