Mark Schier
California, 1990

I have great memories of a trip on the Amtrak Surfliner train travelling from Los Angeles to San Diego with my wife in September 1990.

We paid the extra $5 each for a first class ticket, which gave us a seat in the superior car, a copy of the newspaper and bottomless coffee for the trip. These are all the things you expect from Southern California!

We sat on the train and plugged into our portable cassette players with those 1990s chunky headphones. I’m not sure what my wife listened to, but for me there was only one choice – I slotted in the One Of these Nights album and cranked up the volume.

In places we were hurtling down the centre of the freeway (cars and trucks on each side), in other places our tracks ran along sandy beaches supported by short piers, and yet again at the top of sea cliffs with an amazing view. The adobe houses of Del Mar, the acacia trees and the seemingly plentiful cacti along the way further set the mood, until we reached the beautiful Santa Fe station in downtown San Diego.

I think my favourite song on this album is the much underrated Hollywood Waltz, which even now brings back so many memories of that train ride along the coastline. One reason why I like it so much is because it’s written in waltz time and embodies the lifestyle, Spring time and the acacias are blooming, …birds are a singing as I drift away …

It is true that songs written in 3/4 time are much rarer in mainstream music, and this one manages to capture the tension between a somewhat sad feeling, and a bright one at the same time. It’s probably the combination of pedal steel, mandolin, bright electric guitar, cymbal crashes, and those unmistakeable harmonies of the early Eagles.

Nowadays, I can listen to the album, particularly that song, and recall one of my great rail trips in the California sunshine; as … I go down doing the Hollywood Waltz

 

© Mark Schier.

 

Mark Schier is band leader of The Seddon Jammers.