I am a California boy to the bone. Though my native roots are just accidents of birth, I still say it with pride. I identify with the golden state. To loosely quote one of my favorite children’s books (The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater), “My home is me and I am it. My home is where I like to be, and it looks like all my dreams.”
California and dreams go hand in hand. Perhaps more than anywhere else in the west, it’s a place where people have traditionally come while wearing their dreams on their sleeves.
From big dreams like being discovered on Hollywood and Vine, to little dreams like buying a little farm where you can pet the rabbits, California’s made room for them all. Historically, the original dream magnet centered upon staking your claim, striking it rich, and filling your pockets with gold. The stuff was just lying there in the bottom of the stream. You’d be crazy not to go get it.
The main character in Take Me Back Delila is lucky to have come out the other side of that dream. He’s on his way home with seemingly nothing to show for his efforts. Of course that was true for the vast majority of 49ers. But more importantly, he’s smartened up considerably. He’s on his way back to something more precious than gold. Now he knows that “Money can’t buy ya love”. Good for him!
Despite the reality of the gold rush, I grew up with a deep love of the fantasy. It’s still the bulk of the focus of California history in fourth grade. When we studied the gold rush, we got to go to Knott’s Berry Farm, ride the Calico Mine train, pan for gold and eat rock candy and licorice. When I was in high school, Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush was released. (still one of my all time favorite albums.) So one of the first songs I ever wrote was called “The Miner Song”. The romance of the Gold Rush has deep roots in my psyche.
I thought I was done writing about the California Gold Rush, but Delilah snuck up on me. She was trapped in a banjo, waiting to come out. (my Ramsey Chanterelle.) The song also pays homage to another song of the west, Deep in the Heart of Texas. I’m a sucker for the hand claps. Especially these ones!
As I write this, I’m about as far away from my California home as I can get. We’ve spent the last couple of years living a different dream in Singapore. My musical dreams are still cherished, albeit scaled down and somewhat modified. And I daily dream of returning home and playing some new tunes in the golden hills for any ears that will listen. “I’m gonna see the folks I dig, I’m gonna kiss a sunset pig…”