Art grew up in west L.A. in the projects of Mar Vista, a community just off of Santa Monica and Venice. He fell into drugs and crime and when his family broke up was shuttled between various family members around the country. After a near fatal cocaine overdose, Alexakis gave up drugs cold turkey.
At one point, a young Art had a girlfriend who jumped off of the Santa Monica Pier and killed herself. Depressed, Art tried to to the same thing but visions of his brother changed his mind and he was able to save himself once in the water.
Along with stints in abusive relationships, the suicide attempt inspired Art to write this week's tune, Santa Monica. Lyrics abound about not wanting to continue in the same downward relationship spiral..."I am still living with your ghost, lonely and dreaming of the West Coast," "I don't want to be your fall back crutch anymore," "I don't want to be the bad guy, I don't want to do your sleep walk dance anymore." The suicide attempt is part of the song's chorus, "we can swim out past the breakers, watch the world die."
So what makes this song about suicide and failed relationships a good travel tune? First, the rest of the lyrics talk about how we'd like to get away from the bad times by heading to a new place...the west coast in this version: "I just want to feel some sunshine, I just want to find some place to be alone, " " I just want to see some palm trees, I will try to shake away this disease."
Second, it's a great song with a building strength that starts off with a lone guitar, slowly adding other instruments throughout until you have a very hard rocker in the end. The tune is slightly western and a bit punk, probably influenced by Alexakis' days in the cowpunk movement in San Francisco. It goes with travel very well...makes me want to put on my big black boots and pack an old suitcase and go.
At the bottom is a live version of the song sponsored by Taylor Guitars, who Art endorses with their use. The actual video of the song is very good and a tight mix but the record label does not allow embedding. You can see that video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW6E_TNgCsY&feature=related
Below is the live version from Taylor Guitars. Enjoy!