Manual City Lights Stories

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You already knew you wanted to come to Nashville and be a songwriter, an artist.

Greyson Chance - Sunshine & City Lights

Was that your first cut? When I wrote "City Lights" and went in and made a little record of it myself, I sent it back to TNT Records and asked them if they'd be interested in putting it out, and they did. It got to Nashville, and a man named Charlie Lamb heard my record of it. Charlie was running a newspaper called The Country Music Reporter in those days. Can you imagine somebody doing this today?


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He liked it so much and was so impressed, he got in his car and went over to Chet Atkins' office at RCA and said, "I think you need to listen to this song. The Dave Rich record came on the radio, and Ray wasn't all that interested in it to start with. He already had his next single cut. Every time they'd get together on the tee or the green, he'd say "Son, you need to cut that 'City Lights. Well, either way, it was a No. Most of us know "City Lights" from you doing it a million times on television and the "Opry," but great songs never die.

In , it's No. I was quite surprised. I mean, Mickey Gilley would have been one of the last people I would have thought of to record that song, but he did a wonderful version. I'm going to go back one more time to that very night in Commerce, Ga. What city lights were you thinking of? Was it Music City? In the bar moved into the heavily touristed Fisherman's Wharf area, where its gritty dive-bar ambience makes it a welcome morsel of authenticity.

At other moments he has spoken up in moments of crisis. Ferlinghetti wrote a poem that was published two days later in The San Francisco Examiner.

According to Barry Silesky, in his biography of Mr. A few weeks ago, I reached out to Mr. Ferlinghetti, explaining that I was coming out to the city to write about him and about his San Francisco — that is, about the places that have meant something to him. I hoped to pay him a visit, I said, and to glean some thoughts about my itinerary. At 99, Mr. Ferlinghetti is largely blind. He was not, I was told, quite up to receiving visitors. But we had two lively telephone conversations.

Yet when I rang, Mr. Ferlinghetti barked at me. I changed the subject to books and culture. Soon we were getting along like great old friends. William S. Ferlinghetti told me. Burroughs did not visit the city until the s, and after that only passed through on occasion.

Ferlinghetti said. Less than a decade later, the Winterland was demolished to make room for apartment buildings. Other poets also read poems onstage before the concert began, but he was one of the few to appear in the film, he told me, because he spoke into the correct microphone. With no advice from Mr. Walking the city was what Mr. Ferlinghetti, who was born in Yonkers, did when he arrived here on January 5, He never stopped walking, in those early days. You could walk down Sackville Street and see everyone of any importance in one walk.

We stayed in the Hotel Nikko clean, hip, teeny-tiny rooms in Union Square. On our first day in the city, we walked the mile or so to City Lights, moving past, in the light rain, the stately mansions of Nob Hill. Kerouac liked to hang out at City Lights and at Vesuvio Cafe, a famous bar across the street. The Alley is packed with murals and stone-and-metal plaques inscribed with poetry by Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, John Steinbeck and others. This one-time Beat hangout has maintained its old vibe and is still going strong. Ferlinghetti often wrote here.

So did others, including Francis Ford Coppola. In his new book, Mr.

Story Behind the Song: 'City Lights'

We made a beeline for the venerable bar Li Po Cocktail Lounge, named after a hard-living Chinese poet. Li Po was a popular Beat after-hours joint and Anthony Bourdain popped in when he was in town. Inside, Li Po has battered red leather booths and a wraparound bar. These signs, happily, have their own preservation society.

For a late lunch we went to Tadich Grill another long walk in the Financial District. Like Mr.

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It opened as a coffee stand in We ate oysters and the Petrale sole, a Pacific coast fish, both first-rate. City Lights is far from the only bookstore in town. Dog Eared Books is perfectly cluttered, with a mix of new, used and remaindered books. Borderlands is a geek paradise — it specializes in new, used and rare science fiction, horror and fantasy. Then we sidled into the Pirate Supply Store, which is part of Valencia , the educational nonprofit founded in by Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari.

Taking a break from book shopping, we got in line at Swan Oyster Depot, which has been around for more than years. This small joint has 18 seats at its counter. We arrived a half-hour before opening, but the line was already long. We waited an hour and a half for our seats, wondering if we were lemmings. We weren't.

The oysters, the crab backs in butter and their version of crudo, washed down with an Anchor Steam, were good beyond measure. All restaurants should keep their white wine selection so unpretentiously on display, with cluttered bottles placed on ice in a stainless steel pan. Pegasus Books is smaller, but expertly curated.

City Lights Georgetown | Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

The night we were there, the cashier was spinning old jazz records on a turntable. We flew home with heavy luggage. On our final day, we woke late and had an early lunch, at Sam Wo, perhaps the oldest restaurant in Chinatown. Its first iteration was built shortly after the San Francisco earthquake of This, too, was an unpretentious Beat-era hangout; Charles Bukowski, Ginsberg and many others dined here. The restaurant, now on Clay Street, is still unpretentious, but the food eggs with shrimp and duck jook, which is a kind of porridge was fresh and very good. My favorite San Francisco poet these days is August Kleinzahler, who often writes about bellying up to a bar.

But, we asked ourselves, what would Mr. Ferlinghetti do now? Then we walked across. I would like to report that walking across was a Zen activity, one that brought me closer to why so many gifted writers have been drawn to this city. But with traffic roaring past nearby and the cold wind whipping and my latent vertigo threatening to kick in, I was glad to get to the other side.

We had no idea how to get from the far side of the bridge back to our hotel, so we climbed on a tour bus that was idling in a parking lot.