Song Of The Week: “Santa Monica” by Everclear

Sometimes your happy place can provide you with a refuge for your mind, or a remembrance of a better time, or possibly a hit song about a city 40 miles outside of Anaheim.

If the maxim is true that you must first suffer greatly in order to create great art, then the universe prepared Art Alexakis extremely well before he formed Everclear in 1992. It’s a depressing list, but let’s run though it . . .

His father left him as a child and the destitute family scraped to get by on the mean streets of Los Angeles. He developed a severe drug addiction which took years to kick and an overdose almost killed him. A girlfriend committed suicide, and in the aftermath he followed with an attempt of his own. After getting clean, he started taking music seriously but could find no interest from anyone in L.A. so he moved to San Francisco, where, in a single month, the fledgling record label he had created foundered, his new band broke up, and his girlfriend revealed she was pregnant. He was almost 30 with a new family to support and no means of doing so.

But wait! Take a sad song and make it better, guys! After years of giving Art the gray skies, the universe was about to send a little sunshine his way.

Moving to his girlfriend’s hometown of Portland, Oregon (okay, so the universe didn’t send literal sunshine), Art placed a want ad and got himself a new band, naming themselves Everclear after the 190 proof grain alcohol, popular with people who don’t enjoy standing up, but do enjoy going blind. They spent a couple of years honing their craft and recording albums for an indie label before signing with Capitol and releasing their platinum-selling major label debut, Sparkle and Fade, in 1995.

The second single from that album, “Santa Monica,” a song about escaping to the seaside town where a young Art once lived (a place he described as a “safe haven”), didn’t enter the Billboard Hot 100 but you wouldn’t have known it at the time from all the radio play it received. Despite scoring bigger hits over the next five years, it’s the band’s only song to reach #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

So leave the fire behind, and swim out past the breakers . . . with Everclear.

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