"I know [Cathy's] work, know her, and know what she likes," says Dalton. "She can convey this feeling to me that I put into music.... She wants to do a whole [feature-length] musical. We can do it."
Dalton has lived in California most of his life, long enough — and far and wide enough — to know that "most people in Northern California have definite opinions about LA, and people in LA are just kind of oblivious." I tell him that a friend of mine once made this observation to me after a stereotypical Mission hipster threw attitude at him upon hearing he was moving back to LA. "That's why LA wins," Dalton agrees with a laugh. "It says, ‘What? You hate us!?’”
The Dying Californian's leader can also break down the individual qualities of the state's major cities — the isolation of Santa Cruz, where most of his friends have moved from, or the quiet darkness of Berkeley, where he lives now with his wife and 16-month-old son. That domesticity and Dalton's new surroundings spurred the recording of a meditative acoustic solo album, Byss and Abyss, released on the fledgling label Sap Moon. "Maybe it has something to do with desperation," he says as we look at Byss and Abyss's cover and insert artwork, which was inspired by a book about alchemy and mysticism. "People can fool themselves into thinking an ordinary object is gold."
Of course, music has an alchemical quality as well, and if it results in fool's gold, at least it's a foolish pleasure. "The best art can seem better than gold," Dalton agrees. "Sometimes I feel like one of these guys who made all the symbols or a tinkerer, but with my four-track." SFBG
THE DYING CALIFORNIAN
With Lady Hawk
and Magnolia Electric Company
Fri/4, 10 p.m.
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF