For 30 years, a heartfelt chorus has rung out every Thursday night from Fletcher Cove Community Center and down over the bluffs, to be washed out by the gently crashing Pacific.
That weekly singalong has two mainstays: the song “Solana Beach, Our City Proud” and Ed Siegel, the psychiatrist and self-taught musician determined not to waver from his three-decade mission of filling Solana Beach with joyous song.
Seated at an upright piano on June 29, he looked across the room to see faces familiar as well as new among the two dozen revelers who joined him in verse for the annual patriotic singalong. The chorus has swelled and ebbed over the years, but has always held true.
“The people that come, it’s become like a little family of its own in a way,” Siegel would say later.
Over the evening’s 90 minutes, he led them through short renditions of ditties etched generations ago into the nation’s consciousness: My Country Tis of Thee, Battle Hymn of the Republic, the Marines’ Hymn and Wild Blue Yonder.
Spotted among the singing faithful: Dave Roberts, the former city councilman and county supervisor, who was making one of the many stops on his farewell tour before moving to Connecticut to take care of family.
After belting out a few tunes, he chimed in with a few departing words.
“This is what makes community. It’s just such a treasure,” he said, before offering the group encouragement and assurance. “We’re going to come back here, so don’t worry. Our roots are here in Solana Beach. Truly, continue this tradition. Every time that I’m back visiting, I’m going to pop back in on you all.”
It’s been nearly 20 years since Lynn Salsberg strolled past the singalong for the first time. She added her voice to the chorus that night in 1989, and another night, and so many others, before long becoming one of the group’s regulars. A dozen years later, Siegel told her he’d been asked to whip up a tune to capture Solana Beach’s character. Her home town in Canada had a song, so why shouldn’t Solana Beach? So she put to paper some words to invoke images essential to Solana Beach: the train station, the revitalization of Cedros Avenue, the 101.
She sang them to Siegel, who conjured up the music to go with it, and the duo tweaked their tune for several years until the time came to play it in the community. The fateful performance came when they played it for Skyline Elementary School’s music teacher, who loved it so much that they recorded a version sung by the students.
The city council adopted it as Solana Beach’s official song in 2006, and the first verse can be heard on the city’s website.
Siegel drummed up some national attention a dozen years ago for his quest to have the National Anthem changed from the hard-to-sing key of B flat to a more masses-friendly key of G.
That campaign landed flat. And when “Our City Proud” became the city song, his attention turned to expanding the song to broader audiences — even if it rubs people occasionally the wrong way.
Given his dithers, the song would be sung at Concerts at the Cove, during little league games —anywhere and anytime civic pride is at the fore.
“It could even play on the city’s website before city council meetings, instead of that boring background music,” he said. “It would be so much fun.”
Or even just more than the first verse on the city’s website, Salsberg said.
“We’d love for every kid to be able to grow up with the feeling of the city and what’s here,” she said.