41 Best Songs About California Ever

California, the Golden State, is the state of sun, surf, glamor, and opportunity. Not only that, but when it comes to musicians singing about their state, it potentially has the best ones made about it.

Here are the best songs about California of all time.

Contents

“Hotel California” by The Eagles

Song year: 1976

“Hotel California” by The Eagles exemplifies the dangers of a life full of excess and chasing highs.

We follow as the song’s speaker is lured and pulled into California.

What’s clear is that a life focused on fleeting pleasures is irresistible and disorienting. It captures you and never really lets you go.

“California Gurls” by Katy Perry

Song year: 2010

The lyrics of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” starts like an ad for California tourism, beckoning listeners to the state.

This one off of Teenage Dream is an ode to the hot women of L.A. Full of beachy images and sexual innuendo, this is a fun summertime song that appeals to people’s desire to let loose and party. There are worse reasons to visit a place!

“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas

Song year: 1966

Next up, with “California Dreamin’,” The Mamas & The Papas aren’t praising California but pining for it.

This song follows the speaker through a cold, bleak winter walk. Finding warmth in a church, he daydreams about being in California, where he knows it will be sunny, bright, warm, and promising.

This song is about believing that the physical place you’re stuck in is why you’re stuck, and everything would be better if you were only somewhere else.

“Californication” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Song year: 1999

Off the album of the same name, “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a funky frenzy of a song.

This track is about the depravity and fakeness of Southern California. The focus on beauty, youth, and the appearance of wealth, at any cost, is an L.A. image desired and marketed worldwide.

A portmanteau of the words “California” and “fornication,” this is about an empty pursuit of pleasure rather than a quest for an honest and substantial life.

“California Girls” by The Beach Boys

Song year: 1965

Off the album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), “California Girls” is an ode to the women of California. The singer has traveled extensively, so he has some experience when he says the tanned and scantily clad girls there are his favorite.

This song is about knowing who you’re attracted to and celebrating it.

“L.A. Woman” by The Doors

Song year: 1971

The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” is a feverish rocker grounded in a fast, free, intoxicated lifestyle.

The woman could be seen as a particular person or as an archetype. She is cute, sexy, free, dangerous, sad, and crazy. The song is about the type of people you might find in L.A., those who know what they’re doing and those that are alone and floundering.

“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” by Scott McKenzie

Song year: 1967

Written by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas, Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in You Hair)” was the unofficial anthem for the Monterey Pop Festival. It became a recognized anthem for the hippie, free-love movement.

The song is full of the San Francisco Summer of Love vibe. It lets people who might be coming to be a part of it know what to expect and how to fit in.

“California” by Joni Mitchell

Song year: 1971

Canadian-born Joni Mitchell is a famous long-term resident of Laurel Canyon. From her album, Blue, “California” is a song about coming home in pieces and hoping to be restored.

The lyrics describe an exhausting, demoralizing, and heartbreaking journey around the world. The song’s speaker should be happy with everything she’s seen, all the people she’s met, but she’s been broken by it.

“Queen of California” by John Mayer

Song year: 2012

Speaking of Joni Mitchell, John Mayer’s “Queen of California” from the album, Born and Raised, pays tribute to folk-rock and Laurel Canyon by referencing Mitchell herself and Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

The lyrics here speak about being haunted. But being haunted isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is a woman who has left the song’s speaker, but he’s heading out to the haunted places anyway to see what else he can find there and what lessons from the past he can use to move on.

“Beverly Hills” by Weezer

Song year: 2005

Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” is another of the many songs about California that draw from the glitz and glamour of wealth and the chase for fame.

In this song, the singer desires the extravagant “Beverly Hills” life, and while he might have the means for it, it is not who he is.

At its core, the song is about being honest with yourself. The singer doesn’t pretend he doesn’t want that indulgent life. He also doesn’t lie to himself.

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