San Bernardino


 Heretic Pride




the Mountain Goats



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San Bernardino is the second song on the album Heretic Pride.

Press Kit notes[edit | edit source]

San Bernardino

This is a song about a young unmarried couple giving birth in a cheap motel off the 10 freeway out towards the high desert in California. I wrote it on guitar, sent it to Eric Friedlander for arrangement and this is what he did with it. Is it too self-serving to say how much I love what Eric does here? I hope not. He plays everything on this track, I just sing and listen, hopefully in equal measures.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

We got in your car and we hit the highway
Eastern sun was rising over the mountains
Yellow and blood red bits 
Like a kaleidoscope 

And flaming swords may guard the garden of Eden
But we consulted maps from earlier days 
Dead languages on our tongues
Holding on to our last hope

And the day was bright and fine
And the highway sign said, "San Bernardino welcomes you"

I checked us into our hotel and filled the bathtub 
And you got in the warm warm water 
I pulled petals from my pocket
I loved you so much just then

And it was hard but you were brave, you are splendid
And we will never be alone in this world 
No matter what they say
We're gonna be okay

We were safe inside
and our new son cried, "San Bernardino welcomes you"

Comments by John Darnielle About this Song[edit | edit source]

  • "This is a song about a couple having a baby in a hotel room at the freeway near where I grew up. It's not at this one hotel, but there's a hotel out Route 66 in California called the Wigwam. It's wigwams. You see it when you're a teenager and you think, 'Man, someday I'm going to stay there and it's going to be hilarious.' And then you get old enough to stay in hotels and, 'I'm never going to stay at the Wigwam. That's not cool.' So I thought of that hotel when I wrote this song, but I should like to tell you it's not at the Wigwam, it's down the road a little ways from there. 'Cause what's good in this story would be less good if the baby had to be born at the Wigwam." -- 2009-03-20 - Attucks Theatre - Norfolk, VA
  • "Here, however, the story is pretty clear, or I hope it is, and the song gave me a pretty good punch in the face as soon as we were done recording it, because I just lost my mind for about five minutes. Gone. Slumped over a piano a few feet from the microphone I'd been singing into, Erik Friedlander sitting in his chair where he'd been playing. (I did my vocal live with one of the cello parts, sitting facing Erik as he played.) I was thinking again about people who others talk down to: young mothers and fathers who have no prospects, no money, nothing going on. The two kids here give birth in a cheap motel somewhere in San Bernardino, probably right off the freeway, and the young man tries to express his love for the girl who's about to give birth. Which she does, and they feel at home in the world, even though the world isn't giving them its best yet. I feel hope for them, because they love each other. I know that that is a corny thing to say, so for people who have corn allergies I apologize. But these two, they're going to be the future, so it'd be awesome if we could give them enough leeway to become who they're gonna become, and encourage them when we can. I have a fondness for them though I barely know them. Their feeling for one another inspires me, is what it is." -- "My Five Favorite Mountain Goats Characters" -- eMusic article
  • "This song takes place in the Wigwam Motel." -- 2014-06-17 - Mayan Theatre - Los Angeles, CA

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