We're going back in time, to the quasi-halcyonic regions of my youth.
It's after midnight on a warm, balmy summer night in Southern California - where a gentle breath of moisture has drifted in from the ocean and apathetic palm trees glisten in moon-glided droplets of dew.
The little piano bar on Fairfax in West Hollywood is a yawning haven for restless night owls, who languish over drinks in a smokey room drenched in soft amber light and the anonymous shadows of dreams and possibilities...
....and I - accompanied by occasional cigarettes and a generous glass of Sangria - sit at the piano and let my fingers wander through melancholy melodies and unintended improvisations.
One of my favorite songs of my youthful piano bar repertoire was Lalena (pronounced la-lane-ya).
It was written and originally performed by Donovan (Donovan Philips Leitch) in 1968. There were numerous subsequent versions, including popular ones by Deep Purple and Jane Olivor. In my opinion, Olivor's version is superb - by far the best - no one can surpass it.
I had always wondered about the origin of Lalena and what Donovan's intention was in writing it. I only recently found out.
The song was initially inspired by the German actress/singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). Donovan was especially intrigued when he saw the 1931 film The Threepenny Opera - in which Lotte Lenya plays the role of a prostitute named Jenny Diver.
The name Lalena is derived from Lotte Lenya's name , and is (in Donovan's words) "a composite character of women who are outcasts on the edge of society: Bohemia".
I'm including a recording of my piano arrangement of Lalena, just as I used to play it long ago.
Also, here's a "video" of Jane Olivor singing Lalena (this isn't my video - I got it from YouTube).