Premiere: “San Francisco” by Zach Gill

Another ode to our city that is chock-full of site-specific references.

Artists have been penning odes to San Francisco for years. Some of the better known paeans include Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” Tony Bennett’s “(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco,” and Eric Burdon and the Animals’ “San Franciscan Nights.”

Now Zach Gill (whom you might recognize from the rock act ALO or Jack Johnson’s band) has added another San Francisco love song to the canon: “San Francisco.”

Off his newly released fifth solo album, Life in the Multiverse, the simple ditty is chock-full of Bay Area references, mentioning “mushroom jazz,” which musician Mark Farina coined here in the ’90s, Elbo Room, and Valencia Street. “The fall of 1998, before the plastic bubble blew,” gets referenced, and there’s even a clever shout-out to one of my personal favorite phrases from Eric Burdon’s 1970 single “Spill The Wine.” In the original, Burdon, who will perform at the upcoming Stern Grove Festival, calls himself “an overfed, long-haired, leaping gnome,” while in Gill’s version, he changes it to “a leaping, long-haired gnome.”

Gill moved to San Francisco at the turn of the century after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, and he lived in the city for about a year before relocating to Marin, where he remained until 2002. Though he’s since moved back to Santa Barbara, Gill says, “No matter where I go, a part of my heart always stays in San Francisco.”

“The city holds a magical place in my mind,” he adds. “I feel like it exists at the intersection of love, intelligence, and art. And I feel like it’s progressive, generous spirit pushes the whole world in a better direction.”

In fact, Gill says he wrote the bulk of the lyrics “one evening as [he] wandered through the Mission.”

There’s no denying the fact that our city is changing, but at least there are people out there who still love and cherish San Francisco and can see the good in it and not just the bad.

Catch Zach Gill on July 26 and 27 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. 

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