Here I am, sitting inside of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, waiting for my flight to start boarding. I’m wearing black, which means I’m flying west. I’m headed to Las Vegas via Los Angeles. A few days back on the Left Coast for me. And in my typical fashion, I jumpstart any visit to California the same way—with a specific music track. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Marlena Shaw’s “California Soul”.
How I first came across this moment? I discovered the track on May 30, 2003. I was in Regal Cinemas Wildwood 14 with Valorie Drew watching The Italian Job. It was the scene where Charlie (Mark Wahlberg) introduces Stella (Charlize Theron) to the rest of the team from the Venice heist. After the introduction, the song played as the scene transitioned from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, it didn’t mean much to me. It was just another track in film score. It didn’t really take off with me until I was living in Tokyo a few years later, when the Bodacious Brit and I made that weekend trip to Los Angeles. It really became a big thing for me during the Long Hot Summer of 2011, when I set getting to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport as a major goal in navigating through the drama of that time period. Of course, there was its prominent feature in The Lincoln Lawyer. It grew on me.
What it means to me now? Today, it’s my official theme song for when I find myself in the Golden State. It speaks more to the laid back feel I experience when I’m in California…far more than Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication”. I play it just before I take off on a flight that lands in California and again while I’m walking from the flight gate to baggage claim.