I'm a lifelong resident of California. I love it. We have a diverse culture, a diverse landscape, and divergent thinkers. It's become popular of late to bash the state as we struggle with a failing economy, foreclosures, and a government that can't seem to get it together. But I love it here. I'm fortunate to live in an area of the state where if I drive 60-90 minutes in any direction I find myself at the sea, the mountains, the desert, or the state capital. So this is my musical love letter to my state. I challenge you to do one of your own for your neck of the woods.
1. Goin' to California-Led Zepplin
This song started out about Californian earthquakes and when Jimmy Page, audio engineer Andy Johns and band manager Peter Grant traveled to Los Angeles to mix the album, they coincidentally experienced a minor earthquake. The song was first known as "Guide to California". Later the writers were inspired by Joni Mitchell's "California." Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were huge fans of hers.
California is a major travel destination. 322 million trips were made to and through California in 2009, according to the California Tourism Industry website. 79% of those trips were taken by California residents. I'm not the only resident that loves it here.
And since we're talking about Joni...
2. California-Joni Mitchell
Her pure contralto voice, open tunings on guitar, and major contributions to folk music make her one of the most admired female songwriters. Even though she is a native Canadian, her ties to California began in 1965 at the start of her career. Lyrically she hits the mark on this narrative of the times.
Southern California holds many famous concert venues that were hot in the 60's and 70's when Mitchell was at her peak. The Hollywood Bowl is one of the largest outdoor amphitheaters in the country. The Whiskey-a-Go-Go has been a staple of the Sunset Strip since opening in 1964. Joni made her debut at The Troubador in 1968. The clubs are all draws to this day.
3. California Dreamin'-The Mamas and The Papas
Michelle Phillips, singer from the group, recently explained that this song was inspired by her homesickness for her native state while the band was living in New York during a freezing winter. The second verse was inspired by Michelle's love of visiting churches. Despite the horrible allegations against John Phillips of late, I still love this song.
The influence of the Pacific Ocean generally moderates temperature extremes, creating warmer winters and substantially cooler summers, especially along the coastal areas.
4. California Girls- The Beach Boys
Say what you will about Brian Wilson, but I consider him to be the soul of The Beach Boys, not the Mike Love group that frequents county fairs. Brian is a genius songwriter and creator of that fabulous sound. Brian said the song came to him after his first LSD experience...hm. And really, don't we all wish we could be California girls....or have them in our lives?
There are over 1,000 miles of California beaches along the California coast and approximately 118 beach cities.
5. San Francisco(Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)-Scott McKenzie
The Summer of Love, hippies, sex, drugs, & rock 'n roll. John Phillips, of The Mamas & The Papas, wrote the song which was a hit for McKenzie in 1967.It became an anthem of the times.
San Francisco is the 4th most populated city in the state and the 12th in the country. With its landmark draws of the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Victorian houses, Golden Gate Park, and Fisherman's Wharf there is plenty to see and do. San Francisco is a big part of my childhood so it warrants another song.
6. San Franciscan Nights-Eric Burdon & The Animals
Eric Burdon captured the mood of the times in the city by the bay. The troubled times too. The spoken intro to the song was said to have inspired many teens/young adults to make the trek to San Francisco.
7. Bixby Canyon Bridge-Death Cab For Cutie
Singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard spent time at this locale in Big Sur,California walking in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac seeking inspiration. Kerouac wrote the book Big Sur which was an autobiographical tale of the nervous breakdown he suffered at a cabin in the area some years earlier.
Driving Highway 1 along the coast of Big Sur is an unparalleled experience. The crashing surf, towering redwood trees, jagged cliffs and rugged canyons are all part of this beautiful landscape.
8. L.A. Woman-The Doors
Jim Morrison's lyrics were said to be about his love of Los Angeles and awareness that the city, like every city, had two sides: the bright, sunny feel good side, and the dark corrupted side. Mr. Mojo Rising is a self-named identity Morrison made up by scrambling the letters in his name.
Los Angeles County recieves the most domestic tourism. Hollywood and Disneyland, along with southern California beaches dominate travel spots in the state.
9. California Blue- Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison's powerful soaring voice is classic in this simply written song. It expresses a desire to get back to California from wherever he was at the time. His unique style is admired by many in the industry and matched by few.
California has a much higher share of immigrants (27%) than the rest of the country (13%). Everyone wants a piece of California blue.
10. Hey Ocean!- A Song About California
While I was searching for youtube clips to include in this post I stumbled across this band that I have never heard of. I decided to include it because it's a fun video and I kinda like her voice.
The California coastline is stunningly beautiful. Many groups work hard to protect it. My dream is to retire in a coastal town with my husband and join in those efforts to maintain its pristine beauty for generations to come. We both find such peace in walking the beach, listening to the call of the gulls, and staring off into the horizon. I hope I can make that dream come true...