A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

Songs About California

(Or that reference something about the state)

This list has grown so large that it has become difficult to scroll through, so I have copied it and made a shorter page without comments or lyrics that is easier to navigate:
Songs About California - Abridged List

observation link

Some of these songs are about the state itself, but most are either about a place in the state like a highway or a city, or the "California Girl" a fictional subspecies of girl. (Beach Boys, 1965.)
This list is a cheap way to shoehorn my interest in music into a natural history web site. Still, instead of just making a random list of songs, I have included songs that I have found worth listening to at least once.

A lot of pop songs have been written about California. Many of them describe a journey to or a longing to return to an coastal paradise with constant sun, abundant new opportunities, and where everyone is eternally young and beautiful - basically a mythical place that bears little resemblance to the real Golden State now or ever. (The Spanish named the territory after a mythical island paradise they were searching for that was supposed to be full of gold and inhabited by black women whose queen was named Califa. That didn't pan out, either.)

Other songs describe the disappointment the singers find after getting to California when they discover that it's no better than where they came from. Apparently, recording a California song is now a requirement if you're a musician, even if it's only to show that you hate California stereotypes or the Entertainment Industry Establishment. Musicians such as Local H and Brooke White are even writing songs about California Songs while other musicians write about how much they hate the state. It's all good, and it's all here on the list if I know about it.

This list is in alphabetical order by artist, not by title. I'll add new songs to the list as I discover them. Let me know if there is something not here that should be. They lyrics come from the Internet, and we all know how unreliable that can be. Also, BEWARE some of these songs may contain explicit lyrics that I don't mention in the descriptions or show in the lyrics. Links to song versions on YouTube or elsewhere are included if I could find them.

Also check out Wickipedia's List of songs about California and List of songs about Los Angeles.

And here's a companion song list I've compiled of Songs About Herps.

The lyrics shown here are all the property and copyright of their owners and are provided here for educational purposes only.

Click on a link to listen to a song.
Shortcut to Artist
Artist Title
Ryan Adams Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd. Alt country indie rock, whatever it is, New Yorker Adams does it very well. Well enough to marry Mandy Moore, I guess. From 2001, this is one of those slow sad piano songs with strings.
"La Cienega Just Smiled" - could be a reference to La Cienega blvd. - is another slow Adam's song from the same album "Gold."

"It's happening baby
They're putting up the chairs
Taking the money
And all we can do is pray
Pray for tomorrow

So close your eyes
So close your mouth
And do this all in time to the music
That screams like a child in the back of your mind
In a clown's saloon

So goodnight Hollywood Blvd, goodnight,
See ya soon
Goodnight Hollywood Blvd, see you sometime
Yeah, right "
Admiral Radley I Heart California A 2010 song from a California Indie rock band made up of members of two influential California Indie rock bands, Earlimart, from LA, and Grandaddy, from Modesto. Long walks on the 5? What, did they break down?

"I am California... yeah?
Ice tea in my hair
Drugs fall out of diaper bags
As midwesterners stare
I am California
Long walks on the 5
Truck stops and the symphony
And I'll be here when I die

I heart California... I love California
I heart California
I heart California... I love California
I heart California"

Gary Allan She's So California "She's a warm summer breeze with bleach blonde hair
Like a fine red wine she can take you there
She's a walk in the sand at sunset
She's the top pulled down on the 405
She'll take you higher than Humboldt sky
She's an earthquake
And you're the fault line
So, when you feel the ground start movin' around
Hold on tight you're in for a ride

'Cause she's so California
She's a wild fire out of control headed for ya
So, when you get burned, don't say I didn't warn ya
'Cause she's so California."

A 2008 country tune.
Dave Alvin California Snow Dave Alvin was one of the Blasters, great 80's roots rockers, who now sings beautiful folksy/country acoustic guitar-based songs. In this 1998 song, Alvin takes on the persona of a Border Patrol Officer who drives at night in San Diego County.

"I'm just tryin' to make a livin'
I'm an old man at thirty-nine
With two kids and an ex-wife
Who moved up to Riverside

I'm workin' down on the border
Drivin' back roads every night
Mountains east of El Cajon
North of the Tecate line.

Where the California summer sun
Will burn right to your soul
But in the winter you can freeze to death
In the California snow. "
Dave Alvin Here In California A nice cover version of the Kate Wolf song discussed below.
Dave Alvin King of California A poor 19th century guy from east of the Ohio river promises his love that he will return and marry her after he makes his fortune in the California gold rush. That didn't work out too well for him, but it probably woudn't have been a great song if it had. This rootsy acoustic song from 1994 beautifully conjures up the era and the spirit of "Go west young man." One of my favorites.

"Well I left my home and my one true love
East of the Ohio River
My father said we'd never wed
For I had me no gold nor silver

But my darling dear, please shed no tears
But I think that it's fair to warn you
That I return to claim your hand
As the King of California"
Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women California's Burning After the death of a member of his backing band, The Guilty Men, Alvin assembled a new band composed of women called The Guilty Women, which adds a nice dimension to his harmonies. This one needs no explanation to those of us who have watched hillsides and homes go up in flames in the fall and mudslides cover what remains the next winter...

"California's burning,
you can smell it in the air.
California's burning,
you can smell it in the air.
You may be rich or poor,
but you know that fire don't care.
… … … … ...
No rain for four years,
and the hills are dry and brown.
Yeah, no rain for four years,
and the hills are dry and brown.
Yeah, well where you gonna run to
when the whole wide world burns down?
… … … … ...
Black clouds are risin'
and they're blockin' out the sun.
Black clouds are risin'
and they're blockin' out the sun.
Some folks are sayin'
the judgement day has come.

California's burning,
no one knows when it will end.
California's burning,
no one knows when this will end.
What that fire burns down boys,
we'll just build it back again."
America California Revisited America is a great and cheezy folk rock band from the '70's made up of Americans who lived in Britain as military dependants and didn't want anyone to think they were Brits before they relocated to LA, hence the name. This is from their 1972 album "Homecoming."

"Heaven may be an answer
If you're lookin' for eden in the sky
On your waters i see a strange reflection
Rumor has it i'll see you when i die

Everyone i meet is from california
There's dancin' in the streets in california

In california you watch the shadow dancer
Floating gently, gently on the sea
In california you're such a strange romancer
Come and see me when the world has set you free

Everyone i meet is from california
There's dancin' in the streets in california
Everyone i meet is from california
There's dancin' in the streets in california."
America Ventura Highway From their 1972 album "Homecoming." An upbeat soft rock classic with a catchy acoustic guitar riff from the band who have been to the desert on a horse with no name. For 30 years I wondered how those lizards got up in the air, but thanks to the imaginatiion-killing-internet I now know that they're only supposed to be cloud formations.This is one of the few songs about both California, and herps. (Or at least clouds that look like herps.)

"Wishin' on a falling star
Watchin' for the early train
Sorry boy, but I've been hit by
Purple rain
Aw, come on Joe, you can always
Change your name
Thanks a lot son, just the same

Ventura Highway
In the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger
Than moonshine
You're gonna go I know

'Cause the free wind is blowin' through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air
in the air "
American Music Club California Dreamin' A very good 1994 indie rock cover (with sitar!) of the 1966 Mamas and Papas classic that you can read about below.
American Music Club Highway 5 A dark slow dirge off "California," a 1988 album from this San Francisco based alternative rock band. Maybe back in 1988 75 was the cruising speed, but 85 is more like it these days, and that's in the slow lane...

"Highway five
Takes so much to make us feel like we're alive
A weary traveler at a smooth seventy-five
Make pretend the landscape ain't so dry
Do anything to maintain a lie

To the left, a beautiful California landscape
Dead ends in the sky
And to the right, beautiful mountains rise
High and dry
Another futile expression of bitterness
Another overwhelming sensation of uselessness

Make pretend that the landscape ain't so dry
Do anything to maintain a lie
Make pretend that the lover ain't so barren
Though in los angeles things like that don't matter"
Augustana California's Burning A 2005 song from a San Diego rock band.

"California's burning, burning, burning to the ground...
and my head is turning, turning, turning round and round...
Allie's stomach's churning, churning, like a storm today...
and your mother's crying, crying, closing up the safe...

and I'm here, wondering where the sun has gone...
driving through to Mexico,
asking why there's no one home...

Encinitas likes to miss me, like nobody's child..
and my eyes like rainy Tuesdays, like to watch you smile...

and I'm here, wondering where the sun has gone...
driving through a Midwest storm,
asking why there's no one home..."
Eef Barzelay Shaker Star Eef Barzelay is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, previously with the noise rock band Clem Snide. This song is from a 2009 album covering songs from the band The Transmissionary Six. It's a solo acoustic guitar number that is not really a California song, but it's such a great song, and it does mention Death Valley, so here it is. Terri Tarantula wrote it and released the song in 2009, but this is one of those rare times where I don't prefer the original version.

"We could be unfettered
This I know for sure
Crystalize everything
Ignition contact with you, with you

Shaker shaker, start the car
Shaker, shaker star
Shaker shaker, start the car
Shaker, shaker star

Let's fall in love with a song
Drums and guitar
Drive around singin' Death Valley Rain
The Beach Boys California Calling One of many of the Beach Boys' California songs, this one is from 1985 during their later incarnations.

"If everybody in the U.S.A
Could come with us to Californ-i-a
We could take 'em to a place out west
Where the good sun shines everyday

Now there's a touch o' Californ-i-a
In everyone who's ever been this way
And when your telephone begins to ring
And the operator comes on the line

California callin'
I'll be there right away
There's some beautiful women
Gonna find me one
To show me how to ride the ultimate wave

Now I've joined the surfin' nation and so
I'll take a permanent vacation and go
To the golden shores of 'Frisco Bay
I'll ride 'em all the way to Malibu

And I'll take ya' boogie boardin' with me
'Cause when we're surfin' it's so great to be free
And when you're on a California beach
You might even find 'em windsurfin' too..."
The Beach Boys California Girls The classic 1965 surf pop song that probably started the regional wars over whose girls look the best - another unnecessary war that can't ever be won....

"Well East coast girls are hip
I really dig those styles they wear
And the Southern girls with the way they talk
They knock me out when I'm down there

The Mid-West farmer's daughters really make you feel alright
And the Northern girls with the way they kiss
They keep their boyfriends warm at night

I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California girls"
The Beach Boys California Saga:
Beaks of Eagles
California Saga: Big Sur
California Saga: California
The Beach Boys were sent to the Netherlands in 1972 to try to snap Brian Wilson out of his depression. The album that followed, Holland, contained three "California Saga" songs - Beaks of Eagles, Big Sur, and California:

Beaks of Eagles

"...An eagle's nest on the head of an old redwood on one of the
precipice-footed ridges
Above Ventana Creek, that jagged country which nothing but a fallen meteor will ever plow: no horseman
Will ever ride there, no hunter cross this ridge but the winged ones, no
one will steal the eggs from this fortress.
The she-eagle is old, her mate was shot long ago, she is now mated
With a son of hers.
When lightning blasted her nest she built it again on the same tree, in
the splinters of the thunder bolt.

In a broken shack an old man takes his time about dyin'
And just at the back a wild flowerbed that he'll lie in
In dawn's new light a man might venture
A horse drawn stage from Monterey.

The she-eagle is older than I: she was here when the fires of eighty-five
raged on these ridges,
She was lately fledged and dared not hunt ahead of them, but ate scorched
The world has changed in her time; humanity has multiplied,
But not here; men's hopes and thoughts and customs have changed, their
powers are enlarged, their powers and their follies have become fantastic...."

Big Sur

"...Big Sur I've got plans for you
Me and mine are going to
Add ourselves to your lengthy list of lovers
(Big Sur mount)
And live in canyons covered in springtime green
Wild birds and flowers to be heard and seen
And with my old guitar
I'll make up songs to sing.
Where bubbling springs from the mountainside
Join the Big Sur river to the oceanside
Where the kids can look for sea shells at low tide
Big Sur my astrology it says that I am made to be
Where the rugged mountain meets the water ...."


"Water, water, get yourself in the cool, clear, water
The sun shines brightly down on the bay
The air's so clean it'll just take your mind away
Take your mind away
Take your mind away Have you ever been south of Monterey
Barrancas carve the coast line and the chaparral flows to the sea
... ... ... ...

Have you ever been down Salinas way?
Where Steinbeck found the valley
And he wrote about it the way it was in his Travels With Charley.
And have you ever walked down through the sycamores
Where the farmhouse used to be
There the monarch's autumn journey ends
On a windswept cyprus tree."
The Beatles Get Back It's a bit of a stretch to call this a California Song, but it's the only one I know from the Beatles, and this 1969 song does include Jojo who heads west for some California grass, and I don't think they mean the kind in the yard you have to mow. This was the 12th and final song on their 12th and final studio album.

"Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner
But he knew it couldn't last
Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona
For some California grass

Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, get back
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back, Jojo
Go home"
Be Calm Honcho Pretty on the West Coast See Shannon Harney & Everybody Band
Beck Hollywood Freaks The king of So Cal strip malls drops lobotomy beats and evaporated meats on hi-tech street, then he turns up the heat 'till the swimming pool boils with pop locking beats from Korea. Or... something like that, in this great 1999 release.

"I wanna know what makes you scream
Be your twenty million dollar fantasy
Treat you real good
Expensive jeans
Hollywood freaks on the Hollywood scene
Touch it real good if you want a piece
Party people know I'm that type of freak"
Chuck Berry Promised Land In this classic 1964 rock 'n' roll version of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the singer finally gets to L.A. and phones home.

"I left my home in Norfolk Virginia,
California on my mind.
Straddled that Greyhound, rode him past Raleigh,
On across Caroline.
… … … … ...
We had motor trouble it turned into a struggle,
Half way 'cross Alabam,
And that 'hound broke down and left us all stranded
In downtown Birmingham.

Straight off, I bought me a through train ticket,
Ridin' cross Mississippi clean
And I was on that midnight flyer out of Birmingham
Smoking into New Orleans.
… … … … …
Sure as you're born, they bought me a silk suit,
Put luggage in my hands,
And I woke up high over Albuquerque
On a jet to the promised land.
… … … … …
Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia,
Tidewater four ten O nine
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin'
And the poor boy's on the line."

Chuck Berry Get Your Kicks (On Route 66) See comments under Nat King Cole's original version.
Best Coast The Only Place Here's a California Band with some west coast attitude in their name. And this upbeat pop song continues the geographical jingoism. The title alone tells you what it's about. Bethany Cosentino is a California Girl (couldn't resist) who plays guitar and sings vocals for Best Coast, a band from LA that sounds like a mix of 60's girl group sounds with surf pop. This one is from their 2012 album The Only Place, and I assume from the title, that there's more than one song about the Golden State on it.

"We were born with sun in our teeth and in our hair
When we get bored we like to sit around, sit around and stare
At the mountains, at the birds, at the ocean, at the trees
We have fun, we have fun, we have fun when we please

We wake up with the sun in our eyes It's no surprise that we get so much done
But we always, yes we always, we always have fun
Yes we always, yes we always, we always have fun

Why would you live anywhere else?
Why would you live anywhere else?
We've got the ocean, got the babes
Got the sun, we've got the waves

This is the only place for me
So leave your cold behind
We're gonna make it to the beach on time..."
Frank Black Los Angeles A great 1992 indie hard rocker from Black Francis of the Pixies about several Los Angeleses - one in So Cal, one in Chile, one in the future (2525), and one in old movies. I choose the one in the old movies, as long as there the ones with Gene Tierney, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Grace Kelly....

"I met a man
he was a good man.
Sailin' and shorin'
dancing the beta can-can
making me foreign, aaaah yeah.
I wanna live in Los Angeles
not the one in Los Angeles
not the one in South California
they got one in South Patagonia
I wanna live in Los Angeles
not the one in Los Angeles
They got a bunch down in moleville
they got a bunch more still.
I wanna live in Los Angeles
not the one in Los Angeles
They got one in 25-2-5
works just like a beehive."
Cleo Brown When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan In this upbeat early 40's jazz classic, Harlem crooners, Louis Armstrong, and more will all be heading west when Hollywood goes black and tan. It's a celebration of African American entertainers in the movies, back when there were not many of them.

"Creole babies from Manhattan,
Will be leaving Harlem if they can,
Yeah, man! Oh, yeah, man!
When Hollywood goes black and tan!

Louis Armstrong with his trumpet
Will be heading westward with his band,
Yeah, man! Oh, yeah, man!
When Hollywood goes black and tan!"
Eric Burden and the Animals San Francisco Nights A 1967 song about San Francisco and the Summer of Love, and all that Hippy stuff. But a WARM San Francisco night? That doesn't sound like summer in Don't Call it Frisco to me.

"Strobe lights beam create dreams
walls move minds do too
on a warm San Franciscan night
old child young child feel alright
on a warm San Franciscan night
angels sing leather wings
jeans of blue Harley Davisons too
on a warm San Franciscan night
old angels young angels feel alright
on a warm San Franciscan night.

I wasn't born there perhaps I'll die there
there's no place left to go, San Franciscan."
Hoagy Carmichael Hong Kong Blues Carmichael sings this song in the classic Howard Hawks film "To Have and Have Not" with Humphry Bogart and 19-year-old Lauren Bacall in her first film. I don't understand why the gong-kicking guy says he lives in Frisco if he lives in Tennessee, or why they send rice there (Rice-a-Roni?), but that's show biz...

"It's the story of a very unfortunate colored man
Who got arrested down in old Hong Kong
He got twenty years privilege taken away from him
When he kicked old Buddha's gong

And now he's poppin' the piano just to raise the price
Of a ticket to the land of the free
Well, he says his home's in Frisco where they send the rice
But it's really in Tennessee

That's why he said, 'I need someone to love me
I need somebody to carry me home to San Francisco
And bury my body there
I need someone to lend me a fifty dollar bill and then
I'll leave Hong Kong behind me for happiness once again'

Won't somebody believe
I've a yen to see that Bay again
Every time I try to leave
Sweet opium won't let me fly away"
Carolina Liar California Bound Carolina Liar is an indie rock band from LA with a big bright sound, but the lead vocalist is originally from South Carolina, and other band members are from Sweden. But the guy in this 2008 song can't wait to get back to that California sun that everyone else is always singing about. But this time he's coming by train and not car. What does he they think he'll be able to do in California without a car? I'll bet he's planning on renting a convertible and driving down the coast highway with the top down just like they do in all the other songs. Then he'll write a song about it...

"You're miles away
You just can't relate
Are you what surrounds you?
You feel alive
At least you think that life
Is something in you
What do we know?
There's a southern bound train tomorrow
Takes us out of this dirty town
Chase the sun back to the west coast
In eight hours we're California bound
We're California bound
 … … … …

Forget everything tomorrow
We'll be on a brand new road
Chasing the sun back to the west coast
In eight hours we're California bound
We're California bound
We're California bound"
Neko Case In California The Alt Country queen from the Northwest dreams of snow now that she's living in L.A. where the sun always shines and the palm trees are laughing at her. With a voice like that, she could sing the phone book and I'd still listen.

"In California I dream of snow
And all the places we used to go
With the night falling down
With the night falling down
Now I'm living in Korea Town
Waking to the sound of car alarms

I remember your face when I showed you the ticket
Said you were happy for me, your heart wasn't in it
Just a phone call away
Now there's nothing to say
As the days roll by, disconnected

In the land where the sun is always shining on
Crying alone, palm tress are laughing at me
Another fool playing songs that don't matter
For people who chatter endlessly"
Johnny Cash Folsom Prison Blues Folsom State Prison is near Sacramento. Cash said he wrote this 1955 song after watching a movie about the prison when he was in the Air Force in Germany, but it's clear he used the melody and many of the lyrics from the 1953 song "Crescent City Blues" written by Gordon Jenkins. Jenkins sued and Cash paid him a settlement in 1968. Some say that Sam Phillips of Son Records is the one who refused to credit Jenkins. In any case, Cash's song is much better. It became a huge hit and Cash later made a classic country album recorded live at the prison.

"When I was just a baby,
My Mama told me, 'Son,
Always be a good boy,
Don't ever play with guns,'
But I shot a man in Reno,
Just to watch him die,
When I hear that whistle blowin',
I hang my head and cry."
Cheap Trick
California Man A 1978 cover of the 1972 song by The Move (Roy Wood's band that became The Electric Light Orchestra) with a bunch of classic boogie rock nonsense lyrics about a party where the jive is really cool and he's a California man and can't stop dancing and all that.

"Goin' to a party,
Meet me on after school.
Well we're goin to a place
Where the jive is really cool.

And if the band stops a playin'
There's a jukebox down the hall.
And with your blue dress on, your folks all gone.
You're sure to give the guys a ball.

Get that real guitar boy shakin',
I'm a California man,
Dance right on till the floors are breakin'
I'm a California man."
Chicago Southern California Purples In this rock song with a horn section released in 1969, Chicago wonders where that the fabled California sun is. L.A. is cold and cloudy when you've lost your girl and you've got the blues. Or the purples, in this case. There must be something red in L.A. that mixes with the blues.

"I thought this was a warm place
I must be in the wrong place.
Thought this was a warm place
I must be in the wrong place.
And I don't know where I'm going
Since my lover left me.
Never no smile on my face.
I am he is you are he is you are me and we are all together, woah woah.
Buddy, this ain't L.A.
I've travelled such a long way.
Buddy, this ain't L.A.
I've travelled such a long way,
And I still don't know where I'm going.
But without my baby
I better not stay."
Guy Clark L. A. Freeway A classic country/folk song from 1974 by a great Texas singer and songwriter. I like the solo version you can hear on YouTube. This song has been covered by lots of other performers.

"Pack up all your dishes.
Make note of all good wishes.
Say goodbye to the landlord for me.
That son of a bitch has always bored me.
Throw out them LA papers
And that moldy box of vanilla wafers.
Adios to all this concrete.
Gonna get me some dirt road back street

If I can just get off of this LA freeway
Without getting killed or caught
I'd be down that road in a cloud of smoke
For some land that I ain't bought bought bought"
Nat King Cole (Get Your Kicks) On Route 66 This rock classic was written in 1946 by Bobby Troupe, recorded first the same year by Nat King Cole, and recorded by many more musicians, including Chuck Berry in 1961 and the Rolling Stones in 1964. My family came to California from Illinois to LA driving almost the complete length of Route 66. That was before they built Interstate 40. So this song brings back a few memories for me since I was old enough to remember seeing the desert for the first time.

"Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way that's the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66

Well it winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2000 miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66

Well it goes from St Louis,
down to Missouri
Oklahoma city looks oh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernadino
Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66"
Concrete Blonde Still in Hollywood The singer of this L.A. punk band is stuck in "the city of sin" in this song from 1986.

"I was walking down the street early this morning
Past the graveyard, voices singin' to me.
I was walking down the street, early this morning
And the silver drops of rain hung from the leaves
And I swear I heard the voices singing to me...
Singing to the rhythm of the beat of my feet,
I swear I heard the voices singing to me -
Keep on, keep on, keep on.

Still in Hollywood!
Oh WOW! Thought I'd be out of here by now.
Still in Hollywood!
My, my I'm running on a wheel and I don't know why
I don't know why.
... ... ... ... ... ...
And so it's three A.M., I'm out walking again.
I'm just a spot on the sidewalk in the city of sin.
He doesn't give a fuck, he's living under a truck.
You know it coulda been me, guess it's just my luck.
But I swear I hear the voices singing to me -
Keep on, keep on, keep on.
Still in Hollywood..."
Elizabeth Cook Not California A 2010 tune from the smart and quicky country roots rocker. She didn't write it, but she sings it. It seems to be about someone who moved away from California and misses it. I've put a song of hers about a snake in the bed on the herp song list, too.

"Later on you're breaking the boxes down
There's nobody out tonight, nobody's hanging 'round
So you take the drive that used to be almost right
But now it's just empty lots around you
All these empty lots around you And they don't know
What you hold dear
and they can't see
That it's not California here

And it's not true
And it's not fair
And they're not us
And it's not California here...."
Jonathan Coulton I Hate California An upbeat acoustic guitar tune from the 2003 first album of the singer-songwriter from Brooklyn known for writing quircky songs about science fiction and technology and geek culture and became popular using the internet. He doesn't hate the state, it's all about a girl.

"I hate California
There's something out there I just don't get
I know your friends out there must think I'm pretty strange
Because I dress as if the weather's gonna change
But it never does
I hate California

I hate California
The sun goes down the wrong side
Something in the water, maybe something in the sand
Maybe some west coast thing I'll never understand
Maybe just because
I hate California

I don't blame the Beach Boys
I don't blame Hollywood
I don't blame L.A.
Although I probably should
I don't blame the sky for its careless shade of blue
Lord knows I don't blame you
Lord knows I don't blame you

I hate California
One more beach day come and gone
And by the time you've finished gazing at the sea
3,000 miles away there's nothing left for me
If there ever was
I hate California...."
Cracker Big Dipper This one's slow and moody, with only a brief California reference, but I've always enjoyed Cracker and David Lowery and his earlier band Camper Van Beethoven, both excellent California bands, since they were taking the skinheads bowling in 1985, so he needs to be on this list somewhere...

"And we could wait our lives
Before a chance arrives
Before the passage

From the top you can see Monterey
Or think about San Jose
Though I know it`s not that pleasant'
Creedence Clearwater Revival Lodi John Fogerty had never been to Lodi in 1969 when he chose the city to represent a dead-end town that a down on his luck musician couldn't escape after a one night stand. "Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi Again" is now the theme of some city events in Lodi, proving there's no such thing as bad publicity, and that the people there have a good sense of humor.

"Rode in on the Greyhound
I'll be walkin' out if I go
I was just passin' through
Must be seven seven months or more
Ran out of time and money
Looks like they took my friends
Oh Lord I'm stuck in Lodi again."
Sheryl Crow All I Wanna Do This ain't no disco, it ain't no country club either. This is L.A. and girls just wanna have fun, by sitting around drinking beer at noon on a Tuesday with an ugly guy named Billy in a bar next to a car wash on Santa Monica Boulevard. Whatever works for you... It certainly worked for Sheryl; it's still her biggest hit, and the 1995 Grammys record of the year.

"This ain't no disco
This ain't no country club either, this is L.A.
… … … … …
We are drinking beer at noon on Tuesday
In the bar that faces the giant car wash
And the good people of the world
Are washing their cars on their lunch breaks
Hosing and scrubbing as best they can
In skirts and suits

And they drive their shiny Datsuns and Buicks
Back to the phone company, the record stores, too
Well, they're nothing like Billy and me
'Cause All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one...
Until the sun comes up over
Santa Monica Boulevard"
The Dead Kennedys California Uber Alles "I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...
Carter Power will soon go away
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school!
Your kids will meditate in school!
California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California"

Watching the Dead Kennedys at the Mabuhay back in the late 70's was one of the highlights of the SF Punk scene. But over 30 years later Jerry Brown became governor again in 2011, while the credibility of the DKs took a hit after Jello Biafra was convicted for cheating the rest of the band out of royalties and he countered that they stole his songs which they then sold to be used in video games. "Anarchy For Sale" is another one of the band's songs. "Money Uber Alles" should be another.
Death Cab For Cutie Bixby Canyon Bridge Indie rockers from Bellingham Washington in a song from 2007 about that tall bridge over the ocean on highway one near Big Sur that you've seen in movies and commercials. Jack Keroac ended up in Big Sur and this song is supposed to be about him.

"I descended a dusty gravel ridge
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
Until I eventually arrived
At the place where your soul had died

Barefoot in the shallow creek
I grab some stones from underneath
And waited for you to speak to me

In the silence it became so very clear
That you had long ago disappeared
And I cursed myself for being surprised
That this didn't play like it did in my mind

All the way from San Francisco
As I chased the end of your rope
'Cause I've still got miles to go"
Death Cab For Cutie Why You'd Want to Live Here Another anti-L.A. song from 2001 by the Bellingham indie rockers.

"I'm in Los Angeles today...
Garbage cans comprise the medians of freeways always creaping
Even when the population's sleeping.

And I can't see why you'd want to live here.
...    ...    ...    ...    ...
The vessel keeps pumping us through this zentropic place
In the belly of the beast that is Californ-i-a,
I drank from a faucet and I kept my receipts
For when the weigh me on my way out
(Here nothing is free).
The greyhounds keep coming
Dumping locusts into the street
Until the gutters overflow
And Los Angeles thinks,
'I might explode someday soon.'

It's a lovely summer's day
And I can almost see a skyline through a thickening shroud of egos.
(Is this the city of Angeles or demons?)
Here the names are what remain...
Stars encapsulate the gold lame
And they need constant cleaning for when the tourists begin salivating.

You can't swim in a town this shallow - you will most assuredly drown tomorrow."
The Decemberists California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade A 2003 indie pop song about the coast highway from some Oregonians.

"Take a long drive with me
On California one, California one
We're lining up the light-loafere'd
And the bored bench warmers
Castaways and cutouts, fill it up
Come join the youth and beauty brigade
Nothing will stand in our way"
The Decemberists Calamity Song A 2011 tune that channels the upbeat jangly guitars of 80's REM (literally - because Peter Buck is playing them.) There's not much really about California, just the stereotypical end-of-the-world viewof the state destroyed by an earthquake, but it is a great great song.

"Had a dream
You and me and the war of the end times
And I believe
California succumbed to the fault line
We heaved relief
As scores of innocents died…"
Lana Del Rey
(aka Elizabeth Grant)
West Coast From her 2014 album "Ultraviolence" She never mentions California, but the location is obviously LA.

"Down on the West Coast, they got their icons
Their silver starlets, their Queens of Saigons
And you've got the music, you've got the music in you, don't you?

Down on the West Coast, they love their movies
Their golden gods, and rock and roll groupies
And you've got the music, you've got the music in you, don't you?

You push it hard, I pull away, I'm feeling hotter than fire
I guess that no one ever really made me feel that much higher
Te deseo, cariño, boy, it's you I desire
Your love, your love, your love"
Delta Spirit California An Indie Pop break-up or maybe unrequited love song from 2012 from a band formed in San Diego that has been labeled Indie Rock, Americana, and Soul.

"I want you to move to California for yourself,
I want you to find whatever your heart needs,
I want you to move to California for yourself, but not for me
I want you to go out there and find somebody else,
I want him to treat you like I know he should,
I want you to find somebody new for yourself, if not for me.

all of the feelings that I know you never felt,
and all of the simple words you never said,
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself, they’re not for me.

I want you to wander silent past my outstretched arms,
I want you to hide yourself from all I see,
and though my heart will fight until its dying breath, you’re not for me."
Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy California Uber Alles Sampling the Dead Kennedys with new lyrics and slamming then 80's Republican governor Pete Wilson this time. I'm waiting for someone to do a newer version skewering the Governator. (Well, it's now 2011, so it's too late for that. And Ahnold retired in a sex scandal -  no surprise there.)
John Doe (featuring Kathleen Edwards) Golden State This song is an upbeat guitar rocker with nice hooks and harmonies and a great chorus. One of my favorite California Songs.

"The Golden State" has been the official California State Nickname since 1968. John Doe is a singer-songwriter, actor from LA, member of the LA punk band X, The Knitters, and has recorded many solo and collaborative albums. Kathleen Edwards is a Canadian singer-songwriter. (Her 2012 album Voyageur has some nice cuts on it - check out "Change the Sheets.")

"You are the hole in my head
I am the pain in your neck
You are the lump in my throat
I am the aching in your heart

We are tangled
We are stolen
We are living where things are hidden You are something in my eye
And I am the shiver down your spine

You are on the lick of my lips
And I am on the tip of your tongue

We are tangled
We are stolen
We are buried up to our necks in sand We are luck
We are fate
We are the feeling you get in the golden state
We are love
We are hate
We are the feeling I get when you walk away….
Walk away..."
The Dollyrots California The Dollyrots are a pop punk band with a female vocalist that is from Florida and settled in LA in 2002. This song is from their 2010 release "A Little Messed Up."

"It's a place where the skies are blue
Not a cloud cloud in the sky to speak of
Everyone's swimming in the surf
And palm trees line the streets you walk on

Showing off your brand new fan says
Bleach blond hottie get their ditches
And walking down the Walk of Fame 'cause
Sunset Strip's where you do your business

Meet me in California
Where you can have it all, yeah
We'll be in California
The sun is shining bright
And well it starts tonight

Yeah, yeah, tonight
Can I give it a try

Going swimming in your pool, yeah
The view from the Hills is so so gorgeous
Everyone's got their brand new boards for
Day and night they walk the carpet

Meet me in California
Where you can have it all, yeah
We'll be in California
The sun is shining bright
And well it starts tonight.
... ... ... ...
Yeah, you've got California dreams
Coz the west is best, always forever"
The Dollyrots California Beach Boy Another song from 2010's "A Little Messed Up."

"Went down to Venice Beach
Dirty Converse walking down the street
Never thought I'd look his way
oh no oh no oh no

Said baby whats your name
Now I'm falling for his cheesy game
But were totally not the same
oh no oh no oh no

My friends tell me I've gone crazy
Oh, no, here I go
Fell in love with a California beach boy
Oh, no, here I go
What am I thinking it's so wrong
I'm in love with a California beach boy

He drives a Mercedes
Abercrombie head down to his feet
You must wonder what I see
oh no oh no oh no
But he holds the door for me
Like he invented chivalry
To my heart he holds the key
oh no oh no oh no

My friends tell me I've gone crazy
Oh, no, here I go
Fell in love with a California beach boy
Oh, no, here I go
What am I thinking it's so wrong
I'm in love with a California beach boy"
The Doors LA Woman In this classic rock song from 1971, LA is a lonely woman with freeways, midnight alleys and hair like a wildfire, and Jim Morrison's Mojo is risin'. I lost mine, but Austin Powers promised to help me find it.

"L.A. Woman
L.A. Woman
L.A. Woman, Sunday afternoon
L.A. Woman, Sunday afternoon
L.A. Woman, Sunday afternoon
Drive through your suburbs
Into your blues
Into your blues, yeah
Into your blue, blue, blues
Into your blues
Ohh, yeah

I see your hair is burnin'
Hills are filled with fire
If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar
Drivin' down your freeways
Midnight alleys roam
Cops in cars, the topless bars
Never saw a woman
So alone, so alone
So alone, so alone"
The Dresden Dolls Shores of California The Dresden Dolls are a duo from Boston formed in 2000 including Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione. They describe their style as "Brechtian punk cabaret" and are part of the "Dark Cabaret" movement. This song is from their 2006 album "Yes Virginia"

"He's been trying with limited success
To get this girl to let him get into her dress
But every time he thinks he's getting close
She threatens death before he gets a chance

And that's the way it is in Minnesota
And that's the way it is in Oklahoma
That's the way it's been since protozoa
First climbed onto the shores of California

And she's been trying with limited success
To get him to turn out the lights and dance
Cause like any girl all she really wants
That fickle little bitch romance
That fickle little bitch romance

And that is why a girl is called a tease
And that is why a guy is called a sleaze
And that's why god made escort agencies
One life to live and mace and GHB

And that's the way it is in Minnesota
And that's the way it is in Oklahoma
That's the way since the animals and noah
First climbed onto the shores of California"
The Eagles Hotel California I have no idea what this 1977 mega hit is really about, or if it's even about California. Some guy drives through the desert to a decadent hotel in the desert full of beautiful people, were you can check out but never leave. The best thing about it is the guitar solo.

"Her mind is tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the captain,
’please bring me my wine’
He said, ’we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine’
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
They livin’ it up at the hotel California
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis"
J. D. Edwards West Coast Blues I can't find out much information about J. D. Edwards. Someone on YouTube says he was "more than likely a musician on the 1950's Houston, TX. blues scene." Edwards shouts out this mid-tempo blues along with electric guitar, drums, and a stand up bass that never stops.

"On my way to California
I guess I'll be on my way
On my way to California
I guess I'll be on my way
I'm tellin' everybody
This time I'm goin' to stay

Got a woman in California
That's as sweet as she can be
Woman in California
That's as sweet as she can be
Yes, she'll be waiting there for me"
EMA California From her 2011 album "Past Life Martyred Saints," this one is from a young but very bitter California Girl.  Beware the expletives.

"F... California, you made me boring
I've bled all my blood out
But these red pants they don't show that
My old friends though they know that
But when I sold them I sold that
… … … … …
You're bleeding from the fingertips
You rubbed me raw, you rubbed me wrong
And I hear you and I think of you

Oh California Now you've corrupted us all with your sexuality
Tried to tell me love was free…
Tried to tell me love was free
I said them? Maybe you you you you you and me "
Eminem Say Goodbye to Hollywood Marshall Mathers raps about his troubled life again, from his 2002 album "The Eminem Show." It's not really a California song, but he sings "Hollywood" so many times that it feels like it must be...

"Bury my face in comic books, cause I don't want to look
At nothin', this world's too much
I've swallowed all I could
If I could swallow a bottle of tylenol I would, and end it for good
Just say goodbye to Hollywood
I probably should, these problems are piling all at once
Cause everything that bothers me, I got it bottled up
I think i'm bottomin' out
But i'm not about to give up, I gotta get up
Thank God, I got a little girl
And I'm a responsible father
So not a lot of good, i'd be to my daughter layin' in the bottom of the mud
Must be in my blood cause I don't know how I do it
All I know is I don't want to follow in the footsteps of my dad
Cause I hate him so bad
The worst fear that I had was growin' up to be like his CENSORED
If you could understand why I am the way that I am
What do I say to my fans, when I tell 'em i'm...

Sayin' goodbye, sayin' goodbye to Hollywood
Sayin' goodbye, sayin' goodbye to Hollywood
Sayin' goodbye, sayin' goodbye to Hollywood
Sayin' goodbye, sayin' goodbye to Hollywood
Sayin' goodbye, sayin' goodbye to Hollywood..."
Everclear Like a California King Singer, songwriter Art Alexakis grew up in L.A., but formed the band in Portland. This song's from '97, but it's not about the bed or about flippin' hillside board lines in the late winter and early spring, it's just more of the same intense brooding rock that made this album their best seller.

"I see you have made yourself a brand new life
Such a cool blue star with a bright new shine
I see you wear your checkered past
Just like a shining suit of gold
I know you think you look so special
I am told you have found yourself a brand new time
Watch the world stand still as years go by
I know you think you are so new and different
But it makes no sense to me
There is nothing new about you
Just another self-made man
There is nothing new that I see
Enjoy it while you can
I know you think you look so special
What makes you think you are so special?
What makes you think you are unique?
I see you smile and I get angry
As I watch you go colossal
Like a California king
What makes you think you are better than me?
What makes you think you are better?
What makes you think you are so complete?
What makes you think you are the only one immune to falling down?
Why can't you see?
I see you fall and I get happy
I will watch you burn like fire
I will watch you burn like a California king
I will watch you burn like a California king"
The Fall L. A. I really don't care if they're singing about the city of L.A. Their video seems to think so. I love this song. The music is hard and driving but sparse and minimal in that 80's post-punk way in this1985 release from the great UK band.

Bushes are in disagreement with the heat
They have filled boulevards with white snow, scum-ball
This is my happening and it freaks me out"
Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard Big Sur Jay Farrar, of the pioneering Alt Country/No Depression band Uncle Tupelo (that he started in Illinois with his neighbor Jeff Tweedy, later the frontman of Wilco) and later with the band Son Volt, and Ben Gibbard, leader of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service, got together and made an album in 2009 titled "One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Keroac's Big Sur" with lyrics based on Keroac's 1962 novel "Big Sur."  This one is a beautiful slow steel-guitar drenched country folk number. I definitely need to hear some more of this album.

"This whole surface of the world
As we know it know
Will be covered with the silt of a billion years in time

I see as much as doors will allow
A long way from
The Beat Generation
Here comes the nightly mark to his nightly death
In Big Sur
In Big Sur

The best thing to do is not be false
Rocks of the valley
Have left no hall of complaints
I'm just a sick clown, and so is everybody else
In Big Sur
In Big Sur"
Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard California Zephyr Another song from the 2009 album "One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Keroac's Big Sur" with lyrics based on Keroac's 1962 novel "Big Sur."

"Up the Hudson Valley across New York state
To Chicago then the plains
All so easy and dreamlike
Crashing the salt flat day break
I hear "I'll take you home again Kathleen"
Sad in fogwinds out there that blow
Across the rooftops of eerie old hang over San Francisco
Now I'm transcontinental
3000 Miles from my home
I'm on the California Zephyr
Watching America roll by"
Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard San Francisco And another song from the 2009 album "One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Keroac's Big Sur" with lyrics based on Keroac's 1962 novel "Big Sur."

"The church is blowing a sad windblown “Kathleen”
On the bells of the skid row slums
I wake up goopy and woebegone
At the Mars Hotel on 4th and Howard
Do you remember dancing girls in St. Louis

Stan Getz on the hi-fi under midnight kitchen bulbs
We all agree it’s too big to keep up with
That we’re surrounded by life – that we’ll
Never understand it
The great magical city of the Gandharvas
Of San Francisco"
Fatboy Slim Kalifornia In this 1998 Electronica cut, a computerized voiced drones "California is druggy, druggy, druggy, druggy" over some crazy beats for a dancable six minutes.
The Fifth Dimension California Soul See Marlena Shaw's version.
Fight Fair California Kicks Fight Fair is a pop punk band from San Diego, based in San Francisco. This song is off their 2010 album "California Kicks." They lyrics are full of abbreviations and names that are guaranteed to keep old guys from me from understanding what on earth they're trying to say.

"Hit the beach because I can California Kicks,
Grab the boards cuz the plan is to score some chicks!

Cram the buds in the van cuz we need out fix of Del Taco,
Or maybe some In-n-out,
Double Double Whole Grill, Animal Fries, YEAH!

From S.B. to S.D. at the clubs all night,
Paparazzi lights,

Watch Entourage on TV,
But its out real life at Teddy's inside of the Roosevelts,
Bottle service at the club all night, UHH!
... ... ... ...
I hit the beach because I can California Kicks,
Grab the boards cuz the plan is to score some chicks!
Cram the buds in the van cuz we need out fix,
We need out fix,
I hit the beach because I can California Kicks,
Grab the boards cuz the plan is to score some chicks!
Cram the buds in the van cuz we need out fix,
We need out fix,
Yeah we need out fix! (Del Taco)"
The Four Preps 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) The Four Preps were four wholesome clean-cut former Hollywood High School students who backed up Ricky Nelson on Ozzie and Harriet and Sandra Dee in the Gidget movie. The kind of guys your parents loved. This is their big hit from 1958 with 4-part harmony and a bouncy accompaniment.

"Twenty- six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me
Santa Catalina, the island of romance, romance, romance,romance

Water all around it everywhere
Tropical trees and the salty air
But for me the thing that's a-waitin' there-romance

It seems so distant, twenty-six miles away
Restin' in the water serene
I'd work for anyone, even the Navy
Who would float me to my island dream

Twenty- six miles, so near yet far
I'd swim with just some water-wings and my guitar
I could leave the wings but I'll need the guitar for romance,romance, romance,

Twenty- six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is a-waitin' for me
Santa Catalina, the island of romance…"
Gin Blossoms California Sun This pop band from Arizona broke up, then re-formed and released a record in 2006, which contained this song.

"Just three days and I'm missing you more than I thought I would
I'm missing you more than i like to say
I'm hanging on a hope swinging from a rope
it's all a shame
my biggest mistake was letting you get away.

Oh baby

California sun
so bright and beautiful, yea but that was yesterday
California sun
how'd you slip away
California sun.

Been about a week and I finally fall asleep as the sun comes in
through the broken blinds
laying all alone
sinking like stone
wish you were here
can't sleep you of my mind…."
Gomez California English Indie Rock from 1999.

"California got her right
You will have to wait
Calling from the Golden Gate

Sentimental sparrows
Keeping me awake
Funny how the morning's late
Funny how the morning's late

Come around with your heavenly smile
Come around and drag me out again
After a while we can sit and watch them all rush by
Come around and drag me out again
Come around and drag me out again

Always wanted to leave
Always felt that I'd get stopped
But I could never see myself
In anybody else's arms
In anybody else's arms…."
Lesley Gore California Nights When she wasn't singing about crying at her own party, or pre-feminist anthems like "You Don't Own Me", Lesley Gore sang this 1967 pop song about how much she likes nights in California.

"Along the sand,
Let's walk the shore together, now, just hand in hand.
It's gonna be fair weather, now,
When the stars come out, stop to count them in the sky.

Love California nights,
When I'm walkin' with you hand in hand by the shore,
Yes, I love California nights,
At the beach where we'd swim with the tide rolling in.

And there will be beneath the midnight sky above
Just you and me, and we will whisper words of love
While the fire light softly flickers in the sand.

Warm California nights,
With the breeze blowin' in - time for love to begin.
I would miss California nights if I went on my way,
Thinkin' now that I'll stay."
Grateful Dead Estimated Prophet Classic Dead acid rock with lots of wah wah guitar and harmonica (and girls twirling in Indian print dresses in the background, I'm sure.)

"California, preaching on the burning shore
California, I'll be knocking on the golden door
Like an angel, standing in a shaft of light
Rising up to paradise, I know I'm gonna shine."
Adam Gregory She's So California Here's a country singer who likes to objectify "California" girls, and country girls who look like they could be from California. At least he's not a hater. Of course, he's Canadian, and they're always nice and polite. This song's from 2006, two years before Gary Allan's country song with the same title, and the same appreciation for bleached blondes.

"Bleached blonde hair and no tan lines
at least that's what I dream at night.
Star dust eyes that shine Pacific blue.
From her toes to her halo she's been blessed
with a body you would have to buy out west .
She walks and talks a different attitude.
Her smile is so much brighter than this stupid place.
You can almost hear Hollywood calling her name.
She's so California.

She should have a star on Hollywood blvd.
drive around in a Lamborghini sports car.
Summer sun clear yeah she's sexy.
She's so Sunset Strip teases me.

Here right there on the front porch swing
I swear I hear the Beach Boys sing.

Peach street sign just like Rodeo Drive.
Tight tank top and low rise jeans.
Now I know what earthquake means.
She really makes this small town come alive.
When she walks into church in her summer dress
Oh even the preacher has to confess.
She's so California."
Margo Guryan California Shake An earthquake song from a 60's pop/folk/jazz singer-songwriter, whose songs were recorded by several well-known pop singers. She's known mainly for her 1968 album "Take A Picture". This song comes from a 2001 release "25 Demos," and as far as I can tell, it was also recorded in the late 60's but it holds up very well and doesn't sound too dated. And I don't know of any other song where Earthquake sounds get to accompany the band.

"Melon-rising California sun
Drifting in a day not yet begun
Six o'clock and peaceful and serene
Floating in a Technicolor scene

Something nearly peaceful in the sound
Rising from the San Andreas ground
Overground, it starts to feel strange
Underground, it starts to rearrange

You'd better get up
And run for a doorway

No time for thinking
Your life is at stake
Everyone's doing
The California Shake
California Shake"
Arlo Guthrie Comin' into Los Angeles Arlo's father sang great protest songs about Oakies fleeing the dust bowl and coming to California for work and Arlo sang about smuggling weed into L.A. on an airplane.  Oh well...  Arlo's a Republican now and his father must be rolling over in his grave.

"Coming in from London from over the pole
Flying in a big airliner
Chicken flyin' everywhere around the plane
Could we ever feel much finer.

Coming into Los Angeles
Bringing in a couple of keys,
Don't touch my bags if you please
Mister customs man."
Woody Guthrie Do Re Mi "This machine kills fascists" was written on Guthrie's guitar. He wrote a number of songs about the great 1930's dust bowl and its refugees, including this one, where he warns that the Promised Land has a steep cover charge. (And it still does...)

"California is a garden of Eden,
a paradise to live in or see;
but believe it or not,
you won't find it so hot
if you ain't got the do re mi."
Merle Haggard Beer Can Hill "You could do better, but you won't do bad, in Bakersfield."

The town could use that as its motto. The town of Oildale has named a street after Merle. I hope that's not all they've done...

A song about Beer Can Hill outside of Bakersfield, where Mr. Haggard learned how to walk, run, fight, dance, romance, pick a little cotton and a lot of guitar, and also to do a little time. (I saw the pardon given him by Governor Ronald Reagan at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, just down the hall from Dolly Parton's wigs...)

Merle Haggard


California Blues
(Blue Yodel #4)
A country blues with lots of slide guitar. Recorded by Jimmy Rogers in 1928 and many others, including Lefty Frizell and Doc Watson.

"Well I'm goin' to California
Where they sleep out every night
I'm goin' to California
Where they sleep out every night
I'm leaving you, mama
'Cause you know you don't treat me right

Let me tell you somethin'
Mama, that you don't know
Let me tell you somethin'
Good gal, that you don't know
Well, I'm a do right papa
And got a home everywhere I go

I got the California blues and I'm
Sure gonna leave you here
Lord, Lord
I got the California blues and I'm
Sure gonna leave you here
I may ride the blind
I aint got no railroad fare..."
Merle Haggard Kern River Another California song by this Country music great from Bakersfield about love one who drowned in the Kern River. When you're driving up to Lake Isabella from Bakersfield, just at the entrance to Kern Canyon where the "Killer" Kern River flows into the valley, there's a sign that says "Danger. Stay Out. Stay Alive" with a tally of how many people have drowned in the river. Last I saw it, it was over 250.

"I'll never swim Kern River again.
It was there that I met her.
It was there that I lost my best friend.
And now I live in the mountains.
I drifted up here with the wind.
And I may drown in still water,
But I'll never swim Kern River again.
I grew up in an oil town,
But my gusher never came in.
And the river was a boundary,
Where my darlin' and I used to swim.
One night in the moonlight,
The swiftness swept her life away.
And now I live on Lake Shasta,
And Lake Shasta is where I will stay.

There's the South San Joaquin,
Where the seeds of the dust bowl are found.
And there's a place called Mount Whitney,
From where the mighty Kern River comes down.
Now, it's not deep nor wide,
But it's a mean piece of water, my friend.
And I may cross on the highway,
But I'll never swim Kern River again."
Albert Hammond It Never Rains in Southern California Hammond must have visited So Cal in December in a wet year. It's a nice twist on the land of constant sunshine myth where the grass is always greener...

"Got on a board a west bound 747
Didn't think before deciding what to do.
All that talk of opportunities, TV breaks and movies
Rang true, sure rang true.

Seems it never rains in Southern California
Seems I've often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl, don't they warn ya
It pours, man it pours.

Out of work, I'm out of my head
Out of self respect, I'm out of bread
I'm under loved, I'm under fed
I wanna go home.

It never rains in California
But girl don't they warn ya,
it pours, man it pours."
Albert Hammond Jr. 101 A nice upbeat rocker off his debut solo album "Yours to Keep" from 2006. Hammond is a member of The Strokes and the Son of Albert Hammond who sang It Never Rains in Southern California. (Above) Highway 101 runs along the entire west coast of the USA, but I'm going to assume this song is about the California highway, since Hammond grew up in LA.

"Though it took me by surprise
One by one I realized
There was something I could do

I lost my way.
That's what she said
Back to the 101
If we don't know
Somewhere to go
Back to the 101

I never said to feel relaxed
I never said to love me back
What was I next to you?

In my mind it all goes back
Lost control of what I had
All my thoughts left one by one "

I lost my way.
That's what she said
Back to the 101
Back to the one
I never won
Back to the 101 "
Shannon Harney & Everybody Band Pretty on the West Coast 2013 - Together' EP
According to her website "A mountain kid living in San Francisco, Shannon Harney blends forest folk and indie pop…. Apparently she is now (2014) with the San Francisco band Be Calm Honcho.

No offense to Oregon or Seattle, but this song is obviously not about you ("...the land that the sun loves most...")

"Ain't if fun
to be pretty on the west coast
Ain't it a good time
to be free in the land that the sun loves most

I know that we are kings
I swear we'll be big
just livin out our dreams
couldn't pay us to quit

I know we are cool
I know we'll be fine
we did everything we could
to not make up our mind..."
Richard Harris MacArthur Park

Written by Jimmy Webb (who also wrote By the Time I Get to Phoenix), first recorded by Richard Harris in 1968, and recorded by more than 50 other musicians, including big band versions, a disco version by Donna Summer in 1978, and a country version by Waylon Jennings in 1969, this classic pop song set in a Los Angeles park has also been called one of the worst songs ever written, and I agree, its high up on that list.

"Spring was never waiting for us, girl
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages and were pressed,
In love's hot, fevered iron
Like a striped pair of pants

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down...
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!
… … … … …
I will take my life into my hands and I will use it
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it
I will have the things that I desire
And my passion flow like rivers through the sky.
And after all the loves of my life
After all the loves of my life
I'll be thinking of you
And wondering why.

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down...
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!"

Beth Hart LA Song
(Out of This Town)
Beth Hart is a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles who is hard to categorize. This 1999 song brought her some fame. It's about a woman who didn't have much luck with men, so she leaves LA, finds another loser somewhere else, then says she's gotta get back to LA. I have a feeling there have been many such round trips with her. The way she sings it at the very end, "LA" has about 92 syllables in it. Now that's talent.

"She hangs around the boulevard
She's a local girl with local scars.
She got home late, she got home late
She drank so hard the bottle ached.

And she tried and she tried, she tried and she tried,
But nothing's clear in a bar full of flies.
So she takes and she takes, she takes and she takes,
She understands when she gives it away,

She says, man I gotta get out of this town
Man I gotta get out of this pain.
Man I gotta get out of this town,
Out of this town, and out of LA."
… … … … … …

"So she took a train, she took a train,
To a little old town without a name.
She met a man, he took her in,
But fed her all the same bulls*&# again.

'Cause he lied and he lied, he lied and he lied,
He lied like a salesman sellin flies.
So she screamed and she screamed, she screamed and she screamed,
It's a different place but the same old thing.

It's all I love, Its all I hate,
It's all to much for me to take
I can't be sure where it begins,
Or if the good life lies within.

She says, man I gotta get out of this town
Now I gotta get back on that train.
Man I gotta get out of this town,
I'm out of my pain, so I'm goin back to L.A.
Back to L.A
Back to L.A
I'm goin back to L.A.
I'm goin back to L.A"
Beth Hart My California This is the lead-off track from her 2010 album "My California."
I couldn't get this one out of my mind when I first heard it, so beware - Earworm Alert!

"Calling California is there anybody home
Hello California won't you please pick up the phone
I wanna say I love you but I'm a million miles away
And I am thinking of you I miss you and LA

For you and you alone I'll lay my monsters down
And we'll watch the sun come up over California
For you and you alone I'll find my way back home
And I'll love you like the sun loves California
You're my California

I have made you suffer left you waiting in the rain
While I was chasing demons in the deserts of my pain
You know me better than the poison in my veins
So my love remember when God forgets my name

For you and you alone I'll lay my monsters down
And I'll watch the sun come up over California
For you and you alone I'll find my way back home
And I'll love you like the sun loves California"
PJ Harvey and John Parish Leaving California Polly Jean Harvey is a well-known singer-songwriter-instrumentalist from England. In 1988 she joined a band with John Parish, who has produced and collaborated with her since. They collaborated on "A Woman A Man Walked By" in 2009 that included this song. PJ can really shred the speakers when she wants, but this one is slow with minimal accompaniment and she sings the chorus in a very high-pitched screech guaranteed to bother most people but I think this song is a brilliant as most of her work.


No one but me is walking
under palms that give no shade
I'm leaving you today

... ... ...

Killed me
Killed me
California I think it's time to leave
I think it's time to leave
I told no one I'd stay
I think it's time to leave
Colin Hay Oh California "Thought I’d never reach the water
Had to cross the desert and the great divide
Drinking only golden promises
With white lines in my eyes
Oh, California
It’s the one big love that you cannot end
Oh, California
Yeah I can’t leave you now
Oh, California"

An acoustic solo song from the smoky-voiced Australian singer from the 80's band Men at Work. Released in 2009.
Hawk Nelson California A 2004 pop punk tune that shows that even Christian Rockers from Ontario Canada can fall for the California as a sunshine and surfing paradise myth. What do all these people have against a few clouds and some rain, anyway?

"...I'm so tired of everything here,
The sun is calling me to the west,
Everyone's having fun out there,
My bags are packed as I'm looking out the window,
Everything is so outdated here,
I wanna move west where the sun is shining,
I want my friends to all be there,

Let's pack up and move to California,
She's got lots of friends out there,
We'll never get bored cause we can go boardin',
Let's let the sunshine take us there
Let's pack up and move to California,
Hop on board before we get older,
Raise your hand and shout for California"
The Head and the Heart Down in the Valley This is such a great song I had to include it here. It's not really a California song - it mentions California only as a place the singer hasn't been to (I think) but the way he sings the words California and Oklahoma make these two places sound like paradise. It's an indie folk-pop song from a Seattle band, released in December 2010, with lots of great harmonies, piano, acoustic instruments, and great percussion.

"I wish I was a slave to an age-old trade Like ridin' around on railcars and workin' long days

Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways
Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways

Call it one drink too many
Call it pride of a man
But it don't make no difference if you sit or you stand

'Cause they both end in trouble and start with a grin
Yeah they both end in trouble and start with a grin

We do it over and over and over again
We do it over and over and over again
I am on my way
I am on my way
I am on my way back to where I started

California, Oklahoma
And all of the places I ain't ever been to but
Down in the valley with
Whiskey rivers
These are the places you will find me hidin'
These are the places I will always go
These are the places I will always go"
Hem Not California A 2006 song from the Indie folk rock group from Brooklyn, with Sally Ellyson on vocals. This song was also recorded by Elizabeth Cook in 2010, by this might be the original (I can't find out who wrote it.)

"Who's the girl inside of the blue-screen light
The sun is just pouring out
And everything is out of sight

Turn around the room is just black and white
She's whispering
Na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na

And it's not true
And it's not fair
And it's not you
And it's not California here...."
John Hiatt Adios to California In this 2011 country rocker, Hiatt seems to recall his time trying to make it in LA in the 80s, stuggling with alcoholism, and his wife's suicide which left him with nothing to do but turn around and return to Nashville.

"Smoky room and a thin blue light
Her arms were pale as white
Trying to outlast the night
Howling at the moon
Living in the Canyon Inn
Hangdown Hanna and Whiskey Jim
Dirty jeans and mudslide hymns
It all began with [soon]

So, adios to California
Nothing to do but turn around
Always thought there's someone coming for you
Only way you'd leave this town."
Hole Malibu This 1998 alternative rock song has ocean, angels, driving down the coast highway, all those typical California references, but with added images of self destruction, suffering and suicide - all of which Courtney Love certainly understands better than most.

"Crash and burn
All the stars explode tonight
How'd you get so desperate
How'd you stay alive
Help me please
Burn the sorrow from your eyes
Oh, come on be alive again
Don't lay down and die
Hey, hey
You know what to do
Oh, baby, drive away to Malibu
Get well soon
Please don't go any higher
How are you so burnt when
You're barely on fire
Cry to the angels
I'm gonna rescue you
I'm gonna set you free tonight, baby
Pour over me
Hey, hey
We're all watching you
Oh, baby, fly away to Malibu"
Jolie Holland Goodbye California Jolie Holland, also a member of the Be Good Tanyas, is a singer from Texas who performs a mixture of folk, jazz and blues. In this song, the singer seems to be saying goodbye to California because she's contemplating suicide - to the accompaniment of a fairly upbeat band which includes a musical saw...

"Goodbye, goodbye, California
Goodbye and I’ll be moving on
I sang you my songs
I know i’m wrong
Fare thee well
And I’ll be moving on

When I’m dead and gone
My immortal home
Will hold me in its bosom
Safe and cold
No more desires
Will light their fires
Or disturb my immaculate calm
And the birds of the air
And the beasts of the soil
And the fishes of the desperate seas
Will know who I am
And our substance will expand
As part of everything

As part of everything, my God
As part of everything
And the clouds will roll
And the wind will blow
And the beautiful birds will sing

Goodbye, goodbye, California
Goodbye to your waving trees
To you succulent wind
And all my friends
Fare thee well
So be it
Hollywood Undead California Hollywood Undead is a rock rap group from L.A., and this 2008 song is all about booze and women and macho territorial swagger. Subjects not exactly foreign to rap music. I almost left this one off the list because of the content and the language. But who am I to censor art? OK, I did censor the lyrics for this all-ages site.

"California show me love
Get buzzed, let's get f***** up
So high, we'll ride all night

Comin' straight outta Cali, what? The 818 valley, what?
323, f*** horse night alley
And from Highland to Clayton, all these b****** are hatin'
'Cause the s*** that we're saying is the s*** that they're playin'
… … … ...
I'm a pirate on the streets of California
Movin' and cruisin', we're boozin' all night to the mornin'
So from dust 'till dawn, you know Undead is always on
Hit it once like a bomb, hit it twice and then I'm gone

California show me love
Get buzzed, let's get f***** up
California throw it up
Get buzzed, let's get f***** up"
Ice Cube Life in California Ice Cube took some time away from the Barbershop to drop this 2010 rap, proving that he's still a gangsta, even if he has his own sitcom. Also see the 80' rap classic he did with NWA - Straight Outta Compton.

"Dough We Get That Dough
Ooh We Got To Get More
Living Just Another Day
AK Gun Play
L.A. To The Bay
Living Life In California
Dough We Get That Dough
Ooh We Got To Get More"
Iron & Wine The Desert Babbler Iron & Wine, aka Samuel Beam, is an American singer-songwriter in the acoustic folky style from the Southeast based in Austin, TX. This song is from his 2013 album Ghost on Ghost. I have no idea at all what it's about, but I'll make sure I'm not in Barstow on New Year's Eve.

"It's New Year's Eve
And California's gonna kill you soon
The Barstow boys
Bug eyes in the shadow of the moon

Black houses in the hills and roadside haunts
Dying for a place to fall apart
Who knew what you could learn to live without
Mother Mary's lying in your mouth, now

Back home the kitchen's warm with Christmas wine
And every girl has got an axe to grind
You live to look for hell, man
But you're far from the hard light tonight

So quietly we lost another year
The desert put a babbler in your ear
He will find a way to not miss you again
Barstow boys all spit into the wind

Back home the hammer always has to fall
Cross is barely hanging on the wall
Some day I know you'll never leave me
But we're far from the hard light tonight"
Chris Isaac San Francisco Days A moody 1993 light rock tune from Ricky Nelson, I mean Roy Orbison, I mean Chris Isaac, who seems happy to return to his home in Sanfcisco, as the syllable-conserving natives say it.

"I'm heading for that golden gate hoping I won't be to late,
to find the one that I still love.
It's you I'm dreaming of, San Francisco nights.
San Francisco days, San Francisco nights.
San Francisco days, San Francisco nights."
Jack's Mannequin Miss California A 2008 song from an Orange County rock band. In this song, it seems like the singer is stalking Miss California and plotting to take her and hider her away somewhere. Pretty creepy....

"...I'm gonna take you to my boxcar on the beach
And I'm gonna hang the sun above your bed
And soak your hair in bleach

You'll be missed Miss California
You'll be kissed by only me
When they can't find you you'll turn into a mystery
but you're no mystery to me, Miss California

I called Jesus but he heard I hurt
his little girl, yeah,
with my reckless stare, I've been so unfair
Misplacing my affections
She had a reason not to take me back into her care
Oh, I'm just a stray dog now, I can't beg or bow
Just give me some direction.

And I'm gonna take you to the mansion where I hide
and I'm gonna paint a diamond on your hand
And you will be my bride
You'll be missed Miss California
You'll be kissed by only me
When they can't find you you'll turn into a mystery
But you're no mystery to me, Miss California
Miss California
I'll be around, I'll be around.

You'll be missed Miss California.
You'll be kissed by only me.
When they can't find you you'll turn into a mystery
But not to me."
Jan and Dean The Little Old Lady From Pasadena A classic 60's car song in the Beach Boys style.

"The little old lady from Pasadena
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Has a pretty little flower bed of white gardenias
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
But parked in her rickety old garage
Is a brand new shiny red Super Stock Dodge

And everybody's saying that there's nobody meaner
Than the little old lady from Pasadena
She drives real fast and she drives real hard
She's the terror of Colorado Boulevard

It's the little old lady from Pasadena

If you see her on the street don't try to choose her
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
You might drive a goer but you'll never lose her
Go granny, go granny, go granny go
Well, she's gonna get a ticket now sooner or later
'Cause she can't keep her foot off the accelerator"
Jamey Johnson California Riots A country tune from 2010. I think all country singers now are required to do a California song, just like rock groups. In this one, Mr. Johnson is not a fan of the perfect California girls. And I hope he never gets caught in the dark in when half of Alabama riots....

"Well I pulled off the Gravel, with my California dreams.
Leaving everything I ever loved behind.
Well I left Alabama, but it never once left me.
And it's still the only refuge in my mind.

Where you gonna be when half of California riots,
where you gonna run to when the lights go out.
Well I won't be hangin' out in California, I won't try it.
Buddy I'll be up and headed south.

All the women here look perfect, and it hardly ever rains,
and for some folks here I'm sure it's paradise.
Well I'll dabble with the fortune, rub elbows with the fame.
But I'll be damned if this is where I'm gonna die."

The Jayhawks Nevada, California The Jayhawks are an American alt/country band from Minneapolis that had some hits with "Blue," "Bad Time," and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"  This one is from their 1992 album "Hollywood Town Hall." The singer should probably invest in a good GPS navigator because there is no such place as Nevada, California. Maybe he wants to find Nevada City, CA, maybe Nevada County, CA. We'll never know for sure.

"Left his day job behind
Every fool dies trying to give his back
Kicked around on the bum
Like a child I scolded for broken toys

Can you help me to find Nevada, California?
The last thing I did was I tried to hold her

The stationmaster is gone
And I'm your lovesick cousin that never wins
First you twist, then you turn
You're on life's icy mountain, dear passenger

Can you help me to find Nevada, California?
Can you help me to find Nevada, California?
The last thing I did was I tried to hold her

Nevada, California
Nevada, California

The stationmaster is gone
Behind the lies you wonder, there lies a jewel
Could it be something's wrong?
The love that won't talk to you but seldom wins

Can you help me to find Nevada, California?
Can you help me to find Nevada, California?
Nevada, California
The last thing I did is I tried to hold her"
Mason Jennings California From the 1990 home-recorded first album by this pop-folk singer-songwriter from Minneapolis.The singer is singing to someone he loves who is leaving for California and leaving him behind.

"Don't you know baby I'm a leading man
I dig down deep when I say I love you
And I can hold my own with the best of them
I guarantee you, you will never see nothing like this again
California, I hope that it wakes you
From all of the darkness
That I couldn't break through
'cause I'm gonna miss you, I'm gonna miss you
I'm gonna miss you, I'm gonna miss you
Don't you know that I did the things I could
I rubbed your back when you were sleeping
But all along baby it was understood
That you were leaving, absolutely
Since the very first day we met
California, I hope that it wakes you
From all of the darkness
That I couldn't break through
'cause I'm gonna miss you, I'm gonna miss you
I'm gonna miss you, I'm gonna miss you
Like I miss the ocean
When I go to sleep
Man, it's gonna break my heart"
Billy Joel Say Goodbye to Hollywood Somehow the New Jersey piano man snuck into tinseltown and populated it with characters from a Bruce Springsteen song in a Phil Spector arrangement. Nice end lyrics...

"Bobby's drivin' through the city tonight
Through the lights in a hot new rent-a-car
He joins the lovers in his heavy machine
It's a scene down on Sunset Boulevard
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye, my baby
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye, my baby
...  ...   ...   ...   ...  

Movin' on is a chance you take
Any time you try to stay - together
Say a word out of line
And you find that the friends you had
Are gone forever

So many faces in and out of my life
Some will last
Some will just be now and then
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye, my baby
Say goodbye to Hollywood
Say goodbye, my baby"
Freedy Johnston California Thing A good upbeat 1992 rocker.

"High off the roof we rise
Flying to a hand up in the sky
All the bells in the city ring
I'm doing my California thing

It was a la, a la, a la
It was a lie, a lie, a lie
I'm doing my California thing
It's happening"
Al Jolson (also Fats Waller) California Here I Come "California here I come, right back where I started from... open up that golden gate, California here I come"

It's campy and dated, (1920's?) and you can't help but associate Jolson with offensive blackface makeup, but it's still one of the best coming back home songs ever.
Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground Oh Lord, I Hate You California A 2010 indie tune from a Seattle band whose genre on their Myspace page is listed as Alternative/Experimental/Lounge. As far as I can tell, and I could be wrong, the singer is talking to his father who lives in Portland and is moving to Santa Cruz to get out of the rain. The grass is greener again - but at least this time it's not in pursuit of California girls…

"I'm always tryin' to call ya papa so Portland sounds aren't all ya know
But I'm a 21st century hang-up who can hardly use his phone
Oh no we don't mean nothin' by it
Your boys will all be fine
Sh*t I should hit I-5 south one hundred and eighty miles instead of droppin' you a line
Well I used to shake a finger at my friends who up and went and moved
Dude I am sympathizing with you more for seein' some new hues
But oh lord I hate you California I guess give me Santa Cruz

And I know it's rainin' outside and it's damn near end of June
Damn if this old dope could go rope the sun
Well I'd yank it over you
And the dogs all howl behind me
In front the cats they claw and hiss
And i guess I'm blessed to know my place is right here sittin' in the midst      [or is it "mist" ?]
And that is why I got no reason to get on up and move
Dude i can understand your rationale for seein' some new hues
But oh lord I hate you California but please give me Santa Cruz"
Kings of Leon California Waiting He's upset about losing his lonely life or something. I don't get it, but it's a good rootsy rocker from 2003. And yet another song that references "Crimson and Clover."

"Little Mona Lisa laying by my side
"Crimson and Clover" pullin' overtime
Seem too close to be losin' touch
By givin' in, what am I givin' up
Am I losin' way too much

California waiting
Every little thing's gotta be just right
While you're tryin' to save me
Can't I get back my lonely life"
The Kinks Celluloid Heroes A 1972 maudlin nostalgic classic from one of England's best and most influential bands.

"Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star
And everybody's in show biz, it doesn't matter who you are.

And those who are successful,
Be always on your guard,
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

You can see all the stars as you walk along Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognise, some that you've hardly even heard of,
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

Oh celluloid heroes never feel any pain
Oh celluloid heroes never really die."
The Knitters Dry River The Knitters are a roots rock (or even alt/country) band formed in 1982 by John Doe, Xene Cervenka, and DJ Bonebrake, 3 of the 4 four members of the punk group X, along with Dave Alvin of The Blasters, and stand up bassist Jonny Ray Bartel. They put out one album, then waited more than 20 years to release their second one "The Modern Sounds of the Knitters," where this song comes from. The river is the LA river, star of many Hollywood car chase scenes.

"I was born by the river
it was paved with cement.
I was born by the river
it was paved with cement.

Still I'd stand in that dry river
and dream that I was soakin' wet.

Some day it's gonna rain
Some day it's gonna pour
Some day that old dry river
It won't be dry any more.
... ... ... ...
Fell in love with a woman
but she did not fall for me.
I fell in love with you baby
but you did not fall for me

Now I'm dry as that old river
and I'm as dead as those old trees"
Kris Kristofferson Me and Bobby McGee His girlfriend Janis Joplin had the hit, but Kristofferson wrote it and sings it best. After thumbing a ride across the country, singing songs and all that, he goes and lets her get away near Salinas. I always wondered why she picked Salinas. Monterey, maybe, or Big Sur, but Salinas? Maybe she was a Steinbeck fan...

"From the coal mines of Kentucky to the California sun,
Bobby shared the secrets of my soul,
Standin' right beside me through everythin' I done,
And every night she kept me from the cold.
Then somewhere near Salinas, lord, I let her slip away,
She was lookin' for the love I hope she'll find,
Well I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday,
Holdin' Bobby's body close to mine."
The Ladybug Transistor California Stopover A song from 2007 by a Brooklyn based Indie pop band with some country twang. I have no idea what the chorus means.

"Tell me there's no room left to reason
And say it now if you dare.
Lies, all these lies
But I do hope that you still care.
Time, precious time
That I do hope that you can spare.

California, stop on over
California, stop on over
California, stop on over
Langhorne Slim Say Yes Upbeat American Indie folk rock from 2009 by Sean Scolnick from Langhorne Pennsylvania.

"Darling, nobody plans it this way.
We're floating or falling
We're gonna land either way.

Put on your blue lipstick
and I'll put on my Venus boots.
We're in California
But it might as well be the moon.

Say yes
Say yes
Say yes"
Led Zeppelin Going to California This is the folksy acoustic side of Zeppelin from 1971. Here we have more girls with flowers in their hair and other unattainable things. Some say it's about Joni Mitchell.

"Spend my days with a woman unkind
Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine
Made up my mind, make a new start
Goin' to California with an achin' in my heart
Someone told me there's a girl out there
With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair"
LL Cool J Going Back to Cali Before appearing on sit coms and Sesame Street, LL Cool James made this hard-boiled jazzy horn-filled hip hop hit back in 1989, that still sounds as good today as it did then. His Califorinia is all about shiny black Corvette convertibles and beautiful girls in small bikinis and tall heels. No wonder he's going back.
Notorious B.I.G. made his own very X -rated version, too.

"I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali
I'm going back to Cali.. hmm, I don't think so
I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali
I'm going back to Cali.. I don't think so

Going back to Cali, stylin, profilin
Growlin, and smilin, while in the sun
The top is down, on the black Corvette
And it's fly, cause it's sittin on Dayton's
Laurents steering wheel, plushed out, gold-leaf phantom top
and three girls waiting
VRRRROOM engine's blowin, the chrome, is shining
Passing all the cars on the way
Movement of the wind, back wheels spin
Pop in a cassette and push play

I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali
I'm going back to Cali - yea y'all, I don't think so
I'm going back to Cali, Cali, Cali
I'm going back to Cali.."
Local H California Songs Finally, a song about how there are too many California songs!
I totally agree. At least, too many bad California songs, a few of them listed here, just for fun. This song is from 2004 and the band is from Chicago, so they even throw in a gratuitous dig at New York. Bicoastal haters is what they are.

"Well I got your late night call
You're in the center of it all
You're havin’ a ball
And your really doin’ fine
A west coast time
And I believe you

But here’s one for the coast
The people with the most
The pretty, pretty folks
The west coast folks
Yeah here’s one for the coast
The people with the most
The pretty, pretty folks
The west coast folks

And here we go again
It’s never gonna end
We’re all so sick of California songs
Yeah we know you love L.A.
There’s nothing left to say
Please no more California songs
And f**k New York too

Yeah your heaven is a lie
Just more s**t that I don’t buy
Well they're headin’ for the coast
They’re movin’ out in droves
Sendin’ back reports on the radio
The message is the same
It’s getting pretty lame
California dreamin’s on the radio."
Rebecca Loebe California Wickipedia 11/13: "Rebecca Loebe is an itinerant American folk/pop singer/songwriter based in Atlanta, Georgia."
This song - just acoustic guitar and her voice - is from her 2010 album "Mystery Prize." After 6 weeks in an LA Hotel, appearing on "The Voice," it's no wonder she doesn't want to stay in Cali.

"Fell asleep in Hartsfield,
Woke up in LAX,
A bloody mary balanced on my knee.
Studied my reflection
Caught between two panes of glass
Right there on the plane.
California, I warned you I can't stay.

Alcohol and nicotine,
Caffeine and Hollywood.
Funny how they wear us down in time.
In the roughest of your water
The smallest of my stones
Grow smooth in every way.
California, I warned you I can't stay.
California, I warned you I can't stay.

How many stars
Align beneath your sun?
All of them ours but one?

California, how could I be more clear?
I was born for rocky soil
A coast away from here.
California, you're with me every day.
But I warned you, I warned you I can't stay.
California, I warned you I can't stay."
Low California There just aren't many songs about California when it's cold and wet.  After all, it's not all sandy beaches and palm trees.
Low is one of those indie rock slowcore bands, but this 2005 tune has a little more energy and tempo than a lot of their music.

"See your reflection in the mind
You keep your revelations wide
They knew just where to draw the line
You let them got you every time

Though it breaks your heart
We had to sell the farm
Back to California where it's warm"

It fell around you like the stars
You picked up everything they dropped
And though it breaks you like a song
You had some secrets of your own

And though it breaks your heart
We had to sell the farm Back to California where it's warm"
Luna California (All the Way) Upbeat guitar pop, the opening track on 1994's Bewitched, the second album from the now defunct Indie pop band fronted by Dean Wareham formerly the leader of Galaxie 500.

"Well, she followed him from Phoenix out to California
and then she passed out on the bed
and all the little things he never even asked her for
she simply smiled and shook her head

why can't we smile just like we used to
why don't you figure anymore
why has my sympathy now turned to malice
it doesn't matter any more

and now i realize i'm livin' like a trucker does
although i haven't got the belly
and though she followed me to California all the way
i only wanna watch the telly."
Lyrics Born The Bay Lyrics Born (formerly known as Asia Born) is a  Tokyo born rapper/songwriter who eventually ended up in Berkeley. This is from a 2005 album.

"Ladies and Gentlemen,
We will soon touch down in the beautiful Bay area,
Please lean your seats back, cut your turn tables up,
and always hold a firm and forthright position.
We ask that you permanently stow all of your baggage behind you.
With temperatures about like this, with a slight ocean breeze,
with crisp highs and deep lows.
It's been our pleasure serving it, and we appreciate you riding high for the team.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a new day in the Bay.

Where the people are intelligent, articulate, eloquent,
artistic, hard-working and diligent, both progressive and politically spirited(ed), definitely in possession of the ill-latent element, we hella independent,
more than a little bit critical of the political system,
and nobody bulls****in' the Bay, that aint the way we livin',
women got that smart-ass charm, so uninhibited,
they always catch us men off guard, but cool to kick it with.
We hold a certain love for our own, known as Bay-love,
but if push comes to shove we won't hesitate to raise up,
we aint afraid of funk, the bay was made of funk,
they say we help create the funk, baby take it from this native son.
I dedicate this one to every neighborhood on every side of each bridge,
Globally we known for bein' soulfully distinct, culturally rich, totally unique, emotionally I'm linked to the place I'm from,
that's why I named this one:

The Bay... The Bay...
The Bay... The Bay…"
Jeanette MacDonald San Francisco This is the old chestnut from the classic 1936 movie "San Francisco" starring Jeanette MacDonald, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracy, where it is played for what seems like half the movie, until the 1906 earthquake puts an end to it. It's a movie you should see at least once because it's very good up until the end when it becomes too cheesy even for a mouse.

"It only takes a tiny corner of
This great big world to make a place you love.
My home up on the hill
I find I love you still.
I've been away but now I'm back to tell you

San Francisco
Open your golden gate
You let no stranger wait outside your door.
San Francisco
Here is your wandering one
Saying I'll wander no more.

Other places only make me love you best.
Tell me you're the heart of all the golden west. San Francisco
Welcome me home again
I'm coming home
To go roaming no more."
The Magnetic Fields California Girls

The woman who sings this indie song from 2008 has a fewissues with the standard media images of women that she associates with California. She has a brand new battle ax that she wants to use on them. I'd watch that if it was on TV...

"See them on their big bright screen
tan and blonde and seventeen
Eating nonfood keeps them mean
but they're young forever
If they must grow up
they marry dukes and earls
I hate California girls
… … ...
I have planned my grand attacks
I will stand behind their backs
with my brand-new battle ax
Then they will they taste my wrath
They will hear me say
as the pavement whirls
"I hate California girls..."
The Magnetic Fields Come Back From San Francisco One of 1999's "69 Love Songs" from Stephin Merritt, in which a woman begs a man to come back from San Francisco,  and not get distracted by pretty boys in discos. Sounds like maybe he's discovered the Castro and she's barking up the wrong tree...

"Come back from San Francisco.
It can't be all that pretty,
when all of New York City misses you.
Should pretty boys in discos distract you from your novel,
remember I'm awful in love with you.

You need me like the wind needs the trees to blow in.
Like the moon needs poetry, you need me.

Come back from San Francisco and kiss me; I've quit smoking.
I miss doing the wild thing with you.
Will you stay? I don't think so,
but all I do is worry, pack bags, call cabs, and hurry home to me."
The Mamas and the Papas California Dreamin' Everybody knows this dreamy 1965 folk pop hit where the leaves are gone, the sky is grey, and the singers are dreaming of California where it's warm, with lots of harmonies, tambourines, and even a flute solo. It's been covered by a lot of musicians, including Bobby Womack, Nancy Sinatra, American Music Club, and Queen Latifah.

"All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day

I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day"
The Mamas and the Papas Pacific Coast Highway More '60s folk pop and another one about driving on the coast highway.

"Rollin' along Pacific Coast Highway -
Hummin' along to my radio.
Saw a blond hitchin' my way;
Rolled up and said "How far do you wanna go?"
She'd been hummin', thumbin', hitchin' and wishin'
For a good day on Pacific Coast Highway."
Mates of State
California "On the stereo
Listen as we go
Nothing’s gonna stop me now
California here we come
Right back where we started from
Pedal to the floor
Thinkin’ of the roar
Gotta get us to the show
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Here we come!"

Another one about driving and returning to California.
I first heard the Mates of States' 2006 version of this indie pop song before I found out it was a cover of the Phantom Planets song that was used as the theme to the OC, a primetime soap opera about beautiful and spoiled California kids, the kind who always seem to be a staple on TV. The Mates of States version is moody - the Phantom Planets song rocks a bit more.
John Mayall California A wonderful 9-minute-plus jazzy blues number with a great hypnotic bass line and a sax solo. Recorded live in 1969.

This is the sort of free-form music I first heard on the pioneer California "underground" FM stations - KSAN in San Francisco and KPPC in Pasadena during their few years of great independent programming before the corporations took control again in the late 60's and early 70's. Fortunately in 2011 we have stations like KEXP, WMFU, NPR, and others that can be listened to online, so non-commercial radio music programming is still breathing, and with Youtube, hundreds of independent music podcasts, and the streaming sites, it's much easier to discover good music today than ever before.

"Goin' back to California,
so many good things around.
Don't wanna leave California,
the sun seems to never go down...

so many things to be free,
that's where I wanna be."
(Frankie Beverly &) Maze Look At California Frankie Beverly relocated from Philadelphia to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1971 and his group Maze, playing a mellow soul style sometimes called "quiet storm," released their first album "Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly," which includes this song, in 1977. Samples have been used in a few hip hop versions including those by Mr. Shadow, The Scrayper Boyz, and Young Thugg.

"Look at California Look at California
Look at California Look at california

The rollin' hills seem to do something for you
It seems they're meant to be looked on by you
And when the sunshine is doing it's thing
Then you know that all you see is true
Every day every night the same old groovy feelin'
People that live a lot love a lot
And everything there is so good

Look at California
Look at California

All the flowers are bloomin' all about
Every kind you and I could think of
And if you see anything that's missin'
Then they make it up to you with love
Whether up or whether down
It don't even mean a thing
Look at the things around
The peace you've found
And all that you feel is so real Look at california

Look at California
Look at California
Look at California"
Scott McKenzie San Francisco This is the 1967 pop song that gave San Francisco bound travelers an important floral fashion tip. The song never sounded as hip as the era it described, but it was a massive hit and is credited with bringing lots of young people to the city. (It was also used as an anthem during Czechoslovakia's 1968 uprising against the Soviet Union. Who knew such wimpy pop could be so revolutionary?)

"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair"
Joe Dee Messina Heads Carolina, Tails California This was the first hit back in 1996 for this female country singer from Massachusetts, but it wasn't her last. 

"Heads, Carolina Tails, California.
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer.
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean.
Where? It don't matter, as long as we're goin'
Somewhere together. I've got a quarter.
Heads, Carolina Tails, California."

I always flip a coin when I'm thinking of driving thousands of miles, don't you? I also like to spin a globe and stop it with my finger pointing to where ever I want to go before buying a plane ticket.
Metro Station California Another let's-get-in-the-car-and-drive-to-California song from this L.A. pop rock band's 2007 album.

"What do you say we leave for California?
If we drive all night, we can make it by the morning
And, no one else will know if we decide to go, oh
What do you say we leave for California?

We could leave our friends
And we could be together
We could leave this town
If only for the weather

I could drive
And you could sleep
While the radio collides
To the sound of our heartbeats

What do you say we leave for California?
If we drive all night, we can make it by the morning
And, no one else will know if we decide to go, oh
What do you say we leave for California?"
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones To California A 2007 song from the Ska-Core band from Massachusetts. In this one, a guy decided to take the California trip, ran into some obstacles, but got there anyway, only to end up in the L.A. County jail.

"...To California.
He said that's where he'd find his fortune.
And where it's warmer
The weather's warmer and the girls are scorching hot.

He quit his job down at the diner.
And then he loaded up his SUV.
Just like a modern 49er.
Except for the Schlager and the PCP.

To California.
He said he'd make it there come hell
Or come high water.
He isn't doing very well.
He made it to Atlantic City.
To try to double what he brought.
Lost it to a voodoo girl named Kitty.
Totaled the truck out in the parking lot.

So he decided
He was determined not to turn back. No way.
So guess what he did?
Well he snuck aboard an Amtrak Train.

To California.
He said that's where he'd find his fortune.
And where it's warmer.
The weather's warmer and the girls are scorching hot.

To California.
Just got a postcard in the mail.
"Just to inform ya.
I'm the LA County Jail. Right now."
Missing Persons Walking in LA 80's New Wave female vocals meet Hair Metal guitars in this 1983 American pop hit about someone who is shocked to see a pedestrian while driving in LA:

"Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Could it be that the smog's playing tricks on my eyes
or is it a rollerskater in some kind of headphone disguise
Maybe somebody who just ran out of gas,
Making his way back to the pumps the best way he can.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A."
Joni Mitchell California A 70's folk pop hit in which Joni dreams of California because Paris is too old and cold and settled in it's ways, some guy on the Greek Isles stole her camera, and she gets lonely with streets full of strangers. (It sure must be hard to be young and rich with lots of time to travel...) She keeps saying she's coming home, but then she flies to a beach in Spain to get a tan. And all this from a Canadian.

"Oh, but California
California I'm coming home
I'm going to see the folks I dig
I'll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I'm coming home."
Keb Mo House in California Keb Mo, or Kevin Moore, is a Nashville-based blues guitarist whose been around for a while. This is off his 2004 Grammy Award-winning album "Keep it Simple." I don't think he'd have written the same lyrics after the housing bubble burst in 2008, especially in So Cal. More references here to good weather and earthquakes...

"He said, 'boy you got to be a big time actor or a corporate lawyer,
if you want to buy a house in California!'

Cause it don’t snow and it don’t rain,
ever’ day looks the same,
and before you pack your thangs,
let me warn ya’,
It’s the land of milk and honey,
but you better have good money,
If you’re lookin’ for a house in California!Well I got me a job, my wife’s got two,
kids flippin’ burgers at the local drive-thru,
We all doin’ everything we can,
we savin’ for a house in California.
Then one day the bank starts shakin’,
the sky went dark and the earth was a quakin’
Then o’r night, it became alarmin’,
how the price dropped on a house in California!
Well it needs a roof and it needs a floor,
yeah yeah, it’s a real fixer-upper,
Friends back east said somebody should have warned ya,
about buyin’ my big house in California."
The Mountain Goats Birth of Serpents A 2011 song with references to both herps and California from John Darnielle who started performing in Claremont, CA in 1991.
I think we've all seen those rooms with heat lamps and sweater boxes full of breeding snakes.

"Let the camera pull back till the fullness of the frame is clear and plain
Peer into the screen until you see it all like a vision in a crystal ball
Let it all fill with smoke
Is this somebody's idea of a joke?

Let the fixer work until the silver's washed away
And take the picture from the tray
Look hard at what you see and then remember you and me
And let the truth spring free
Like a jack-in the box
Like a hundred-thousand cuckoo clocks
From the Oregon corners to the Iowa corn
To the rooms with the heat lamps where the snakes get born

Crawl through the tunnel and follow, follow the light north west
See that young man who dwells inside his body like an uninvited guest
See the tunnel twist
Clutch your birth rite in your fist
Let the camera do its dirty work down there in the dark
Sink low, rise high, bring back some blurry pictures to remember all your darker moments by
Permanent bruises on our knees
Never forget what it felt like to live in rooms like these
From the California coastline to the Iowa corn
To the rooms with the heat lamps where the snakes get born"
The Mountain Goats San Bernardino One guy's voice and an acoustic guitar in this sweet song from 2008. The ending gives me the impression that they were driving there to give birth to their son. (But in the bathtub of a hotel? I don't knowwhat's going on...)

"We got in your car and we hit the highway
Eastern sun was rising over the mountains
Yellow and blood red bits
like a kaleidoscope

And flaming swords may guard the garden of Eden
But we consulted maps from earlier days
Dead languages on our tongues
Holding on to our last hope And the day was bright and fine
And the highway sign said, 'San Bernardino welcomes you'

I checked us into our hotel and filled the bathtub
And you got in the warm warm water
I pulled petals from my pocket
I loved you so much just then

And it was hard but you were brave, you are splendid
And we will never be alone in this world
no matter what they say
We’re gonna be okay

We were safe inside
and our new son cried,
“San Bernardino welcomes you”
The Move California Man The 1972 song by The Move (Roy Wood's band that became The Electric Light Orchestra) with a bunch of classic boogie rock nonsense lyrics about a party where the jive is really cool and he's a California man and can't stop dancing. Or something like that. A hit for Cheap Trick in 1978.

"Goin' to a party,
Meet me on after school.
Well we're goin to a place
Where the jive is really cool.

And if the band stops a playin'
There's a jukebox down the hall.
And with your blue dress on, your folks all gone.
You're sure to give the guys a ball.

Get that real guitar boy shakin',
I'm a California man,
Dance right on till the floors are breakin'
I'm a California man."
Mr. Shadow Look At California This version samples the Maze song described above. Mr. Shadow is a Chicano rapper from San Diego.
The Mr. T. Experience Gilman Street An upbeat fun punk classic from Frank Portman and his Berkeley band. 924 Gilman Street is an all-ages, not for profit, collective music club started in 1986 in Berkeley where no racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or major label bands are allowed, that is still in operation now, almost 26 years later. The song documents and parodies typical Berkeley grass roots democracy at the same time "you can vote on whether you're gonna vote," and turns it all into an anthem for all young punks and socially conscious do-it-yourselfers.

"Seems like it was only yesterday
nothing to do and nowhere to play
but we could go down to Gilman Street
and see Op Ivy every week
no violence drugs or alcohol
just maximum rock and roll
at Gilman Street
it's the place to be
it's the seat of the punk rock scene
cause we got the beat
and we don't eat meat
it's a club it's a place it's a thing

and if the band is hell of rad
Tim will start to bounce his head
all the kids will jump up on the stage
and they'll hit the microphone in your face
and you will get a fat lip
you will get a fat lip in the pit

at Gilman street
it's a safe retreat
for a zillion punk rock bands
cause they've got the club
and it's not enough
but at least it's not Bill Graham
it's Gilman Street

Radley does the sound
Honey watches the door
and James McKinney
sweeps the floor
Isocracy made a mess
we demand nothing less

and if you've got nothing better to do
there's a meeting every Sunday afternoon
you can talk about skinheads at the shows
you can vote on whether you're gonna vote
and you can make a speech
you can rant you can rave
you can preach
at Gilman Street
it's democracy
it's just one big family
it's a bunch of geeks
it's a load of freaks
it's a club it's a place it's a thing
it's Gilman Street."
My Morning Jacket One Big Holiday One of the best from this great great band from Kentucky, from their 2003 lp, "It Still Moves."

"Wakin' up feelin' good and limber
when the telephone it ring.
Was a bad man from California
tellin' of a stone he'd bring
and of better days.
From this town, we'd escape.
If we holler loud and make our way
we'd all live one big holiday."
Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack Mendocino County Line A sweet country duet from 2001 with Lee Ann Womack and the Country Music Icon. The sun sinking west of the Mendocino county line seems to signify the breakup of the singers' relationship, but I wonder if they know that the ocean is west of Mendocino county, so there's not really a county line there, just a shoreline? (Maybe they're in Lake County?) Whatever, it's a good line for singing...

"Counted the stars on the 4th of July
wishing we were rockets bursting into the sky.
Talking about redemption and leaving things behind
as the sun sank west of the Mendocino County Line.

Scarce as as Monday morning feeling washed away
I orchestrated paradise, couldn't make you stay
You dance with the horses through the sands of time
As the sun sinks west of the Mendocino County Line.

I have these pictures and I keep these photographs
to remind me of a time...

These pictures and these photographs
let me know I'm doing fine

I use to make you happy once upon a time
But the sun sank west of the Mendocino County Line."
Never Shout Never California Upbeat pop from 2010 recorded by Christofer Drew Ingle, who calls himself Never Shout Never.

"...I had the most amazing time last night
I dreamt I saw you again
That's when the flashback started to begin

They started slow
But they picked up fast
So I got off my ass
And I ran away
To Californ-I-A

[La La La La]

Oh my god I
Should've never let you leave my side
Should've never left you alone
It probably seems like I'm never coming home

But I'm so lost
Living life fast
Please get off your ass
So I won't waste away
In Californ-I-A

[La La La La]

Just so you know
I'm never comin' home
I'm having a great day [Great Day]
In Californ-I-A

[La La La La]"
New Amsterdams From California A 2003 release by the Lawrence Kansas indie pop band started by Matthew Pryor of The Get Up Kids.

"I hope that you know this is killing me
It's all in the name of the family
We only can play the cards the dealer dealt us
The end of the cycle is closing in
With you I see new hope begin again
There suddenly seems to be promise in California

La da la da da da da da da da da da da (repeat)

As heavy as all this is weighing me
Believe in the words I am promising
I'm still here for her
The distance is only an obstacle
Hardly a match for a miracle
I'm finally ready to go to California"
Randy Newman I Love L.A. I'm not crazy about this song, but I could never understand if this song is a satire or was commissioned by the LA City Council. Many of Newman's other songs are satirical, and there's some of that here - New York is too cold and the people dress like monkeys and Chicago is for Eskimos. But mostly, it seems he just loves driving around L.A.

"Look at that mountain
Look at those trees
Look at that bum over there, man
He's down on his knees
Look at these women
There ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere

Century Boulevard (We love it)
Victory Boulevard (We love it)
Santa Monica Boulevard (We love it)
Sixth Street (We love it, we love it)

I love L.A.
I love L.A.
(We love it)"
Joanna Newsom In California Newsom is an amazing singer-songwriter from Nevada City with a harp, an unusual voice, and weird and often incomprehensible lyrics that I'm not going to try to deciper. Here are some of them from this song released in 2010:

"My heart became a drunken (?)
on the day I sunk in this shunt
to tap me clean
of all the wonder
and the sorrow i have seen
since I left my home
my home on the old milk lake
where the darkness does fall so fast
it feels like some kind of mistake
just like they told you it would
just like they told you it would
... ... ... ...
and if you come and see me
you'll upset the order
you cannot come and see me
for I set myself apart
but when you come and see me
in California
you cross the border of my heart...."
N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton Ice Cube is angry and nasty in this classic 1988 rap song that probably didn't exactly put Compton on anybody's travel itinerary back in the day. But now Ice Cube is acting in sit-coms, so it looks like he got straight and got outta Compton after all.

"Ain't no tellin when I'm down for a jack move
Here's a murder rap to keep yo dancin
with a crime record like Charles Manson
AK-47 is the tool
Don't make me act the m……….. fool
Me you can go toe to toe, no maybe
I'm knockin niggaz out tha box, daily
yo weekly, monthly and yearly
until them dumb m……….. see clearly
that I'm down with the capital C-P-T
Boy you can't f... with me
So when I'm in your neighborhood, you better duck
Coz Ice Cube is crazy as f...
As I leave, believe I'm stompin
but when I come back, boy, I'm comin straight outta Compton"
Oak Ridge Boys  All the Gold in California Thick harmonies and a cautionary message about California fame and fortune from this long-running country gospel group.

"All the gold in California,
is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills,
in somebody else's name.
So if you dreaming,
about Californias,
it don't matter at all,
where you've played before.
California is a brand new game.

Tryin'to be a hero,
winding up a zero,
can scar a man forever,
right down to your soul.
Living on the spotlight,
can kill a man outright.
'Cause everything that glitters is not gold."
Connor Oberst Sausalito Bright Eyes considers moving west and living on a houseboat in Susalito in this 2008 indie song. I hope he brings plenty of cash - it's in Marin County after all.  And he should get a kayak .It's a good place to paddle.

"We should move to Sausalito,
Living's easy on a house boat.
Let the motion rock us back and forth to sleep.
And in the morning when the sun rise
Look in the water, see the blue sky.
As if heaven has been laid there at our feet.
So we remain between these waves,
sheltered for all our years.
While bikers glide by highway shrines,
Where pilgrims disappear.
Where time takes icebergs,
Where fields burn westward,
Where pilgrims disappear."
Phil Ochs Tape From California Ochs was a protest singer in the 60's who helped to start the Yippies then wore a gold lame jacket and pretended to be Elvis onstage then became depressed and mentally unstable and killed himself.
This is a long story song, from the 1968 album "Tape from California," but we never really find out what will be on that tape. Maybe it's this song...

"Who's that coming down the road
A sailor from the sea
He looks a lot like me
I'd know him anywhere, had to stare

Feathers at his fingertips
A halo 'round his spine
He must have lost his mind
He should be put away, right away

In the corner of the night
He handed me his water pipe
His eyes were searching
Deep inside my head, here's what he said

Sorry, I can't stop and talk now
I'm in kind of a hurry anyhow
But I'll send you a tape from California

New York City has exploded
And it's crashed upon my head
I dove beneath the bed
Fighting, biting nails, turning pale

The landlord's at my window
And the burglar's at my door
I can't take it anymore
I guess I'll have to fly, it's worth a try

Someone's banging on the wall
But there's no party to recall
The singer of the shadows of his soul
So he's been told

Sorry, I can't stop and talk now
I'm in kind of a hurry anyhow
But I'll send you a tape from California…"
Angel Olsen California

Angel Olsen is a singer-songwriter originally from St. Louis then Chicago. Cali omy least favorite of her songs. She sings it with a very unusual style with lots of voice cracks that takes some getting used to, but definitely check out her other songs such as "The Sky Opened Up" from 2012. "California" is the B-side of her 2013 single "Sleepwalker."

"on the way to california
and i don't mean california literally
i was thinking, it's so comforting quiet

you read so softly over my head
it's late but i'm maintaining interest in the things that you say
i could listen to you speak all day

in the silence dripping wet with
kisses running down my lips
could be just a good friend
who knows at this point anyway

there's just something about the way you surrender your eyes
without this barrier of bodies, we'd already be inside

on the way to calfornia
and i don't mean california literally
i was thinking, i was thinking, i'm not dreaming
not this time anyway…."

Roy Orbison California Blue A song co-written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, released postumously in 1989 on the last album recorded by the late great tenor from Texas who began recording in the mid 1960's and produced such classics as In Dreams, Only the Lonely, Crying, In Dreams, and Oh, Pretty Woman. This one expresses the pain and loss and yearning present in most of his songs.

"Working all day And the sun don't shine
Trying to get by And I'm just killing time
I feel the rain Fall the whole night through
Far away from you California Blue

California Blue Dreaming all alone
Nothing else to do California Blue
Everyday I pray I'll be on my way
Saving love for you California Blue

One sunny day, I'll get back again
Somehow, someway But I don't know when
California Blue California Blue

Living my life With you on my mind
Thinking of things That I left far behind
It's been so long Doing all I can do
To get back to you California Blue...."
Mike O'Rourke California's Callin' Me Mike O'Rourke sent me a copy of his song which evokes the 60's Beach Boys sound.

"I'm on my way to California
To maybe somewhere near LA
I'm on my way to Calfornia
The sun is out and there I'm gonna stay

California's callin' me California's Callin' me

Oh way out west under a blue sky
The ocean mist it fills the air
I'm on my way to find that blue sky
Where I won't have a worry or a care
I won't have a care

California's callin' me California's callin' me

I never thought I'd get to go
And leave behind the falling snow

I'm on my way to California
Things they should be brighter from now on
Things they should be brighter from now on

And I can hear the ocean's roar
Lying right outside my door

I'm on my way to California
To chase that dream I hold so dear
And when you think of California
Think of me darlin' whishing that you were here

California's callin' me California's callin' me
California's callin' me California's callin' me"
Buck Owens and The Buckaroos Streets of Bakersfield Written by Homer Joy and first released in 1973. Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens had a 1988 hit with the song. Owens was a singer and guitarist. He and his band The Buckaroos were the pioneers of the "Bakersfield Sound" and racked up 21 number 1 country hits.

"I came here looking for something
I couldn't find anywhere else
Hey, I'm not tryin' to be nobody
I just want a chance to be myself

I've spent a thousand miles of thumbin'
Yes, I've worn blisters on my heels
Tryin' to find me something better
Here on the streets of Bakersfield

Hey, you don't know me but you don't like me
Say you careless how I feel
'Cause how many of you that sit and judge me
Ever walked the streets of Bakersfield

Spent some time in San Francisco
I spent a night there in the can
They threw this drunk man in my jail cell
I took fifteen dollars from that man

Left him my watch and my old house key
Don't want folks thinkin' that I'd steal
Then I thanked him as he was leaving
And I headed out for Bakersfield…"
Owl City West Coast Friendship By request: from "Maybe I'm Dreaming" the 2008 debut album by Owl City, an electonic pop project from Adam Young of Minnesota. A very catchy chorus on this one.

"Aloha, my happy west coast friends
Do you feel alive
When the breaking waves arrive
And wash all around you
The beach homes and ocean side
Are quite well known by the evening tide
And we can sleep where we reside
With redwoods around us
The blue air is up there
And could I bring it down
I bottle it up and save it for a sweet summer night

I bought a one way ticket
Cause I knew I'd never see the ground
Unless I was aboard a jet plane
And we were going down
When I wiped the tears from my eyes
The warm water took me by surprise
And I woke up beside the ocean
I realized I must be in California
I must be in California

Am I awake or is this just a dream?

The new year is out here
And I will make a lovely list
Of your charms
So I'll never feel alone in your arms
I must be in California
I must be in California
I must be in California"
Ozomatli City of Angels A 2007 song from the L.A.Latin hip hop rock band that is not afraid to throw in shout outs to their high school or to Manicheism.

"What you know about my city that's tic tac?
Hustle to get stacks
Fail get laughed at
Even from here I hear the chit chat
Grew up Miracle Mile
Fairfax to tar traps, Hamilton High alumni
What you know Ham and cheese supreme
JB to Carthay cat LA it be the base and the catalyst
Walk Crescent Heights worldwide back to strangle us
Land of the saint and the land of the wicked
Hollywood to Bell
The Manichean kick it
What a duality, arid reality
Devon Brown Shot
Minor technicality
Brad Pits cheatin' front page reality
Stanley Miller Beatin'
DA don't want to touch it
But I love my city
Soft yet rugged
Rep LA I know the Angels will love it

City of angels! "
Van Dyke Parks Palm Desert Parks' career as a singer-songwriter, actor, composer, producer, and author has been amazingly prolific. He wrote some lyrics with Brian Wilson for the Beach Boys' Smile album and played with the Byrds, etc. Born in Mississippi, he moved to LA to become a Beatnik. This is a very weird song from "Song Cycle" his first album, released in 1968.

"By Palm Desert
to market to buy.
Tenderfoot up to date
palms of the real estate.

By Palm Desert
springs often run dry.
I came west unto Hollywood,
never-never land.

Juxtaposed to B.B.D. and O.
Beyond San Fernando
on hillside manors
on the banks of toxicity
those below and those above the same.

Dreams are still born
in Hollywood I don't understand.
Just suppose the youngster knows
he's had a good deal of fortune
and up through the babble
on the fair banks complicity,
buy your leave or stay beyond the game.

Palm Desert
not fade away.
Palm Desert
I wish I could stay.
Palm Desert
sages abound.

So head your head
to the ground round.

Meanwhile in the wild west
of Hollywood age is losing hold.
Inasmuch as you are touched
to have withstood
by the very old search
for the truth within
the bounds of toxicity.
Left unsung
so I have strung the frame."
Gram Parsons California Cottonfields Another story about Okies heading for the promised land from the former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother who helped create the LA country sound of the 60's and 70's. Recorded live in 1973. Gram died in 1973 and his friends stole his body and cremated it at Joshua Tree near Cap Rock, where the National Park Service keeps removing any evidence of the location.
Emmylou Harris also does a version of this song.

"My drifiting memory goes back to the spring of 43
When I was just a child in mama's arms
My daddy plowed the ground and prayed
Someday we might leave this rundown mortgaged Oklahoma farm.

And then one night I heard my daddy
Saying to my mama that he'd finally saved enough to go
Californa was his dream of paradise
Fore he had seen pictures in magazines that told him so.

Californa cottonfields where labor camps are filled
With worried men with broken dreams
Californa cottonfields as close to wealth
As daddy ever came."
Pavement Two States These 90's Indie Rock gods are obviously from NorCal (Stockton) as you can hear in this 1992 song. Nobody in SoCal wants to split the state and give up all that water. Although now(2014) some venture capitalist wants to split the state into 6 states so Silicon Valley can rule them all. That would make a mess of this web site, so for that reason I urge you to Vote No!

"Two states
We want two states
North and south
Two, two states

Forty million daggers
Forty million daggers
Forty million daggers
Forty million daggers

Two states
We want two states
There's no culture
There's no spies…"
Pavement Unfair A regular tour of the state in this loud dissonant wonderful 1994 Indie rocker. Stephen Malkmus is better than most at screaming about things that don't need screaming about and making them sound worth screaming about.

"Down in Santa Rosa over the bay
Across the Grapevine to L.A.
We got desert, we've got trees
We got the hills of Beverly
Let's burn the hills of Beverly
… … …
Up to the top of the Shasta gulch
And to the bottom of the Tahoe lake
Man-made deltas and concrete rivers
The south takes what the north delivers
You film hack, i don't use your fade

Lost in the foothills of my pride
(Trick enduro? Trocadero?) say good night
To the last psychedelic band
From Sacto, northern Cal
From Sacto, northern Cal…"
Pernice Brothers PCH One Another song about the Pacific Coast Higway. This 2006 song from the grea Massachussets Indie rockers is a more realistic version of the need to go on a road trip.

"Let's leave on Saturday
Let's leave on Friday night
I can't promise
I'm not really sure we'll be all right

Pull the trigger, I don't care which myth I kill
Struggle through the S's, through the tunnels in the trees
through this sticky optimism hardening in me
It might do some good just to wake up by the sea
To the smell of breath and greasy hair and car seats

PCH One might be a catalyst, our panacea
Play the one where no one's really gone
Every answer's buried in a song
PCH One might be a mending kit
I need some mending"
Katy Perry
(featuring Snoop Dogg)
California Gurls It was impossible to avoid this massive pop hit in the summer of 2010. All the old California cliches are re-packaged here - greener grass, girls on the beach, palm trees and they even add some of Tupac's California Love electronic effects. Just be careful with your popsicle.

"I know a place
Where the grass is really greener
You could travel the world
But nothing comes close
To the golden coast
Once you party with us
You'll be falling in love
Oooooh Oh Oooooh

California girls
We're unforgettable
Daisy Dukes
Bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin
So hot
Will melt your popsicle
Oooooh Oh Oooooh

California girls
We're undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce
We got it on lock
West coast represent
Now put your hands up
Oooooh Oh Oooooh"
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers California Here's another song with an apocalyptic California earthquake reference. Petty's a Florida boy but he's got a thing for the golden state - also listen to "Into the Great Wide Open" and "Free Fallin'  for more CA references"

"California's been good to me
Hope it don't fall into the sea
Sometimes you got to trust yourself
It ain't like anywhere else
It ain't like anywhere else

There's time to roll, I'm all done
It's time we better hit the road
I got work later on
It's time we better hit the road"
Madeileine Peyroux California Rain Peyroux is a jazz singer-songwriter from Georgia who grew up in New York City, southern California, and Paris.This beautiful 2006 release is slow mellow jazz with a singing style reminiscent of Billie Holliday. In a refreshing change for a California song, she sings about being stuck in cold and rainy California, longing to go somewhere far away where she belongs.

"California rain is fallin'
I can hear the summer callin'
Far away, far away
A song that's fadin'

Put me on a plane tomorrow
I'll try to run from all my sorrow
Far away, far away
From endless waitin'

It's so cold here without the sun
I'm so sad here far away from everyone

What a fool to be ambitious
Moving here with all of my wishes
Far away, far away
From where my heart is

Shut the phone off and pack my bags
No more boys who boast and brag
Far away, far away
Where I belong

I'm so sorry for some things I've done
I'll be lonely till I can see my only one
... ... ... ...
I'm goin' back, back where I belong
Gonna catch a train
Gotta get back where I belong
Get back."
Liz Phair California
(Also titled "Why I Left California)
Originally from a 1991 self-produced 4-track "Girly Sound" cassette, the song is also on her 1995 Juvenilia EP and her 2010 Funstyle album. With a solo guitar strumming in the background Phair tells a dirty joke involving a young bull and an old bull on a hill above a pasture full of cows (the same joke Robert Duvall tells to Sean Penn in Dennis Hopper's 1988 movie "Colors.") Inbetween the joke, she sings the only line in the song several times:

"And I tried to tell you before that that's why I left California."
Phantom Planet California "On the stereo
Listen as we go
Nothing’s gonna stop me now
California here we come
Right back where we started from
Pedal to the floor
Thinkin’ of the roar
Gotta get us to the show
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Here we come!"

Another one about driving and returning to California.
I first heard the Mates of States' 2006 version of this indie pop song before I found out it was a cover of the Phantom Planets song that was used as the theme to the OC, a primetime soap opera about beautiful and spoiled California kids, the kind who always seem to be a staple on TV. The Mates of States version is moody - the Phantom Planets song rocks a bit more.
Pink Gone to California Slow, soulful, moody, and atmospheric, with some sax thrown in, Pink is leaving the mean streets of Philadelphia for the promised land where the sun is always shining in this 2001 song. Haven't we seen this before? Does it ever work out?

"I'm goin' to California
To live in the summer sun
The streets are made of silver
I'm like a rabbit on the run

I'm goin' to California
To find my pot of gold
I'm goin' to California
I'm goin far, far, far away
Goin' to California, yes
To resurct my soul
The sun is always shinin', shinin'
Or at least that's what I'm told
I'm goin' to California
There's a better life for me, yes..."
The Presidents of the United States of America F*ck California The guy who sings this 1994 song hates San Bernardino, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Guadalupe, even Weed. But he doesn't ever really say why he hates the state, and never bothers to mention the name of the Northwest city he loves - which is probably Seattle, but could be Portland. The band is from Seattle. I love the Northwest, too, so I might like the song if the music was better. (And Green Onions is an instrumental so how could they hear it sing?)

"I'm in the mountains
They're so beautiful and crystal clear
They scrape the clouds with their top
(and f*ck California)

And the air's so clear
I drink it in it makes me drunk
I fall down and fall asleep
(and f*ck San Francisco)
...  ...  ...  ...
I've been pounding up and down I-5
Highway wanderin's such a blast
If only I could erase L.A.
The trip woulda been so fast

This city is so beautiful
The clouds come out in the fall
And I love to see them back
(and f*ck California!)

Even on a cloudy day
The sun pokes through at the end
To make a little sunset experience
even though you're depressed
(and f*ck Santa Cruz)

Ohh I'm in Central Oregon now
Driving my little tin blue can
And I hear green onions sing
(and f*ck Guadalupe)

Green onions on the little stereo
And I feel like I'm going the right way
North way North, North, North, North, North!"
Propellerheads Take California Lots of heavy 1997 British beats and a canned voice that repeats "Take California." What more do you need? (I suspect the voice is a sample of someone important, but I don't know who.) According to Wickipedia this was the first song used in an iPod TV ad.

"Senator welcome to our microphones

Is there anything of yours that we can keep as a memento of this visit?

Take California
Take California
Take California
Take California
Take California"
Chuck Prophet

Temple Beautiful

(the song and the complete album)

Chuck Prophet released "Temple Beautiful," a song and an album of rocking guitar-based songs, in early 2012. The album is described on his web site as "...untimately an open love letter to San Francisco..." Check out all the songs, especially "Play That Song Again")

I remember driving by the Temple Beautiful with a girlfriend's parents in the early 1980's when they pointed out with excitement a building that was the Temple they attended when they lived in San Francisco many years earlier. I had to break the news to them that it had been turned into a theater where we went to listen to local punk bands. Fortunately, they never saw what it looked like inside...

"There she stood right next to me at the
Temple beautiful Someday, there's gonna be a revolution Till then, you need an eye on constitution
The lights came on it was a whole new world at the
Temple beautiful
I got the kid but I lost the girl at the
Temple beautiful

She got so excited
Manchester United
Her mind was dirty but her hands were clean at the
Temple beautiful

Everybody doing criminal acts
Temple beautiful
And now the future's here, but it feels like the past
Temple beautiful
I don't remember what happened last
Temple beautiful
Well we might've got high, we might've just left
Temple beautiful

Someday this is all gonna be gone
Temple beautiful"
Quasi California Two  minutes of 1998 indie rock from a Portland band. The depressed tour guide singer of this one thinks panhandlers should be kicked into the sea. I say we give him the first boot. You have to like the end line: "sinking in the vast ambivalent sea of California." That's why I stay out of the water...

"Life is full life is grey:
At its best it's just OK.
But I'm happy to report
Life is also short.
So I find myself back in California -
I'm a coolie for the tourists,
those happy Epicureans:
Evil spectres from my own suburban upbring.
As I reveal points of interest, I can chat so pleasantly,
But it's hard to be cheerful when you feel so hopeless
And there's no reason for this dark mood.
It will pass; it will return, but will I ever learn ?
And the children of privilege begging for my spare change.
Do they need my assistance to purchase their intoxicants,
or would they best be served a swift kick
Slowly sinking in the vast ambivalent sea of California."
Rascall Flats She'd Be California A 2009 song from the Ohio country band with yet another tanned blonde with a convertible. But this time they're saying if California was a girl, it would look like her, or she should be a movie star, or something like that.

"She got the long blonde hair
Got the red sports car
And you know she's got the
Top laid back
She got the movie star smile
Got the sun-kissed tan
Santa Barbara in summer
Yeah, she feels like that

Hey she's like a canyon drive
In a midnight sky
Those eyes are deep enough
To get lost
Her legs are palm tree tall
The way she walks
Like the heat on a runway
When the cameras go off

She's small town from the country
She ain't big time but she could be

Hey, Hollywood never looked this good
Bright as the big screen burns
Hey, I bet drivin' down Sunset
They're lookin' for a face like hers
Yeah, I've been all around this world
And she'd be California
If California was a girl"
The Ramones Warm California Sun Out there having fun where the days are short, the nights are long, the girls are "frisky in old 'frisco. A pretty little chick wherever you go." Take your pick - the Rivieras surf rock version or the Ramones punk rock version. They're both fun.

"Well, I'm goin' out west out on the coast
Where the California girls are really the most
Where they walk and I'll walk
They twist and I'll twist
They shimmy and I'll shimmy
They fly and I'll fly
Well they're out there a'havin' fun
In that warm California sun."
The Raveonettes Ode to L.A. A 2005 release from the Danish duo. This one has a Phil Specterish girl group sound with the heartbeat drums, the wo ho ho's, and an almost mono mix. And as usual, the theme is let's go to L.A. for the fun and sunshine.

"Come on let's go to where it's fun
I want a slice of L.A. sun
Whoa ho ho ho

...  ...  ...  ...  ...

So come along and pay the price
This ain't New York this tasty slice
Whoa ho ho ho

Take a minute listen to this town
Don't you ever feel you have to come
Take a minute she won't let you down

See you excited in her arms
L.A. and all her crazy charms
Whoa ho ho oh"
Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication The title of this song always reminds me of those bumperstickers on Oregon cars back in the 70's that said "Don't Californicate Oregon." It seems to be about phony Hollywood dreams, plastic surgery, unicorns, and a lot of other words that they fit in just to have something to sing - like most rock songs. Who needs lyrics that make sense as long as the music's good?

"It's the edge of the world
and all of western civilization.
The sun may rise in the East
at least it settles in the final location.
It's understood that Hollywood
sells Californication.
… … …
First born unicorn
Hard core soft porn
Dream of Californication
Dream of Californication"
Red Hot Chili Peppers Dani California This 2006 song isn't really about the state. It's about a poor southern girl named Dani California who robs banks and was killed in North Dakota. But she's got a good name, and it's a good song, and that's good enough for this lousy list.

"Gettin' born in the state of Mississippi
Poppa was a copper and her momma was a hippie
In Alabama she was swinging hammer
Price you gotta pay when you break the panorama
She never knew that there was anything more than poor
What in the world does your company take me for?

Black bandana, sweet Louisiana
Robbin' on a bank in the state of Indiana
She's a runner, rebel and a stunner
On her merry way saying baby what you gonna
Lookin' down the barrel of a hot metal .45
Just another way to survive

California rest in peace
Simultaneous release
California show your teeth
She's my priestess, I'm your priest
Yeah, yeah"
Red Hot Chili Peppers Under the Bridge Anthony Kiedis sings about the city of L.A. being his only companion and of using drugs under a bridge downtown. (Kiedis refuses to say which bridge it was, though one writer claims it was one in MacArthur Park, the same one where someone left the cake out in the rain.) A slow and emotional ballad about loneliness and drug use from the band's 1992 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik that came as a pleasant surprise from the super animated butt-flopping hard rocking band. It went on to be a huge radio hit and, with the help of a video directed by Gus Van Sant, helped the band break through to a huge new audience.

"Sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner
Sometimes I feel like my only friend
Is the city I live in, the city of angels
Lonely as I am, together we cry

I drive on her streets cause she's my companion
I walk through her hills cause she knows who I am
She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy
I never worry, now that is a lie.

I don't ever want to feel like I did that day
Take me to the place I love, take me all the way
I don't ever want to feel like I did that day
Take me to the place I love, take me all the way, yeah, yeah, yeah

Under the bridge downtown
is where I drew some blood
Under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
Under the bridge downtown
forgot about my love)
Under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away"
Release the Sunbird Always Like the Sun Release The Sunbird is a side/solo project of Zach Schwartz (a.k.a. Zach Rogue) of the Indie Rock band Rogue Wave from Oakland. This song is a very nice mix of acoustic instruments and harmonies with some background electronic effects. I don't know what it's about because I can't fully understand the lyrics and I can't find any online yet. But somebody was born on a Calfornia something (shore?)

"From the time that we were born
On the California (?)
When you wanted to be everyone
In the hour of your demise
You asked if you'd be fine
When you never would (?)

Well you're always like the sun
Always like the sun
Well you're always like the sun
(?) never was"
R. E. M. I Remember California A slow and moody1988 song from the great Athens, Georgia band, that I remember seeing in small crowded nightclubs before they moved up to playing stadiums. I doubt they remember that part of their time in California as fondly as I do.

"I remember redwood trees, bumper cars and wolverines
The ocean's Trident submarines
Lemons, limes and tangerines
I remember this

I remember traffic jams
Motor boys and girls with tans
Nearly was and almost rans
I remember this
History is made
History is made to seem unfair"
Leon Rene When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano Even though I could live without ever hearing it again, I guess I should mention this 1940 hit that was written by Leon Rene and recorded by Glenn Miller, Gene Autry, Pat Boone, The Dominoes, The Five Satins,The Ink Spots, Harry James & His Orch, Guy Lombardo, Carmen McRae, and many others. The link on the left is to the Pat Boone version.

"When the swallows come back to Capistrano
That's the day you promised to come back to me
When you whispered, "Farewell", in Capistrano
Twas the day the swallow flew out to sea

All the mission bells will ring
The chapel choir will sing
The happiness you'll bring
Will live in my memory
When the swallows come back to Capistrano
That's the day I pray that you'll come back to me"
The Replacements Left of the Dial "Pretty girl keep growin' up, playin' make-up, wearin' guitar
Growin' old in a bar, ya grow old in a bar.
Headed out to San Francisco, definitely not L.A.
Didn't mention your name, didn't mention your name.
And if I don't see ya, in a long, long while
I'll try to find you
Left of the dial."

The Replacements were one of my favorite bands to see live back in the 80's. The Minneapolis band was a staple on left of the dial radio stations then, and their music, and Paul Westerburg's solo work, still hold their own in the 21st century.
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers California Desert Party Richman was a trailblazer of minimalist rock and one of the progenitors of punk rock. Born in Massachusetts, he moved to California in 1975, where he obviously spent some time in the deserts. This song, with its upbeat rythm, handclaps, raunchy saxophone mixed in with a few doo wop background vocals, always makes me want to go sleep in the sand with the lizards and the cactus.

"Everybody's dancing 'round
in the cactus garden.
Yucca trees are all around
cholla, too, look out!
Guacamole's there for you
carrot juice and nachos, too.
... ... ... ...

California desert party.
Yeah, pack rats and kit fox
and petroglyphs and sleepin bags
California desert party.

They brought the harp and lyre,
they turned the hot tub higher
Yeah chaparral, and sagebrush,
and look out there's the sleepin bags
California desert party...."
Rihanna California King Bed From the title, I almost put this song on the Songs About Herps page until I learned that "California King" refers to a style of extra-large king-sized bed rather than a bed of snakes. Too bad - the image of Rihanna lounging on a big bed covered with kingsnakes is a hard one to get out of my mind...

"Chest to chest
Nose to nose
Palm to palm
We were always just that close
Wrist to wrist
Toe to toe
Lips that felt just like the inside of a rose
So, how come when I reach out my finger
It feels like more than distance between us

In this California king bed
We're ten thousand miles apart
I've been California wishing on these stars
For your heart for me
My California king"
Josh Ritter California Ritter is a singer-songwriter from Idaho. This is another song about going to California to warm up.(A space heater might be cheaper.) The singer knows it's been done a hundred thousand times but needs to do it himself. It's also probably been sung about that many times.

"Going out to California
gonna let the water warm my clothes.
I’m alone but I’m not lonely
gonna trade the weather for the Western coast.
No don’t cry
I’ll be back and I’ll
bring the sun to shine
in your eyes
on your shoulders.
Sunset Boulevard will strip for money.
Mulholland is a long drag for the lonely hearts.
Down along the Imperial Valley
runs a river of homelessness and cinema stars.
Don’t say
the trip’s been done
a hundred thousand times
cause this one
is mine.
So I will work at what work finds me
and I will take what comfort I can get
I’ll be back when I’m good and ready
California doesn’t seem to think I’m ready yet…."
Rivieras California Sun The original 60's surf rock version also recorded in the mid 70's by the Ramones.

"Well, I'm goin' out west out on the coast
Where the California girls are really the most
Where they walk and I'll walk
They twist and I'll twist
They shimmy and I'll shimmy
They fly and I'll fly
Well they're out there a'havin' fun
In that warm California sun."
Rogue Wave California Inscrutable lyrics with warm and fuzzy acoustic guitars.

"Screw California and friends that are never there and places that they ought to pretend that they even care from a false family. She could light you up like a holiday tree in the summer... and ice that will never melt from hearts of the modern children of Cicero... so lead us there."
The Rolling Stones Route 66 (See more under Nat King Cole's original version)

"It winds from Chicago to LA,
more than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six."
The Runaways California Paradise A 1977 song from the pioneering all-girl rock band with valley girls Joan Jett and Cherie Curie that rated their own music biopic in 2010.

"Turn up that radio
Hear the rock and roll
Malibu shines like summer gold
Wild beaches
In the salty wind
California summers never end

California - you're so nice
California - your paradise"
Saint Etienne Downey, California Atmospheric electronica and soft vocals from Sara Cracknell to chill you out in this 2000 release.

"Dream home
In Downey, california
Palm trees
The sound of Karen Carpenter
Mother's holding baby
Baby's getting restless now
Looking for her mother
Looking for her mother

You don't, don't want to believe him now
Don't want to
Don't want to see him"
The Scrayper Boyz Look at California This song samples the Maze version described above. The Scrayper Boyz are Hyphy rappers from the Bay Area.
Pete Seeger and Malvina Reynolds Seventy Miles A 1965 folk song about the sad state of the San Francisco Bay after many years of unregulated urban growth and unrestricted dumping of garbage and pollutants poisoned the water and filled in over 25 percent of the marshland. Save The Bay, one of the very first environmental organizations, active since 1961, eventually succeded in getting legislation passed that began the protection and cleanup of the bay (which is now home to one of the greatest concentrations of non-native species of any waterway with more than 200, and possibly as many as 400.)

"Seventy miles of wind and spray,
Seventy miles of water,
Seventy miles of open bay,
It's a garbage dump.

What's that stinky creek out there,
Down behind the slum's back stair,
Sludgy puddle, sad and gray?
Why man, that's San Francisco Bay!"
Ty Segall California Commercial Segall is a singer-songwriter from SF, member of several bands including Ty Segall Band, known for its psychedelic garage rock. This is from "Goodbye Bread" a 2011 release. It's repetitous and monotonous and really short.

"Come to California
Stay inside your house
Stay inside your head
It is nice outside
Come to California
Stay inside your head
Leave on a TV
Slip inside your bed
Stay in California
Never go outside
Things they are too nice
We'll stay until you die

I was gonna tell you
I remember names
Anything for fame, anything for fame
will you marry me?
You can be my wife
I have lots of money
You can settle for me
I still think you love me
I still think you love me
I'll invite our friends
Now come into our house
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Hollywood Nights Seger is an American rock singer-songwriter from Detroit who had many hits, including this one, form his 1978 album "Stranger in Town."

"She stood there bright as the sun on that california coast
He was a midwestern boy on his own
She looked at him with those soft eyes,
So innocent and blue
He knew right then he was too far from home he was too far from home

She took his hand and she led him along that golden beach
They watched the waves tumble over the sand
They drove for miles and miles
Up those twisting turning roads
Higher and higher and higher they climbed

And those hollywood nights
In those hollywood hills
She was looking so right
In her diamonds and frills
All those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
She had all of the skills
... ... ...
And those hollywood nights
In those hollywood hills
It was looking so right
It was giving him chills
In those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
With a passion that kills"
Marlena Shaw
California Soul A poppy soul tune with too many strings written by Ashford and Simpson and released by Marlena Shaw in 1969. This song has been used in movies and commercials, and sampled in rap songs. For a completely soulless version, check out the Fifth Dimension's 1968 release.

"Like a sound you hear
That lingers in your ear
But you can't forget
From sundown to sunset

It's all in the air
You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do
It's gonna grab a hold on you

California soul, California soul
They say the sun comes up every morning
And if you listen carefully
The winds that ride on the high time
Whistle a melody
And so the people started to sing
And that's how the surf gave birth untold
California soul, California soul"
She & Him Home A 2010 release from M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, the film actress with Anime eyes and the TV Sit Com who was married to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie etc. Her music is a bit too sacharine for me - it comes across as overproduced cheezy pop without any irony. But the critics love them so maybe I'm missing something. (M. Ward's solo music, on the other hand, and his work with the Monsters of Folk is much better.)

"California is a great big nation of one
They never knew what they wanted til it was already gone
What do they do with the light in the morning when they wake up alone?  They just go home

They just go home Youre the nicest, nicest boy I've ever met
and then I think about you then I think about you again
And again

Why don't we just sit and stare and do nothing?
Nothing at all for a while I like the way you smile
I could be your state and I could be your nation
It doesn't get better than home, now does it?
Doesn't get better than home, now does it?"
Michelle Shocked Come a Long Way An upbeat 1992 folk rocker from the American Alt Folk singer-songwriter who sings about driving her motorcycle around L.A.

"I kicked in his door at 5 AM
'I've come for my bike' I told the repo man
My 920's gonna take me far today
You can travel for miles and never leave L.A.
… … … … ...
I gunned it down to San Pedro Bay
Watched my ship sail in, watched it sail away
The sun was sinking into the sea
But a ball of fire inside of me
Was burning my motor and driving me hard
Past the big hair on the Boulevard
And up Mulholland where I made the scene
Like the one that took little Jimmy Dean

And then I shimmied up Wilshire like a little silk worm
Past the rodeo and the pachyderm
And then I stopped for coffee at an art cafe
I saw the repo man and made my getaway
Doing the Eagle Rock
Heading for the hills
Try and let my engines cool
And it's not my fault that this town shakes
I saw the falling rocks and I hit my brakes

I've come a long way, I've come a long way
I've gone 500 miles today
I've come a long way, I've come a long way
And never even left L.A."
Frank Sinatra California Sinatra should need no introduction. This song is off "The Reprise Collection" recorded in 1963 and sounds like it is auditioning to be the state anthem or something.

"I've known her valleys, I've known her mountains
Her missions and her courtyards and her fountains
The giant redwoods towering in the skies of her
That grow as though as they know they show the size of her

I've often wandered her farthest reaches
Her deserts and her snow and, yes, her beaches
A land that paradise could well be jealous of
That's California, California, blessed by heaven from above
That's California, land I love."

Frank Sinatra

(Also sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and many others.)

The Lady is a Tramp This Rodgers and Hart pop Classic from the 1937 musical Babes in Arms isn't a California song, but it does have an interesting lyric about the state - an ironic twist on the usual image of sunny California. Women usually sing the song in the first person.

"She loves the free, fresh wind in her hair
Life without care
She's broke, and it's o'k
She hates California, it's cold and it's damp
That's why the lady is a tramp"
Nancy Sinatra California Dreamin' Nancy's weird orchestral/acoustic version of this song is one of the best. It's originally by the Mamas and the Papas, which you can see above.
The Sir Douglas Quintet Mendocino In this 1969 rock classic, after thanking all his friends for all the beautiful vibrations, the singer pleads with his teeny bopper lover to stay with him in his love house by the river where life's such a groove you blow your mind in the morning. Can you dig it?
(Yes, they really sing "Can you dig it?" And it is dug.)

"Teeny Bopper, my teenage lover
I caught your waves last night
It sent my mind to wonderin'.
You're such a groove
Please don't move
Please stay in my love house by the river.
Fast talkin' guys with strange red eyes
Have put things in your head
And started your mind to wonderin'
I love you so, please don't go
Please stay here with me in Mendocino.
Mendocino, Mendocino,
Where life's such a groove
You blow your mind in the morning.
We used to walk through the park,
Make love along the way in Mendocino."
The 6ths San Diego Zoo How can you not like a song with such good driving directions? Another one by Stephin Merritt, the musical genius behind the Magnetic Fields and the 6ths and more. This one is sung by singer-songwriter Barbara Manning.

"Met you on a traffic island
We were there all day
In the middle of the world's highway
Summer left its light green lipstick on our faces
Took us to all the pretty places

Highway 405 will take you from the boom boom room
to interstate 5 which goes right to the San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo San Diego Zoo
How could I have ever left you?"
Phoebe Snow San Francisco Bay Blues This folk blues song was written by Jesse Fuller and covered by many people, including Bob Dylan, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Richie Havens, Eric Clapton, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin.
Phoebe Snow's 1970's version is acoustic and jazzy.

"I aint got a nickel and I aint got a lousy dime.
She don't come back, think Im going to lose my mind.
If she ever gets back to stay, it's going to be another brand new day,
Walking with my baby down by the San Francisco bay."
Social Distortion Bakersfield A 2011 release from an Orange County cow punk band started in the late 70's about being stranded in Bakersfield. This would segue nicely into Creedence's "Lodi."

"Stranded here in Bakersfield
So close yet so far far away
Stranded here in Bakersfield
Your a million miles away yeah

So I walked out that lonely truck stop
With my head hanging down wondering
How in the hell I got myself into this mess
And more importantly
How I was going to get myself out of it

So I wrote a song for you baby girl
And I hope that when I return home
The locks ain't changed on the doors
And there's still a spot for me
On that big ole California king sized bed

Stranded here in Bakersfield
So close yet so far far away
Stranded here in Bakersfield
You a million miles away
Wont you come see me in Bakersfield
ohhhh I'm not a million miles away"
Social Distortion California (Hustle and Flow) Another one from their 2011 album.

"Well, I was born, babe, with nothing to lose
But the black man taught me how to sing the blues
Made a little life outta rock ‘n’ roll
And that crazy California hustle and flow

Take me down
Take me on down the line
Shake me down
Shake me on down the line

I went too fast with that rhythm and booze
Almost ended up dead like all those other fools
Everyone’s got some sort of ball and chain
What’s life without a little pain?"
... ... ... ... ...
Living in a Hollywood movie dream
And I’m still reaching for the stars
Life gets hard and then it gets good
Like I always knew it would

Running around like you’re front page news
Lonely eyes and your motorcycle boots
Tattooed heart and your jet-black hair
Running ‘round like you don’t care."
Social Distortion Highway 101 From 2004, another driving on the coast highway song.

"Take a drive baby up the coast, yea highway 101
I’ll pass Ventura and Santa Barbara too, just as fast as my motor runs
Gotta pocket full of memories, some happy and some are sad
Gotta girl standin’ by my side through the good times and the bad
...   ...   ...  ...  ...
I can still hear the mission bells and the train rollin’ through your town
Gonna leave this world behind, we’re Southern California bound

Listen to the boulevard, listen to the falling rain
I believe in love now, with all of its joys and pains
Follow the palm trees under the California sun
I believe in love now, I believe in love again"
Bonnie Somerville Winding Road Another nice folk pop song about travelling the road to California, which was included on the popular Garden State Soundtrack in 2004.

"And it's a winding road
I've been walking for a long time
I still don't know
Where it goes
And it's a long way home
I've been searching for a long time
I still have hope
I'm gonna find my way home

And I can see a little house
On top of the hill
And I can smell the ocean
The salt in the air
And I can see you
You're standing there
And you're washing your car
And I can see California sun in your hair"
Sonic Youth Expressway to Yr Skull Another anti-California Girl song from the band that was the "archetype" of the Indie movement of the '80s, off their 1986 "Evol" album. According to Michael Azerrad ("Our Band Could Be Your Life" 2001) Neil Young called this "the greatest guitar song of all time" in 1990 when the band opened for him on his Ragged Glory tour. Azerrad's description: "Moore sings the first line, dreamily, like some homicidal twist on a Beach Boys lyric. The song builds to a cataclysm...then back down to a meditative, after-the-storm feeling, the whole roller-coaster ride ending with a good three minutes of Moore and Ranaldo drawing sounds from their guitars like the music of the spheres..."

"We're gonna kill the California girls
We're gonna fire the exploding load
In the milkmaid maidenhead

We're gonna find the meaning of feeling good
And we're gonna stay there
As long as we think we should

Mystery train
Three way plane
Expressway to your skull"
Sonic Youth Death Valley '69 From 1985's "Bad Moon Rising" album, this song was co-written and co-sung by New York No Wave icon Lydia Lunch. Sonic Youth was obsessed with obsession, insanity, and violence, and the embodiment of all three - Charles Mansion, who hid out at the Barker Ranch ranch (now in Death Valley National Park) after the notorious Los Angeles murder spree until he and his followers were captured there.

"Coming down
Sadie I love it
Now now now
Death Valley '69
You're right
You're right
You're right
You're right
I was on the wrong track
We're deep in the valley
How deep in the gulley
And now in the canyon
Way out in the yonder
She started to holler
She started to holler
I didn't wanna
I didn't wanna
I didn't wanna
I didn't wanna
But she started to holler
So I had to hit it
Hit it
Hit it
Hit it"
Sonic Youth Pacific Coast Highway Beautiful, dissonant, and sinister noise-guitar-pop or whatever you want to call it from their 1987 album "Sister." Kim Gordon explores the dark side of the coast highway from a woman's perspective. This ain't the Mamas and the Papas' coast highway anymore....

"Come on get in the car
Lets go for a ride somewhere
I won't hurt you
As much as you hurt me
Let me take you there
Before the sun goes down
Come on give me your love
Come on baby all you have
I wanna take your breathe away
Come on baby
Just like that, you say
You make me feel so crazy
Come on get in the car
Lets go for a ride somewhere
I won't hurt you
You make me feel so crazy"
Spirit Topanga Windows Jimi Hendrix gave the guitarist the name Randy California, and they are one of the best and most forgotten LA bands of the 60's, so Spirit had to be on this list somewhere, so somebody requested I add this song about Topanga Canyon, which used to be a decadent countercultural haven, and hopefully still is. It's off their first album from 1968 "Spirit."

"watching the world through our Topanga window
seeing people running through their lies
the sun shines warm through our Topanga window
the cat lies sleeping waiting for the night

your time is going much too fast
you've got to slow it on down
or it won't last
and what we'll be will sewn in a past part
our Topanga window window window

people searching for a better season
trying to catch their moment on the run
always asking wanting what's low reason
what do you want when you just want to have some fun?

your time is going much too fast
you've got to slow it on down
or it won't last
and what we'll be will sewn in a past part
our Topanga window window window…"
Bruce Springsteen Rosalita Sure, he mentions New Jersey in every song, and cars, and girls, and guys with names like "Big Bones Billy" and this 1973 song has them all, but it's also got a little cafe in San Diego at the end of the highway run so it's on the list.

"My tires were slashed and I almost crashed but the Lord had mercy
My machine she's a dud, I'm stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey

Hold on tight, stay up all night 'cause Rosie I'm comin' on strong
By the time we meet the morning light I will hold you in my arms
I know a pretty little place in Southern California down San Diego way
There's a little cafe where they play guitars all night and day
You can hear them in the back room strummin'
So hold tight baby 'cause don't you know daddy's comin'"
Mazzy Star California Mazzy Star was formed in Santa Monica in 1989. This is a beautiful and minimal song with Hope Sandoval's atmospheric vocals, acoustic guitars, some faint keyboards, and some bongos in the background. The song is from Seasons of Your Day, a 2013 album, and the band's first since 1996.

"I think I’m going back to California
Summer distant and it’s all far way
It’s all far
It’s all far
Far away
I think I’ll drift across the ocean now
Clouds looks so clear in your eyes
Let me bring you on my
Let me bring you on my friend
I think I’ll fly across the ocean
I can watch the sky turning grey
I think I’m going back
I think I’ll go back
I think I hear the whisper of old best friend
I think I hear the bells ringing in the square
Sterophonics Have a Nice Day A 2001 song from the Welsh rock band. It's about the vacuousness of tourism and conformity or something like that. That's what they should expect if they're going to places like Pier 39.

"San Francisco Bay
Past Pier 39
Early p.m.
Can't remember what time
Got the waiting cab
Stopped at the red light
Address, unsure of
But it turned out just right

It started straight off
'Coming here is hell'
That's his first words
We asked what he meant
He said 'where ya' from?'
We told him our lot
'When ya' take a holiday
Is this what you want?'

So have a nice day
Have a nice day
Have a nice day
Have a nice day"
Stereophonics Plastic California A song from 1999 by the Welsh rockers that seems to be about their ambivalence regarding the tourist charms of Calfornia. Blackpool is a seaside resort on the northwest coast of England.

"Plastic California
Looks like Blackpool outta date
Some love some hate
It's all your competition
It's not my occupation true
But it's what you do
Some love some hate

I like pink architecture
Flip back my red striped deck chair
Prove we got nothing to prove
Gin stroke amnesia problems
Overhearing talk of Hollywood
We wish we could
Ya should
Some love some hate
Some love some hate

It's a beautiful place for nature
And all the beautiful people make it true
But you look good as you
Some love and some hate
Some love and some hate
Makes me feel great
Makes me feel great
I feel new
d'ya feel new, ha, ha
d'ya feel new, ha, ha
d'ya feel new, ha, ha
ha, ha
Well I'm pleased to meet you"
Sublime What I Got 1996 LA Ska punk from another short-lived band, victimized by a drug OD. Check out "Garden Grove" too.

"Life is too short so love the one you got cause you might get
runover or you might get shot
Never start no static
I just get it off my chest
Never had to battle with no bulletproof vest
Take a small example
A tip from me take all of your money and give it up to charity
Lovin's what I got
It's within my reach
And the sublime style's still straight from long beach
It all comes back to you you're gonna get what you deserve
Try and test that you're bound to get served
Love's what I got
Don't start a riot
You feel it when the dance gets hot"
Sublime Garden Grove "We took this trip to Garden Grove
It smelt like Lou Dog in the van
This ain't no reggae party $5 at the door
Get so real sometimes who wrote my rhymes
I got the microwave got the vcr I got the duece duece
in the trunk of my car
If you only knew that all the love that I found
It's hard to keep my soul on the ground
You're a fool don't you f... around with my dog
All I can see I steal as I fill up my garage
But my mind music from Jamaica
All the love that I found, pull over there's a reason
why my soul is unsound"
Sugarcult Back to California A 2004 ballad from the alterative rock punk pop whatever band from Santa Barbara. Seems like this guy is thinking about driving to California to make up with his ex girlfriend but realizing that won't ever happen.

"You’re gone
I’m miles away
Turning out your lights
Ten different ways I could end this night
Can’t do this anymore
Won’t feel you anymore

How long I’ll wait
Just to say goodbye, say goodbye

Leave it all the fights and all
Summer’s getting colder
Drive all night to hold you tight
Back to California
Days went by
We waited and I guess we’re getting older
We couldn’t win in the end."
Matthew Sweet Come to California Sweet released this one in 1997. It's got his typical high tenor and backed by rocking boogie guitars and bongos.

"Started with a rose, ended up a millionaress queen
In your new electric chair, sweetly sitting there building up
Watch your mind little bit, or you're gonna have to make believe

Flew into LA, caught a screening of your lifelong dream
Blew it in LA, now you're desperate to create your own scene
But watch your mind little bit, 'cause you're headed into the

Come to California (come to California)
Come to California (come to California)

ooooo oooooo ooooo

Come to California, baby let it all hang out
Come to California, tell us what it's all about
But watch your mind little bit, 'cause the future is beginning
Thirty Seconds to Mars City of Angels Thirty Seconds to Mars is a rock band from LA fronted by lead vocalist Jared Leto, who is also an actor and film director. City of Angels is off their 2013 album Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams.This song sounds a lot like U-2, partly because Steve Lillywhite was the producer, but also because Leto sings with the style and urgency of Bono. Leto says that the song is the story of his brother (drummer for the band) and his travels to Los Angeles to make their dreams come true. "It's a love letter to that beautiful and bizarre land."

"Lost in the City of Angels;
Down in the comfort of strangers, I...
Found myself in the fire burned hills,
In the land of a billion lights.

Bought my fate
Straight from hell.
Second sight
Has paid off well for a mother, a brother and me.

The silver of a lake at night;
The hills of Hollywood on fire;
A boulevard of hope and dreams;
Streets made of desire.

Lost in the City of Angels;
Down in the comfort of strangers, I...
Found myself in the fire burned hills,
In the land of a billion lights."

Songwriter: Jared Leto
Published by: Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
The Thrills Santa Cruz This Irish band took a summer vacation in Santa Cruz and ended up with several indie pop hits, including this one from 2003.

"Well tell me
where it all went wrong
And tell me
where you lost those damn songs
I can't say I was surprised
I heard a drink was involved

Oh you gotta be, oh you gotta be
Still living by the sea
Oh you gotta be, oh you gotta be

Cos Santa Cruz
you're not that far
Oh Santa Cruz,
no, you're not that far"
The Thrills Big Sur One of those 'baby please don't go' songs from the same 2003 album as "Santa Cruz."

"So much for the city
Tell me that you'll dance to the end
Just tell me that you'll dance to the end
do do do do do do do

Hey, hey you're the monkees
People said you monkeyed around
But nobody's listening now
do do do do do do do

Just don't go back to Big Sur
Hangin' around, lettin' your old man down
Just don't go back to Big Sur
Baby baby please don't go
Oh baby baby please don't go"
2Pac (Tupac Shakur) California Love From Tupac's last album, released in 1996 shortly before he was shot to death.

"Now let me welcome everybody to the wild, wild west
A state that's untouchable like Elliot Ness
The track hits ya eardrum like a slug to ya chest
Pack a vest for your Jimmy in the city of sex
We in that sunshine state with a bomb ass hemp beat
the state where ya never find a dance floor empty
And pimps be on a mission for them greens,
lean mean money-makin-machines servin fiends
I been in the game for ten years makin rap tunes
ever since honeys was wearin sassoon
Now it's '95 and they clock me and watch me
Diamonds shinin', lookin' like I robbed Liberace
It's all good, from Diego to tha Bay
Your city is tha bomb if your city makin pay
Throw up a finger if ya feel the same way
Dre puttin it down for

California...knows how to party
California...knows how to party
In the city of L.A.
In the city of good ol' Watts
In the city, the city of Compton
We keep it rockin! We keep it rockin!"
2Pac (Tupac Shakur) To Live And Die In LA Warning - don't let your kids listen to this one. According to vice president Dan Quayle, 2pac's music incites violence... Come to think of it, maybe Quayle was right...

"Katruple quitraple platinum" selling gansta rap from 1996 by Tupac, who might have lived in LA, but he died before his time in Las Vegas.

"No doubt... to live and die in LA
California - what you say about Los Angeles
Still the only place for me that never rains in the sun
And everybody got love.
To live and die in LA, it's the place to be.
You've got to be there to know it, what everybody wanna see."
Transplants California Babylon From the 2002 first album by the punk rock/rap group formed by members of the band Rancid along with musicians from Slackers and Blink-182.

"Waitress out dressed like nurses in bondage
Brought me the check, said I want you to sign this
Union boy standing next to the rastas
There’s gonna be a strike and you ain’t gonna stop us
Three men standing and they love what they do
You won’t see it coming, cause they wanna surprise you
Consider it done, they’re gonna stand right by you
American punks don’t care about you
Hollywood what you gonna do?
Hollywood what you gonna do?

Don’t say that you don’t understand
Don’t say that you can’t comprehend
Don’t say that you don’t understand, this is california babylon, my man...."
Tristan Prettyman California Girl A slow and moody 2008 rock song that start with acoustic guitars, then builds. From a female singer-songwriter out of San Diego. This time it's the California Girl who does the singing, but she's cynical and bitter and has learned her lesson. A nice change from Daisy dukes and bikinis on top....

"I'll let you fall in love with me
Show you how easy it can be
California girl of your dreams
Sitting by the sea shore
Soaking up the summer breeze

Never gonna fall, I'm never gonna fall
For that old trick again
Never gonna fall, I'm never gonna fall
For that old trick again

I can't believe I even came
Don't even know your name
Boy you know that ain't my scene
But you gotta play by the rules
If you ever gonna win the game

Never gonna fall, I'm never gonna fall
For that old trick again
Never gonna fall, I'm never gonna fall
For that old trick again…."
U2 California
(There is No End to Love)
From Songs of Innocence, 2014.

"Barbara, Santa Barbara
Barbara, Santa Barbara
Barbara, Santa Barbara (x10)

California, then we fell into the shining sea
The weight that drags your heart down
Well that's what took me where I need to be
Which is here
Out on Zuma
Watching you cry like a baby
California, at the dawn you thought would never come
But it did
Like it always does

All I know
And all I need to know is there is no end to love …"
Umberto Tozzi California A song from 1994 from an Italian pop rock singer. He sings it in Italian so I poured some of the Italian lyrics imore nto a web translator and this is what came out (I hope it makes better sense in Italian):

"Lights on you California
It is an America where there is you
I fly just for you California
Dreaming of those avenues of heaven downward
('re Like a carillon chimes are like a music box)
Boats with your name from the Mississippi
I remember you
They speak of you pictures of hippies
These were the years of the blue hair
They had me in those years of peace
From Hawaii and older
Take me with you you are my light
Both newspapers no longer believe
So many lies sell more"
The Undisputed Truth California Soul A 1971 Motown psychedelic soul cover of the song mentioned above by Marlena Shaw.
Unified Theory California A song from their 2000 album about the downside of the good life in CA from a rock band formed in Seattle made of ex Blind Melon and Pearl Jam musicians.

"Blue skies have chased me away from a simple life
Now I'm eating paper that's tasting funny
Out here in complicated
Slow, down, good, times
A cigarette and tea is all I had to eat
A metal band at scream was all I heard for weeks
Man this ain't easy, but I wish all my friends could see me
In California"
Vampire Weekend California English A nice upbeat tune with Afro pop guitar and drums and crazy use of autotune on the vocals, but you'll have to figure out yourself what California English means in this 2010 release, because I can't.

"Someone took a trip before you came to ski in the Alps
Your father moved across the country
Just to sunburn his scalp
Contra Costa, Contra Mundum, contradict what I say
Living like the French Connection, but we’ll die in LA

Blasted from a disconnected light switch
Through the condo that they’ll never finish
Bounced across a Saudi satellite dish
And through your brain to California English"
Loudon Wainwright III Grey in LA From the album "Strange Weirdos: music from and inspired by the film Knocked Up" from 2007  LWIII is a songwriter, folk singer, and the father of all those other Wainwright singers, including Rufous below.

"When it's grey in L.A. I sure like it that way
Cause there's way too much sunshine round here
I don't know about you I get so sick of blue skies
Whenever they always appear

And I sure love the sound of the rain pouring down
On my carport roof made out of tin
If there's a flood then there's gonna be mudslides
We all have to pay for our sin

And I suppose that they'll close canyon roads
And the freeways will all start to clog
And the waters will rise and you won't be surprised
When your whole house smells like your wet dog

When it's grey in L.A. it's much better that way
It reminds you that this town's so cruel
Yeah it might feel like fun when you're sportin' sunglasses
But really you're one more fool..."
Rufous Wainwright California Rufous is not a fan of the Golden State. Too much neon and too many surfers and part time models for his liking.

"I don't know this sea of neon
Thousand surfers, whiffs of freon
And big nights back east with Rhoda
California please
… … … …
Ain't it a shame
That all the world can't enjoy your mad traditions
Ain't it a shame that all the world
Don't got keys to their own ignitions
Life is the longest death in California

California, California
You're such a wonder that I think I'll stay in bed
Big time rollers, part time models
So much to plunder
That I think I'll sleep instead"
Tom Waits Hold On Another girl takes that California trip in this moody and beautiful 1999 song.

"They hung a sign up in our town
'if you live it up, you won't live it down.'
So, she left Monte Rio, son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun.
With charcoal eyes and Monroe hips
She went and took that California trip.
Well, the moon was gold, her
Hair like wind
She said don't look back just
Come on Jim
Oh you got to
Hold on, Hold on
You got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
You gotta hold on."
Dionne Warwick Do You Know the Way to San Jose? Nobody did cheezy '60's fem pop better than Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach and Hal David, as this 1968 hit proves.

(And just for the record, Dionne, just get on the 101 and head north. It'll take you right there.)

"Do you know the way to San Jose?
I've been away so long, I may go wrong and lose my way.
Do you know the way to San Jose?
I'm going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose.

L.A. is a great big freeway.
Put a hundred down and buy a car.
In a week, maybe two, they'll make you a star
Weeks turn into years. How quick they pass
And all the stars that never were
Are parking cars and pumping gas

You can really breathe in San Jose
They've got a lot of space. There'll be a place where I can stay
I was born and raised in San Jose
I'm going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose."
Doc Watson California Blues This is Doc Watson's version of the oft-covered song mentioned above by Merle Haggard. If you like yodeling with your slide guitar, you'll like this version.
Weezer Beverly Hills More biting social satire from these power-chord-crazy nerd rockers about a guy who dreams of living the good life, 90210 style. Weezer also does a song called "California." This one is better.

"Where I come from isn't all that great
My automobile is a piece of crap
My fashion sense is a little whack
And my friends are just as screwy as me

I didn't go to boarding schools
Preppy girls never looked at me
Why should they, I ain't nobody
Got nothing in my pocket

Beverly Hills... That's where I want to be! (gimme, gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills...
Beverly Hills... Rolling like a celebrity! (gimme, gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills... Look at all those movie stars
They're all so beautiful and clean
When the housemaids scrub the floors
They get the spaces in between

I wanna live a life like that
I wanna be just like a king
Take my picture by the pool
Cause I'm the next big thing

Beverly Hills... That's where I want to be! (gimme gimme)(gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills...
Beverly Hills... Rolling like a celebrity! (gimme gimme)(gimme gimme)
Living in Beverly Hills…"
Weezer California I don't know any other song shout outs to El Cerrito. Albany, anyone?

"Hoo hoo, I need your huggin
I'm here my fears close guarded
Youth costing less than the next flight
You love the beautiful West Side
The beach and gorgeous sunrise
Surfs up the waves are risin' high
I'm all alone I need you here in Santa Monica California


From here to Bel Air
The blue bus will take us everywhere
Everyone's happy everyone's all right
From Lomita to El Cerrito
Seven years up and down the West Coast
Surfs up the waves are risin' high
I'm all alone I need you here in Santa Monica
I'm all alone why don't you come to Santa Monica?"
Brooke White California Song An upbeat country California song from 2009 about California songs where everybody lives like they are living in the movies. From  what I remember of 2009, the movies were a blend of The Grapes of Wrath and Mad Max, with The Terminator in charge of Sacramento. (I lived more like an extra in Bladerunner.)

"America sang me all the way across Ventura Highway
I was chasing the sun, just chasing the sun
Walking up the boulevard, looking down and counting stars
Singing ladies of the canyon

Now freeway's frozen and the traffic's jammed
But I feel like I'm living in the movies, look at me

Hey, everybody has their song, everybody sing along
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
Hey, don't worry if you get it wrong
Don't you know that you still belong
Na, na, na, na, na, na, in a California song

The weather on the Golden Gate
And the sun sets on the Palisades
And the beach boys are looking at me
And I'm bought in to that perfect scene
That the Mamas And The Papas sing
I was dreaming, I was dreaming

And it's so funny how everybody lives
Like they are living in the movies like they're so cool"
Wilco California Stars On the 1998 Grammy-winning album "Mermaid Avenue," Billy Bragg and the band Wilco take turns writing new melodies for lyrics that the great folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie wrote but never published. In this one, Guthrie wrote about resting his head and dreaming his troubles away on a bed of California stars. Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett from Wilco put a beautiful melody to it.

"I'd like to dream
My troubles all away
On a bed of California stars

Jump up from my starbed
Make another day
Underneath my California stars
They hang like grapes
On vines that shine
And warm the lovers' glass
Like friendly wine

So I'd give this world
Just to dream a dream with you
On our bed of California stars"
Lucinda Williams Here in California A great cover of the Kate Wolf song discussed below by the amazing Grammy-winning country singer-songwriter off of a 1998 Kate Wolf tribute album. This is my favorite version of this song.
Gretchen Wilson California Girls In this 2005 Country reply to the Beach Boys, Gretchen is another hater of the unreal image of women depicted by Hollywood. Worst of all, those skinny little girls don't even eat fried chicken!

"I ain't never had a problem with California
There's a lot of good women from Sacramento to Corona
But them Hollywood types after a while wear on ya
Struttin' around in their size zeros
Skinny little girls no meat on their bones
Never even heard of George Jones

Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls
Ain't you glad there's still a few of us left.
That know how to rock your world
Ain't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle
Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls"
Nancy Wilson I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco (And I Don't Drink at All) Nancy Wilson is a Grammy-winning American song stylist originally from Ohio. This brassy nightclub jazz ballad is from her 1968 album "Welcome to My Love." In the San Francisco of 1968 I'll bet you could get high just breathing the air - in certain parts of town at least.  I vote that we retire the Tony Bennett anthem and use this one now.

"I'm always drunk in San Francisco
I always stay out of my mind
But if you been to San Francisco
They say that things like this go on all the time

It never happens nowhere else
Maybe it's the air
Can't reallly seem to help myself
And what's more I don't care

I'm always drunk in San Francisco
I'm never feeling any pain
So tell me why does San Francisco
Just like a lover's kiss goes, straight to my brain

I guess it's just the mood I'm in
That acts like alcohol
Because I'm drunk in San Francisco
And I don't drink at all."
Kate Wolf Here in California A well-known and often covered song by the San Francisco folk singer/songwriter (who died young of leukemia in 1986) from her 1981 album "Close To You"

"When I was young my mamma told me
she said 'child, take your time
don't fall in love too quickly
before you know your mind.'

She held me round the shoulders
in a voice so soft and kind.
She said 'love can make you happy
and love can rob you blind.'

Here in California
fruit hangs heavy on the vine.
There's no gold , I thought I'd warn ya,
and the hills turn brown in the summertime."
Bobby Womack California Dreamin' My favorite version of this song. Womack turned the Mama's and the Papa's old chestnut into a soul classic. (It was nicely used in the 2010 British film Fish Tank, also.)
X Los Angeles I wore out my cassette copy of this great LA punk band's amazing 1980 album "Los Angeles" while driving up and down I-5 between LA and SF back in the early 80's. Remember cassettes in cars? (Remember cds in cars?)

"She had to leave Los Angeles.
She found it hard to say goodbye to her own best friend.
She bought a clock on Hollywood Boulevard the day she left.
It felt sad. She had to get out."

She also seems to be a racist in the rest of the lyrics, so good riddance...
Neil Young California Sunset Neil Young with violins and pedal steel praising his adopted land and remembering the cold and snow he came from.

"I remember long ago
How I wondered where I'd go
While the blizzards, cold wind and snow
Pounded outside my window.
California sunset
Going down in the West
All the colors in the sky
Kiss another day goodbye.

Land of beauty, space and light
Land of promise land of might.
You're my home now and it's true
California, here's to you...."
Neil Young Hitchhiker In this candid autobigraphical song from 2010, Young recounts his life journey as a musician from Canada to California, and from  one drug to another.

"You didn't see me in Toronto
When I first tried out some hash
Smoked some then and I'll do it again
If I only had some cash
Only had some cash.

Then I tried amphetamines
And my head was in a glass
Taped underneath the speedometer wires
Of my '48 Buick's dash.
But I knew that wouldn't last.

Then came California
Where I first saw open water
In the land of opportunity
I knew I was getting hotter
I knew I was getting hotter.

But the neon lights
And the endless nights
The neon lights
And the endless nights
The neon lights
And the endless nights
The neon lights
And the endless nights
They took me by surprise
The doctor gave me valium
But I still couldn't close my eyes
I still couldn't close my eyes."
Frank and Moon Zappa Valley Girl Zappa and his 14-year-old daughter Moon had a big hit with this ironic lampoon of the language of teenage girls from the San Fernando Valley back in 1982. Unfortunately, it only popularized the stereotype and "Valspeak" slang until it seemed like every young girl sounded that way, and still does.

"Valley girl
She's a valley girl
Valley girl
She's a valley girl
Okay, fine...
Fer sure, fer sure
She's a valley girl
In a clothing store
Okay, fine...
Fer sure, fer sure
She's a...
Like, oh my god!
valley girl
Like - totally
valley girl
Encino is like so bitchen
valley girl
There's like the Galleria
valley girl
And like all these like really great shoe stores
I love going into like clothing stores and stuff
I like buy the neatest mini-skirts and stuff
Its like so bitchen cuz like everybodys like
Super-super nice...
Its like so bitchen...

On Ventura, there she goes
She just bought some bitchen clothes
Tosses her head n flips her hair
She got a whole bunch of nothin in there."
Warren Zevon Carmelita A quiet acoustic rock song from 1976 with a beautiful melody and a dark subject - the singer, a writer with a Mexican girlfriend, has a drug problem in downtown L.A. Linda Ronstadt and others have covered it, but Zevon wrote it, and I always give the credit to the songwriters, without whom, there's nothing to sing.

"Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town.

Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand."

And, of course, there are acoustic Spanish guitars. I think that's the law in American pop music - whenever you mention Mexico or someone with a hispanic name, you gotta have those guitars.

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