The story of Lonesome Hills is fiction, grounded in reality. I’ve never been that guy lost in his lonesomeness who can’t find his way home. I would hate that. That’s the fiction part. The real part is that this song is inspired by the hills I call home, a place that I dearly love and will always be able to find. My Lonesome Hills are the hills of Marin County, California.
I grew up in the suburbs of L.A, that flat concrete expanse where the only things that separate one town from another are man-made signs and boulevards. For me, the closest thing to the natural world was a vacant lot. There are some wonderful hilly areas around L.A., The Whittier Hills were nearby, Topanga Canyon wasn’t far away. But we never went to any of those places. We were provincial suburbanites. My parents would occasionally take us to Newport Beach, and they took us to the San Gabriel Mountains a couple of times that I can’t remember, but that was it. Except…once (and sometimes twice) a year, we would drive to my grandparent’s house just north of San Francisco, to San Anselmo. It was surrounded by those golden hills (green as Ireland on the rare springtime visit), streams to play in, a more natural world to explore. It’s where I got my Huck Finn on.
I loved it so much that I moved there soon after high school, and that area’s been my home ever since. Walking and hiking are just about the only form of exercise that I love unconditionally, and for me, walking those lonesome hills are pure paradise. Most often I walk there alone. The solitude is the best possible form of lonesome. When I go for a long walk there, my mind takes a walk of it’s own. A lot of songs have been worked out along those trails.
I feel particularly suited to these hills because they’re so mild, often referred to as “gently rolling”. You never get caught in a blizzard, just a friendly downpour. You seldom need more than a light jacket. There’s the occasional rattlesnake to watch out for, and poison oak is a nasty beast. But the coyotes and bobcats pretty much leave you alone, and the scorpions are generally no worse than bee stings.
And the best part about these hills is that they are so close to the Pacific. Even when you can’t see the ocean, you can feel it in the air. The fast, low flying clouds blow by not far above your heads They hit the tops of giant redwood trees, causing them to drip and sustaining them through droughts. It’s a magical landscape, to be sure.
Sabrina and I are missing our home these days. There are some lovely places to walk here in Singapore, but the tropical heat is a bit too brutal for my taste. I can only take it in short bursts. When we think about going home, walking these hills is the first thing that comes to mind. If you ever come visit us there, it would be our pleasure to show them to you. We’d appreciate your company in our Lonesome Hills.