Scott Miller obviously takes inspiration from local streets and geography: Inverness, El Cerrito, Van Ness Avenue, Rayon Drive ... but folks outside of the Bay Area may wonder, what the heck are these places? And where are they? Find out here! Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image. (All photos by Sue Trowbridge.)
Inverness ("Inverness"): "Ohh, Inverness, I bet you've never actually seen a person die of loneliness..." The song on Plants and Birds doesn't really give any clue whether or not Scott's referring to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands or Inverness, Marin County, California. The West Marin village of Inverness (above) is about an hour north of San Francisco, near Point Reyes National Seashore.
China Beach ("Screwed Over By Stylish Introverts"): "If I'd walked out to China Beach I wouldn't think to ask where you would go..." China Beach is the only beach in San Francisco that is considered safe for swimming. Bordered by high coastal bluffs, this secluded urban beach has great views of the nearby Golden Gate Bridge. It's located near an incredibly ritzy neighborhood called Sea Cliff.
El Cerrito ("You Drive"): "All over El Cerrito, hair gets combed in tangles down..." Nowhere near as picturesque as Inverness, El Cerrito is a suburban town in Western Contra Costa County, about 15 miles from San Francisco. If you like strip malls, you'll love El Cerrito. It really doesn't have much to offer besides lots of fast food joints, two BART stations and a Home Depot.
El Camino ("720 Times Happier Than the Unjust Man"): "Twenty miles walking down El Camino..." El Camino Real runs the length of the Peninsula, from Scott's former hometown of San Bruno (which is itself referenced in the song "North San Bruno Dishonor Trip") to Santa Clara in the heart of the Silicon Valley. It's actually quite a bit longer than 20 miles.
Van Ness Avenue ("Slit My Wrists"): "The more alone I felt the more the celebration grew, all the way down Van Ness Avenue..." Van Ness is San Francisco's main drag, part of Highway 101. Lots of important buildings are located on Van Ness, including City Hall, the Opera House and the Herbst Theater.
Hyde Street ("Hyde Street Virgins"): "Hyde Street virgins, rock and roll..." Another prominent San Francisco thoroughfare. Tourists should recognize this one, since the Powell-Hyde cable car route runs along the street, and it ends at Fisherman's Wharf.
Rayon Drive ("Rayon Drive"): This is sort of a tricky one. There is no Rayon Drive, but this Game Theory song's lyrics include references to two real-life Sacramento addresses: "Fair Oaks hot spot between Howe and Watt" and "21st and J, the place is okay."