From time to time during Giants games, CSN Bay Area tends to play "commercials," which are televised advertisements for various products and services. One of the more frequently played commercials is for some kind of car, which drives around California while part of the state song, "I Love You, California," plays. I don't remember what company it's for. BMW? It's probably BMW.
There are several of these commercials, each of which features a different verse of the song. So the natural question arises: Which verse is the best? Let's investigate.
I love you, California, you're the greatest state of all.
I love you in the winter, summer, spring and in the fall.
I love your fertile valleys; your dear mountains I adore.
I love your grand old ocean and I love her rugged shore.
There's a lot to take in here. First, this verse is extremely accurate: California is, in fact, the greatest state of all, with its only real competition being Alaska and Texas. Alaska, however, doesn't have major league baseball, and Texas is full of Texans, so California wins. And the rest of the statements here are both factual and understandable: the valleys are fertile, the ocean is grand, the shore is rugged, and these are all things that are easy to love. Slight demerits for calling the mountains "dear" – Mt Shasta would rip your arms off for sport if it could and don't you ever forget it – but on the whole, a very strong start. I'd be proud to drive a Volvo across that state.
I love your red-wood forests - love your fields of yellow grain.
I love your summer breezes and I love your winter rain.
I love you, land of flowers; land of honey, fruit and wine.
I love you, California; you have won this heart of mine.
In a lot of years, this would be an easy pick for best verse. Redwood forests are great, grain is great, flowers are great, honey is great, fruit is great, and the word on the street is that many people enjoy wine. But let's be honest: the line about the winter rain is a cruel, cruel dig at a state that's in the middle of a historic drought. It just seems unnecessarily mean-spirited to keep harping on the natural disaster that's currently costing California . . . well, stress, mostly, and lawns that aren't as nice as we'd prefer. Still, that's not nothing, and it detracts from the song to remind us of how thirsty you'd be while road tripping in your new Renault.
I love your old gray Missions - love your vineyards stretching far.
I love you, California, with your Golden Gate ajar.
I love your purple sun-sets, love your skies of azure blue.
I love you, California; I just can't help loving you.
Is the Golden Gate really ajar? To me, the word ajar implies that you have to open it wider to actually get through, and unless you're talking about a mile-and-a-half wide kraken, I don't think that applies to anyone. Furthermore, are the Missions really gray? They seem to be more of a cream color to me. And also, I don't see a lot of purple sunsets around here. Fiery red and orange, with hints of green sometimes? Sure, and those are delightful displays. But purple? Not often. This is a very disappointing verse, and I expect better. That the California state song includes dreck like this is simply shameful, and I, for one, would go out of my way to not buy the Saturn that it's being used to sell.
I love you, Catalina, you are very dear to me.
I love you, Tamalpais, and I love Yosemite.
I love you, Land of Sunshine, half your beauties are untold.
I loved you in my childhood, and I'll love you when I'm old
I don't want to say it cancels out the deep pull of Mount Tam, or the medium pull of Catalina, but Yosemite is too much a titan to be reduced to half a line in the last verse. And I'm torn on the "half your beauties are untold" line, which on the one hand is true, and it would take a 14-hour song to recount them all, but on the other hand is a little lazy. What, you're too good to mention Mt Whitney by name, or Shasta and Lassen, or Lake Tahoe? Come on.
The way I see it, the proper ranking is probably 1,4,2,3, but maybe I'm being unfair here. Maybe I'm expecting too much. It's just that, dang it, if you're going to use a song about my home state to sell me cars, it should be better. It should impress me more. And in the end, I just can't see how any of these ads justify my purchase of a new Big Wheels.