Adele? Singing about Modesto? Acclaimed artist mentions Valley city on newest album

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  • Adele
    Adele
    English singer and songwriter

Sorry, Sacramento. Forget it, Fresno. No way, San Jose.

Modesto is the city on Adele’s lips this holiday season. Yes, that Adele. Yes, really.

The Grammy-winning British singer mentions Modesto — our Modesto — in a bonus track on her new, highly acclaimed album, “30.” The superstar includes our Central Valley city in the lyrics to “Wild Wild West,” the first of the three bonus tracks on the album’s deluxe edition available exclusively at Target.

The upbeat number is about her move from London to Los Angeles. The chorus name-drops a handful of other California cities, including San Francisco and San Diego. Also included are Southern California’s San Bernadino and Chula Vista.

Adele repeats the chorus three times, which goes: “From LA to San Francisco / I lost my mind in San Bernardino / Even Chula Vista and Modesto / I broke my heart in San Diego”

The new album “30” from Adele features a bonus track that mentions Modesto, Calif.
The new album “30” from Adele features a bonus track that mentions Modesto, Calif.

It is, no doubt, the most beautiful pronunciation of “Modesto” ever recorded, because it’s Adele. Duh.

Still the shout-out to Modesto in the chorus has raised eyebrows and cheers among Valley residents, and Adele fans everywhere. The singer never has been booked to perform at any of the region’s major performance venues, including Modesto’s Gallo Center for the Arts.

And in her recent interview with Oprah, she somehow failed to mention the reason she included Modesto.

Adele gives an exclusive Oprah interview for the broadcast special “Adele One Night Only” which aired Nov. 14, 2021 on CBS.
Adele gives an exclusive Oprah interview for the broadcast special “Adele One Night Only” which aired Nov. 14, 2021 on CBS.

Honestly, despite her use of Modesto in the song’s chorus, there’s no way of knowing why she picked us. But before you think she’d never step foot here, I have it on good authority she played a small radio event at a downtown Modesto restaurant a little before her career went supernova.

Perhaps she remembers that show. Most likely, “Modesto” just rhymed.

If that’s the case, I’m glad Sacramento has too many syllables.

Twitter, of course, had its own thoughts about Modesto’s Adele moment. A tweet sharing the “Wild Wild West” chorus lyrics went viral, amassing about 30,000 likes and retweets, along with the post “Adele was out here in cali going THRU it.”

Other suggestions on the social media platform range from Modesto making Adele lose her mind to someone in the city breaking her heart. Others threw some shade on fellow Central Valley cities including Fresno and Turlock.

Now, believe it or not, Adele is not the first artist to reference Modesto. One of the first major pop-culture shout-outs to Modesto dates back to 1963 in the comedy caper “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which featured a truck driver played by Jonathan Winters who drove the “Modesto-to-Yuma run.” That was followed in the late ’60s by the Barbara Stanwyck Western series “The Big Valley,” which was set in the Modesto/Stockton area.

Then, of course, there’s George Lucas’s seminal pre-”Star Wars” feature, “American Graffiti” from 1973, which is based on his youth cruising Modesto streets. It never actually mentions the city’s name, though.

Not just Adele: Pop culture references to Modesto abound in TV, film over the years

Modesto got another oblique shout-out from Courtney Love’s band Hole, which used a black-and-white photo of the Modesto arch in liner notes for its 1998 album, “Celebrity Skin.”

Other singers also have found inspiration, or something else, in our city. Beck had a song titled “Modesto” on his 1994 album, “Stereopathetic Soulmanure,” and indie rockers The Hold Steady released a song called “Modesto Is Not That Sweet” in 2004. In 2008, Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla had a song, “St. Modesto,” that mentioned the Valley and Altamont.

And in 2017, rapper Macklemore actually came to Modesto, where his grandmother lives, and recorded a music video with her for his song “Glorious” in and around the city.

So, really, Adele is just adding to the at times illustrious and other times less so history of Modesto’s pop culture prowess.

And now, forever more, we’ll also have Adele singing our name.

The Grammy-winning recording artist Adelle mentions Modesto in a bonus track on her new highly acclaimed album “30”.
The Grammy-winning recording artist Adelle mentions Modesto in a bonus track on her new highly acclaimed album “30”.