Video Premiere: Train, “Save Me, San Francisco”

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The video for the fourth single and title track from Train‘s 2009 album Save Me, San Francisco starts with a red herring of a text message:

Before you think too hard about how illogical such a missive would be, remember: it’s just 21st century shorthand for “Here comes a parody of The Graduate!” Or, in other words, the perfect excuse for frontman Patrick Monahan to drive around San Francisco for three-and-change minutes. The band wants to show off their hometown, and who can blame them?

To be fair, it’s hard not to hear the fourth single and title track from Train’s 2009 album Save Me, San Francisco as a victory lap. And, to an extent, the video treats the song as such. But two years ago, before “Hey, Soul Sister” was so popular that even its most ardent haters acknowledged its ubiquity, the band didn’t see it that way. They’d been so shaken by the departure of two founding members in 2005, and the poor performance of For Me, It’s You the year after, that they had gone on hiatus; when they decided to give the band one more go in 2009, they decided to go back to their San Francisco roots.

A cliché, sure, but one that holds true in this case. And while there’s a girl (there’s always a girl in a Train song), she’s more notional than actual; the song is about the city. Which is why the text message is a fake-out, and why the whole video is a riff. Monahan drives Benjamin Braddock‘s car, runs out of gas, and asks directions (from the other two members of Train goofing as arguing fisherman):

But unlike Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, this bride isn’t interested in Monahan in the least.

And why not? She’s gay, of course! Score another point for San Francisco.

The whole video is a silly gag, but buried in that humor is Train’s gratitude. They left their heart in San Francisco, but luckily they were able to go back and find it.