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Any quality trip to California would not be complete without a road trip, and any road trip would not be complete without a playlist or a mix. A mixtape, if you will, dating back to the days when there was only radio and whatever you recorded from the radio.

A top 10 list of songs about and for California:

  1. California – Joni Mitchell
  2. California Gurls – Katie Perry
  3. San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers…) – Scott McKenzie
  4. California – The Kooks
  5. 405 – Death Cab for Cutie
  6. California Love – Tupac
  7. California Girls – The Beach Boys
  8. California Dreamin’ – The Mama’s and the Papa’s
  9. California English – Vampire Weekend
  10. West Coast – Coconut Records

Joni Mitchell’s California, with lyrics like “California I’m coming home / Oh make me feel good rock ‘n’ roll band / I’m your biggest fan / California I’m coming home” is my first pick. A crooning love song to California from Joni Mitchell’s Blue album (1970), this song served as my anthem while spending several months in Southern Africa.

Katie Perry and Snoop made a more modern version of The Beach Boys’ California Girls with more risqué lyrics and a catchy hook, “You could travel the world/ But nothing comes close / To the golden coast.” A choice song for those who love California and Karaoke.

#3, 7, 8 are classics. Enough said.

Vampire Weekend’s California English is filled with subtle notes that frankly, I have no idea what they mean, but the song is catchy nonetheless. Finally, Coconut Records’ West Coast is a more recent song (2007), with a refrain that usually catches how I feel when leaving those I love: “I miss you / I’m goin’ back home to the West Coast / I wish you would’ve put yourself in my suitcase.” There are many more songs, lyrics and bands with ties to the great state, but these are just a few of my favorites.

Find an abridged version of the list on Spotify:

 

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