Monday, April 16, 2007

Top Ten Songs about California

One song per band. I exhibit a distinct NorCal bias that I'll defend til the death.

1. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay -Otis Redding
2. California Love -Tupac
3. Gene Autry -Beulah
4. San Francisco -Scott McKenzie
5. Big Sur -The Thrills
6. Goodbye California -Jolie Holland
7. Hotel California -The Eagles
8. Piazza, New York Catcher -Belle & Sebastian
9. California Stars -Billy Bragg & Wilco
10. Come Back from San Francisco - The Magnetic Fields


Guy said...

Dude! "California Dreaming" by the Mamas and the Papas! It's a CLASSIC! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers' recent song "Dani California" is pretty bad ass too......though I'm not sure it's actually about California or would deserve a top 10 spot. but California dreaming for sure!

Akshay said...

I might also add (unironically - I actually like this song) "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," by Dionne Warwick; along with "California," by Joni Mitchell, and possibly "Straight Outta Compton" as well.

Sam said...

I think it's interesteding to look at this list and think about how the idea of "California" has changed in our popular culture over the years. For example, I'm struck by how, in the 60's, California was almost universally used as a shorthand for utopian hippie paradise. See Mamas and the Papas (about more than the nice weather imho), Scott McKenzie, and Joni Mitchell for examples.

Some of that still lingers but I think it's been overshadowed recently by the use of L.A. as a shorthand for image obsessed pop culture cesspool.

See Tool's "Aenima," a dark fantasy about L.A. falling into the ocean, for a great example of the latter.

Joe said...

I totally agree about California Dreaming and Straight Outta Compton, though not sure what I'd bump. Along the lines of California's, the idea's, transformation, I thought Del the Funkee Homosapien's "Wacky World Of Rapid Transit" is a great tune that is exemplary of the underground hip-hop culture that is prevalent in the bay area, and so important to the national music scene, yet absent from this top ten. And it's a classic about riding the bus in the bay area, yet universal, so you listen to it, and you are like, "yes, this is exactly why I hate riding the bus!"

Jeff said...

I'm surprised that "L.A. Woman" didn't make this list, though see Sam's comment about the changing significations of "California" and west-coast living in general. That song was arguably a pivot point, actually, since it sits on the edge of the two views (hedonistic heaven vs. hedonistic slough), leaning towards the latter.

Neredowell1 said...

How about Robert Plant's
29 Palms?????

lynneberg said...

Number 9 is really Woodie Gurthrie (lyrics anyway), which reminds me, how about "Do-Re-Mi"? That's a California you don't hear much about any more.

Gail Broady said...

Do any of you kool peeps know the name of the song with the lyrics... take a caddy down to cali and new mexico???
Driving me batsman!