|Painting by Maynard Dixon.|
Lucky me, I didn't have to come west. I was already here.
As children about three years old, both of my parents moved to Southern California with their families, my father from Illinois, my mother from Michigan. Both families chose the midwestern sensibility of Pasadena, though my father, uncle and grandparents eventually settled on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley. My best guess is that it more nearly matched the life my grandfather knew. My parents met during World War II while attending the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, Mother working toward her BFA, Father there as part of his Navy Officer Candidate School. My brother, sister and I were all born in Pasadena.
Until I heard Lucinda Williams sing this, I'd forgotten than my former and late husband, growing up in South Africa with western dreams fueled by his Yankee father and Hollywood depictions, was determined to reach California. Newspaper work knows no geographical limits and he believed there would always be employment wherever he landed. After reporting jobs in Virginia and New Jersey, after Army service at Ft. Knox, after the Associated Press, he claimed the West as home. Though Lucinda's West is not California, it is close enough in spirit and allure. I think it's a swell song.