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Sausalito — A Pilgrimage

On Sunday, February 27, my boyfriend and I happened to be staying in a Radisson in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Just across the street, I could see Alcatraz, a mere 12-minute ferry ride away. And beyond Alcatraz? Sausalito — a place I knew only one thing about.

In 1976, Mick Fleetwood took his band, Fleetwood Mac, to Sausalito to work on the not-yet-titled Rumours album. He had, according to his 1990 memoir, “heard good things about a studio called the Record Plant” (169), which had also been the studio choice of John Lee Hooker, Journey, and the Wailers, among many others. It was there, in Sly Stone’s Pit, that Stevie Nicks sat by herself one day and wrote “Dreams.”

I had to go. I had to go to the place where Stevie wrote “Dreams.” I had to go to the place where she cut “Gold Dust Woman” after eight takes. I had to go to the place where “Silver Springs” was relegated to B-side status. I was going to be right there. I had to walk up to the front door as if I could go in.

First, I found pictures of the building online, so I would know what I was looking for. Then I Google-mapped the address, 2200 Bridgeway, for a sense of context, but got nothing but trees; did that mean it was a bit off the beaten path? Too, I wasn’t sure about distances; I knew, care of a handy tourist map offered by the city of Sausalito, that Bridgeway would be right where we got off the ferry. But would numbers jump quickly, or be spread wide apart? Would it be a 25-minute walk, or a 2-hour drive? And what about all those trees?

When we arrived in Sausalito, we were greeted by a long-haired guy, cradling a guitar and small dog, yapping, “Welcome to Paradise! You made it!” On the main strip, a man held court with a white parrot and small audience, while another, just a few feet away, built rock sculptures on the shore. All three were putting on their best show. A few steps to the left and I would be foot-deep in ocean.

I was anxious to start looking for 2200 Bridgeway. But first things first. In the Winship, we hunkered down inside a booth for chowder and salmon. I wanted to touch the glass that separated our booth from the silent couple on the other side; glass that had a frosted scene of fish swimming, glass that had a small sticker glued on it that said, “Don’t touch.”

After lunch, we walked Bridgeway’s other direction, determined to see if we could make the distance to 2200. Within a block or two we noted that the numbers jumped fast, and I got optimistic. We passed a Mexican fish taco stand, a lighthouse coffee shop, a doctor’s office, and houses perched into a hillside.

At a crossroads with Marinship Dr., down a dirt path to the right, was 2000 Bridgeway. It seemed as if Marinship and Bridgeway became the same road, and I knew we were close, that it had to be down this dirt path, what Andy called my “Abbey Road,” and I wanted to run. So, since I can’t run, I lightly jogged, past the European tourists who, with cameras drawn, I was sure were on the same journey as me. Because, just ahead, beyond all the overgrown trees and a parking lot, was 2200.

But the Europeans walked by without so much as giving me a strange look. And so, I waltzed right up to the wood door to admire its carved out impressions of animals playing instruments. I turned the doorknob; I looked in the mailbox. I even rubbed the wooden post as if it were a gold bottle, as if out of the splintered grain a rock n’ roll genie would float out, and, with a raspy wail, grant me three wishes.

I looked around, wondering if Stevie ever hung out in the parking lot just to escape the haze of long days in the studio, or the tumult that working with your ex surely had wrought. I wondered if she had walked the length of Bridgeway as we just had, to go into town to the vintage shop where I saw this lush red coat hanging in a doorway.

I wondered if she had seen some of the same sights.

Too, I wondered what it was like inside; Fleetwood writes, “the studio itself proved to be a bizarre place to work. … Sly Stone’s Pit…was a sunken lounge, heavily carpeted in thick, revolting, bordello-like burgundy shag….” (171). How I wanted to see the very spot where the lines, “Listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness like a heartbeat drives you mad… In the stillness of remembering what you had…and what you lost…” were written.

But, of course, I couldn’t go in.

2200 Bridgeway, aka, The Plant, is, now, just an abandoned building with a fading white address and a For Sale sign tacked to its wood shingles. No longer operational, no longer legendary. Nobody seems to want to save it, or renovate it, or buy it. There it sits, unremarkable, just as it did in 1976, surrounded by other workplaces, and just off to the left, a marina. Despite its lonely stand, it was, for me, a small paradise, a small monument to a rock n’ roll past. Indeed, whatever energy was here, thirty-five years ago, that I had come to feel, had long since dissipated into the bay air. But it was still kind of cool to stand at the door and imagine.

Works Cited:

Fleetwood, Mick (with Stephen Davis). Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac. NY: Avon, 1990.

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6 thoughts on “Sausalito — A Pilgrimage

  1. Loved reading this piece, and we were delighted to read in the comments that you liked our page about The Record Plant. The late Dave Richards, who also did the interior of The Trident restaurant here in Sausalito and painted Janis Joplin’s Porsche, did the woodwork and inlays in the front door that you admired. Best wishes from Sausalito.

    • Thank you so much for writing. I am so glad you liked the piece. My boyfriend and I constantly reminisce about Sausalito and how beautiful it is. One day I hope to come back and spend more time. 🙂

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