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Will people be crooning 'Laguna'?

Musician, 79, used the voice of a local high school student to create the CD, which is in stock at two locations.

December 17, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Mike McCaffrey, a singer-songwriter, recorded a song about Laguna Beach called "Laguna."
Mike McCaffrey, a singer-songwriter, recorded a song… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

It's a song Mike McCaffrey hopes will help to brand Laguna Beach in popular music, and Friday morning at the edge of a parking lot on Ocean Avenue, it had its first-ever public performance.

With the driver's-side door of McCaffrey's black Ford Explorer open, the composer slipped a CD into the stereo and serenaded the audience — well, one reporter and one photographer — with a bouncy tune that sounded like a relic from the days of Irving Berlin. After an introduction of guitar, ukulele and swishing drums, a honey-smooth female voice began rhapsodizing about the charms of the seaside city: "Laguna, nestled by the sea / is softly calling you and me."

On the phrase "Laguuuuuna," which rises and falls delicately, McCaffrey pantomimed the motion of fingers on a guitar. "That's what I got at the beach," he explained.

The 79-year-old musician, who lives in town, had thought of the hook earlier this year while strumming next to the waves. In recent weeks, he finished the song — titled simply "Laguna" — and set up a recording session that features the voice of Laguna Beach High School junior Marlie Becker.

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McCaffrey himself doesn't appear on the track, though he has more than cut his teeth as a performer: His combo, the Mike McCaffrey Trio, has recorded and played gigs for more than a decade. Still, his name appears as "composer" on the CDs of "Laguna," which he had personally pressed, and if one of them lands in the right hands, well, hello royalties.

For now, McCaffrey plans to give the song out for free. Two locations in town — Hobie Surf Shop and Sound Spectrum Music & Memorabilia — have agreed to stock copies, and he has enlisted a friend to compile a YouTube video, still in the works, featuring the song playing over a series of photos the composer took around Laguna.

Whitney Rose, the manager of Hobie, said she was won over by the song when McCaffrey visited the store and played it for her.

"I think everyone should come down and grab a copy," she said. "He did a really nice job with the song."

Sound Spectrum owner Jim Otto said he would also hand out the song — but only to people who request it or whose tastes appear to lean toward Great American Songbook balladry.

"We'll be selective," he said. "We'll pick people who we think would like it. We'll play it in the store, and people who are interested will get a copy."

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