Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1567 Blue Jay Way, Los Angeles, CA 90069

The Story: In August 1967, George Harrison and his wife Pattie were visiting America, and the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein put them up in a house high in the Hollywood hills' "bird streets." They were waiting for the Beatles' publicist, Derek Taylor, to arrive at the house, and, as Harrison puts it, Derek "rang to say he'd be late. I told him on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way. And he said he could find it OK...he could always ask a cop." Harrison was tired from his flight so he "waited and waited...There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake...I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this house which I hadn't noticed until I messed around on it and the song came." The song he's talking about ended up being "Blue Jay Way," the spacey, dreamy track on the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour album.

The Message: The meaning behind the song's lyrics are rather straightforward. From the opening line, you get the sense of what Harrison was going through, and the story's Los Angeles connection. Fog can trap your mind in LA, and give you a false (although, sometimes true) sense of isolation. Harrison wanted to sleep, but was waiting for his late friends. The fog, mixed with the jet-lag, are lulling him to fall asleep, and you get that sense from the lyrics and cloudy organ part. Harrison shows some frustration about Taylor's tardiness, because he's not accustomed to the schedule LA works on. It's common to be late, so it's not rude or inconsiderate. It simply means you hit traffic, had car troubles, or got lost in confusing, hilly streets.

The Activity: The best way to approach the house is from the west. Take Sunset Boulevard from the 405, headed towards Hollywood. Drive about 5 1/2 miles, past the grandeur of some of Hollywood's elite mansion addresses. Turn left onto N Doheny Dr, heading uphill. Here is where you start the song. Clocking in at about 4 minutes, it should bring you right to the front door (or lost somewhere in the hills). After a half mile, take a right onto Oriole Dr (beginning of the "bird streets"). Make a left onto Thrasher, then the 2nd left onto Blue Jay Way, just as Harrison starts pleading, "please don't be long." If it's a clear day, you get a nice view of Beverly Hills and Hollywood. On a smoggy or foggy day, as Harrison experienced, you feel alone, unable to even see your neighbor's house. The house itself is unremarkable (from the street), but the song is about the journey, not the building. Put your car in neutral and glide down out of the hills, careful to avoid dead ends and backwards streets. Do all this without a GPS, and you might feel like you're in 1967. If you get lost, don't be afraid to "ask a policeman on the way."


S. Martelli

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