Thousands of songs have been set in Los Angeles over the decades, and the most famous among them have become anthems: Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang,” the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” and Thee Midniters’ “Whittier Blvd.” among them.
Lesser known is the gem “Hollywood Hopeful” by the singer-songwriter-actor Loudon Wainwright III, which has just been given a new animated video that the Times is premiering here.
Originally released in 1975, the song is part of Wainwright’s new oddballs-and-outtakes collection “Years in the Making.” The set gathers work from across Wainwright’s four-plus decades as a professional entertainer.
“I am a full fledged, grown-up adult/I'm trying make a dent, trying to get a result,” Wainwright sings to open the autobiographical song. “I'm holed up in a Hollywood hotel suite/Tequila to drink and avocado to eat.”
That hotel suite was in the Chateau Marmont, Wainwright said during a recent conversation in advance of “Years in the Making.” He came upon an outtake of “Hollywood Hopeful,” which was originally released on his fifth album, “Unrequited,” while he was digging in his crates.
“I’m going to be 72 in September,” Wainwright said. “So I’m kind of cleaning things up and going through stuff downstairs and trying to get rid of ... and thinking about what’s happened and what’s next.”
Wainwright explained that as he was running through hard drives, cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes and bootleg recordings that fans had sent him, he started thinking about gathering the best of them: “I felt like there was something there that could be of a piece. It took about three years to assemble it all and actually do it.”
The new video for “Hollywood Hopeful” was directed and animated by C. Lily Ericsson with characters drawn by Ed Steed, whose work Father John Misty fans might recognize from the “Pure Comedy” album cover. The clip draws its images from Wainwright’s song — avocado and tequila and hotel suite included — to capture the lyrics’ essence.
“Years in the Making” comes out Friday.