If you’re looking for a little music to reflect your love for the Golden State, look no further! In this blog post, we will be highlighting some of the best songs about California.
Whether you’re a native of the state or just visiting, these tunes will have you feeling Californian in no time. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some of our favorite tracks about the great state of California!
(Go To) California by Rob Zombie.
It’s an old-school rock anthem about the Golden State and its cities. Rob Zombie sings about the highlights of life in California, from Hollywood glamor to cruising up and down Highway 1.
The chorus declares that all roads lead to California and then he lists some of the state’s famous cities: “L.A., San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Ventura and Sacramento”.
The song is a celebration of life in the state where everything seems to be possible.
(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay by Otis Redding.
This song, released in 1968 and written by Redding and Steve Cropper, is an ode to the beauty of California. It has become a classic for its laid-back melody and simple lyrics that capture the relaxed atmosphere of the California coast.
The lyrics evoke images of leisurely days spent watching sailboats drift by from the dock while listening to the waves lap against the shore.
The song also celebrates Redding’s own journey to California, where he achieved success as a soul musician and made a name for himself in the music industry.
Back In LA by B.B. King.
This classic blues song is an ode to California and its cities, including the Golden State’s capital. He sings of his love for the sunshine and ocean, which he misses while on tour away from home.
The song was recorded in 1961 while King happened to be touring through Los Angeles at the time.
Its unique orchestration includes a small jazz band backing up the legendary blues singer’s electric guitar. It’s an upbeat yet melancholic song that captures the longing for one’s home state.
Beverly Hills by Weezer.
This classic rock anthem is an ode to California living, with its chorus repeating the line “We’re all alright in Beverly Hills.”
The song talks about selling out and how it doesn’t bother the narrator since he still has a membership at the Beverly Hills Hotel! Fun fact: Weezer shot part of their music video for this song at the actual Beverly Hills Hotel.
Born In East LA by Cheech Marin.
Written by Cheech Marin and his cousin, Born In East LA is a comedic song about being mistaken for an illegal immigrant in the US.
It tells the story of one such man, named Roberto, who gets arrested after he can’t provide proof of his citizenship.
The song paints a vivid picture of the struggles that immigrants face as they try to make a life for themselves in California.
Marin’s humorous lyrics and catchy chorus make the song a classic, as it has been featured in movies, TV shows, and commercials over the years.
The song is a reminder of the struggles that immigrants have had to go through throughout American history, and serves as a powerful statement on immigration policy.
California by Joni Mitchell.
This classic folk-rock song was released on Mitchell’s iconic 1971 album Blue. The track paints a vivid picture of the beauty, vibrancy and magic of California.
She sings “All that fancy jewelry, Hollywood hills / Wood and wire, dream in your eyes / Oh how they shine when you talk about California” to describe the golden state’s allure.
The song has been covered by many other artists over the years, including the Beach Boys and Norah Jones. California is an anthem to those who call it home, or have dreamed of living there one day.
California by Phantom Planet.
This song is a classic rock anthem about California and the way it’s perceived by many. The lyrics talk about how people can’t help but be drawn to its promise of sun, sand, and fun.
The chorus points out that despite the downside of living in such a crowded place, “there’s no place like home.”
It’s an uplifting song that makes you feel good about being in the golden state. The music video, which was featured in the hit movie Orange County, adds to the song’s appeal as it shows various images of California and captures its spirit perfectly.
California by Phantom Planet is an iconic tune that’s sure to get any Cali native feeling proud and nostalgic.
California by U2.
The popular Irish rock band’s 1989 song California celebrates the state with lyrics such as “California, here I come/Right back where I started from”.
U2 frontman Bono said he was inspired by the Golden State’s serene beauty and wrote about it in his song. This single off their album Rattle and Hum soared to No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & The Papas.
This classic song was released in 1965 and speaks to the power of hope and dreams. The lyrics evoke a yearning for the beauty and opportunities that California provides, with lyrical references to palm trees, ocean waves, and warm weather.
It has become an anthem for those who have traveled to California in search of their dreams. Similarly, San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie perfectly captures the spirit of San Francisco during the Summer of Love.
The song speaks to the carefree, bohemian lifestyle that emerged as people flocked to San Francisco looking for a new way of life.
California Girls by The Beach Boys.
Released in 1965, this song quickly became a classic. It celebrates the beauty and diversity of California girls, from surfers to Hollywood stars.
The classic Beach Boys-style harmonies capture the carefree atmosphere and sunny disposition that California is known for.
California Gurls by Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg.
Released in 2010, this upbeat, pop-rap duet captures the essence of California. It’s a sunny daydream of Hollywood and the beach, complete with references to surfing, tanning, and the Pacific Coast Highway.
The song became an instant hit and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. “California Gurls” is the perfect way to get you in a sunny and carefree Californian state of mind.
California Love by Tupac.
This classic hip-hop anthem celebrates the beauty and energy of California, celebrating its diversity and welcoming the hustle and bustle that makes it one of the most popular states in the US.
The track samples Joe Cocker’s “Woman to Woman,” which has become a staple in many hip-hop songs due to its unique sound.
Tupac uses this song to talk about the good life in California, whether it’s the cars and women or just being able to enjoy the beaches and mountains.
It has become an iconic part of hip-hop culture and a popular choice among those who are looking for an ode to their beloved home state.
California Stars by Wilco.
This folk-rock tune is a classic ode to the Golden State, singing of its sunny skies and golden hills. Lyrically, it speaks of being in awe of California’s beauty, while musically it has an upbeat yet dreamy feel that perfectly captures the state’s vibe.
Lead singer Jeff Tweedy’s voice carries over the subtle instrumentation, giving the song a warm and inviting tone.
The chorus of “I could build a home for two/ With these California stars” is particularly poignant as it speaks to the idea of creating something special from within such an inspiring landscape.
California Sun by The Ramones.
This classic rock and roll song captures the allure of the Golden State. With its bright, driving guitar riffs and catchy chorus, it’s no wonder that this tune has been covered many times over since its release in 1975.
While the lyrics don’t get into specifics about California or its attractions, they do paint a vivid picture of the warm sun and carefree attitude of living in the state.
It’s easy to envision yourself on a beach somewhere, soaking up the sounds of this track and simply enjoying life. California Sun is a perfect example of why many people love California and its laid-back vibes.
California Sunset by Neil Young.
This song is a gentle and peaceful ode to the beauty of California. It paints a vivid picture of lush landscapes, clear skies and the warmth of summer days.
The music has a soothing, folky feel and Young’s ethereal vocals transport us to this idyllic setting.
California Waiting by Kings Of Leon.
This song paints a picture of the beauty of California and how it can make someone feel. As the lead singer croons “We’re California waiting, underneath the stars we lie” he conveys an emotion of longing for the golden state and all that it brings.
The lyrics express a desire to experience life in California with its warm weather and beautiful sunsets. The song is an ode to anyone who has ever dreamed of a life in California, singing out “I believe if you’ll just take my hand, I can show you what it means to be free”.
Kings Of Leon captures the dreamy feeling of wanting to explore all that California has to offer and the hope that life in California can bring.
Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This song is a classic and has been around since the late 1990s. It features an iconic guitar riff, some groovy basslines and Anthony Kiedis’ signature rap-rock vocal delivery.
The song paints a vivid picture of life in the Golden State – from Hollywood’s bright lights to the chill vibes of the beachside communities.
Lyrically, it speaks to the overwhelming ambition and culture of California that can sometimes become overwhelming.
It’s a great example of how music can capture a moment in time and encapsulate an entire feeling within four minutes.
Canyon Moon by Andrew McMahon.
This heartfelt tune is an ode to the Golden State, with lyrics that celebrate its natural beauty and paint a picture of what life in California can be.
The song captures the feeling of being away from home but also longing for it, as Andrew sings “I want to go back home/ To where I belong/ To California’s canyon moon.
Christmas In San Francisco by Russ Lorenson.
This sentimental classic tells the story of a couple who travel to San Francisco to spend their first Christmas together.
The song celebrates all the joys and wonders of this beautiful city, from its iconic bridges to its fog-covered hills. It’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit, no matter what time of year it is.
Dani California by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
This classic song from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is an anthem for California’s diverse, vibrant population. It speaks of all the rich culture and history that makes up the Golden State, with references to Hollywood, Malibu, and San Francisco.
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis’ vocals soar over a funky rock-based beat, bringing out the energy that California is known for.
The tune also has a great catchy chorus, making it an instant hit with fans when it was released in 2006.
Going Back To Cali by LL Cool J.
This classic hip-hop anthem gives a trip down memory lane, with LL Cool J rapping about his experiences of visiting and living in California. He talks about the people, places, and things he’s encountered while traveling through the Golden State.
It instantly sparks nostalgia as it celebrates all that is special about California. The chorus captures this sentiment perfectly: “I’m goin’ back to Cali, don’t you know me? I’m the type of guy that could live anywhere.”
The song is a testament to the impact California has had on so many people who have visited or resided in the state.
Going To California by Led Zeppelin.
Though it was never officially released as a single, this classic rock anthem decisively made its way into the hearts of Californians around the world.
The song reflects on a young man’s journey to California in search of something more, an idea that still resonates with many today. From the iconic guitar riffs to Robert Plant’s wistful vocals, this song captures the spirit of Californians and is a perfect tribute to the Golden State.
Hollywood by Daniel Powter.
This song paints a vivid picture of the City of Angels, from its sunny beaches to its busy streets.
In it, Powter sings about the unique experience of living in Hollywood, describing the glamorous and often-unreal world that exists there: “It’s like a movie / It’s like a dream come true / Oh I’m livin’ in Hollywood.”
With lyrics that capture the beauty and excitement of this city, “Hollywood” is a great song to celebrate the many wonders Los Angeles has to offer.
Hotel California by The Eagles.
This iconic track was released in 1976 and quickly became an anthem for the state of California. Written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Don Felder, “Hotel California” tells the story of a traveler who arrives at a mysterious hotel only to find himself unable to leave.
The lyrics are full of symbolism that many believe reflects the seductive yet false glamour of California’s culture. The song was highly successful, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
It has since been covered by many artists, cementing its place as an iconic piece of California culture.
I Left My Heart In San Francisco by Tony Bennett.
A classic love song written by George Cory and Douglass Cross, this track was first recorded in 1961.
Its lyrics tell stories of a man’s deep love for the city of San Francisco, with his longing to return to its breathtaking views, charming people, and beautiful streets.
This track has become an iconic anthem for the city and one of the most beloved California songs of all time.
I Love LA by Randy Newman.
This upbeat and energetic song captures the classic California attitude, from the palm trees to the sunsets.
It was first released in 1983 and has become a staple of locals and tourists alike. Its lyrics reflect on what makes living in Los Angeles so great, with lines like “There’s no place that I’d rather be/ Than right here by the sea”.
It serves as an anthem for the city and is a great song to get anyone in a good mood.
It Never Rains In Southern California by Albert Hammond.
This song is a rock classic that speaks of the glamorous life Californians lead. It paints a picture of sun-filled days, where everything is perfect and there are no worries or care in the world.
But beneath it all, there is an underlying loneliness and longing for something more tangible than just dreams—a reminder that even in paradise, things can seem less than perfect.
This song captures the sentiment of hope, but also a realism that not everything may turn out as we plan.
La La Land by Bryce Vine.
This upbeat and catchy tune captures the essence of California’s beachside vibes. Bryce Vine croons about a carefree lifestyle and being ready to take on life in La La Land, making it an appropriate addition to any summer playlist.
LA Woman by The Doors.
This classic song paints a vivid picture of the City of Angels. Jim Morrison’s iconic lyrics speak to the city’s vibrant nightlife and alluring culture, “The stars shine bright, but they’re outshined by you tonight”. His unmistakable voice captures both the power and beauty of LA in an unforgettable way.
Lodi by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Written by John Fogerty in 1969, the song tells the story of a musician who hitchhikes his way to Lodi, California in search of fame and fortune. He finds neither and is forced to return back home.
The lyrics are filled with symbolism about the American Dream and how it often fails to materialize.
In addition, there are references to California’s rural landscape, making it a great song for any fan of the state. With its catchy guitar riffs and wistful lyrics, Lodi is the perfect tune to capture the spirit of California.
Paradise City by Guns N Roses.
This quintessential 80’s rock anthem paints a picture of California during the height of the glam metal era. Taking influence from the vivid colors, culture and lifestyle of the Golden State, Paradise City is a love letter to Los Angeles and its sunny shores.
The song’s chorus famously states “Take me down/To the paradise city/Where the grass is green/And the girls are pretty”.
This lyric speaks to the idea that California was a place of dreams and possibilities, with its seemingly endless stretches of beautiful beaches, plentiful entertainment opportunities and optimistic outlook.
Queen Of California by John Mayer.
This song captures the spirit of California with its feel-good lyrics and sunny guitar riffs. The song is about a man who moves to California and falls in love with the state’s beauty and energy. He speaks of how he finds himself amazed by its people, places, and atmosphere.
The chorus goes “Oh California, I’m yours tonight/ Oh California, you know I’m alright/ Oh California, with all of your stars in the sky/ Oh California, I’m the queen of your heart tonight”.
This is a great song to listen to when wanting to take a trip down memory lane and remember why we love living in our home state, or when wanting to get motivated to explore and experience all that California has to offer.
San Francisco Dues by Chuck Berry.
This song, released in 1971, tells the story of a young man who is trying to make his way in San Francisco and falls into debt, so he has to pay his “San Francisco dues.”
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of life in the city, with references to its hills and hippies. It’s an ode to the city’s variety and energy, with Chuck Berry’s signature sound.
South California Purples by Chicago.
This classic rock song is about the struggle of life in Southern California. It takes a humorous look at the glamor and beauty of Hollywood, while also poking fun at the darker side of living in Los Angeles.
The lyrics highlight both despair and hope as the narrator reflects on his life in California. This song paints a vivid picture of life in SoCal, and its catchy chorus has made it an anthem for anyone who has ever called the Golden State home.
Sweet Life by Frank Ocean.
This track is a bridge between soulful R&B and rap, singing about the luxurious life that California offers.
The chorus states “sweet life, it’s good vibes and better nights/Diamonds all on ice, yeah that’s what we like” – expressing Frank Ocean’s feelings towards how great the state is.
He describes the atmosphere of West Coast life, with its warm weather, beautiful sights and relaxed vibes. The track also features a jazzy beat and a catchy hook that makes it an ideal pick for your California road trip playlist.
This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan.
Released in 1995, this iconic song celebrates the joys of living life to the fullest. The perfect California party anthem, it captures the spirit of living it up and having fun.
Ukiah by The Doobie Brothers.
Released in 1975 and featured on their fourth album, Stampede, Ukiah is a classic folk-rock song about California’s rugged nature.
Written by band member Tom Johnston, the lyrics describe his longing for the wild beauty of northern California’s Mendocino County, near Ukiah.
With its bright acoustic guitars, melodic bass line and sing-along chorus, Ukiah captures the feeling of adventure for anyone who has ever explored California’s northern coast.
When You Get To California by Hoodoo Gurus.
This classic rock song paints a picture of life in California with its sunny days and peaceful nights.
The narrator sings about the beauty of the state, while also acknowledging that it isn’t perfect. He’s not ready to stay there forever, but he wants to explore what it has to offer.
The lyrics are powerful and evocative of the love-hate relationship Californians share with their home.
California has inspired many songs, from classic rock ballads to upbeat pop hits. Whether the artist is a native of the Golden State or simply had an experience there that was so meaningful it needed to be shared in song, California’s presence can be felt throughout the music.
Some of the most iconic groups and solo artists have composed songs about California and its beautiful landscape, culture, and people.
From Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” to The Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” these songs have become staples of the music catalog and are sure to evoke a feeling of nostalgia for anyone who has ever taken part in what California has to offer.