- 1 “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
- 2 “California Deamin'” by the Mamas and the Papas
- 3 “California” by Phantom Planet
- 4 “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
- 5 “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash
- 6 When You Get to California (Hoodoo Gurus)
- 7 California Sun (The Ramones)
- 8 California Love
- 9 Queen of California (John Mayer)
- 10 California Girls (The Beach Boys)
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow is a Grammy-winning song about having fun in Los Angeles. The song’s lyrics were inspired by Wyn Cooper’s 1987 poem “Fun.”
“California Deamin'” by the Mamas and the Papas
The Mamas and the Papas’ John and Michelle Phillips came up with the song “California Dreamin'” as a way to escape the terrible cold of New York during the winter. The Beach Boys, among others, have recorded this song, which has been described to as a “counterculture anthem” of the 1960s.
“California” by Phantom Planet
As the theme song of The O.C. in the 2000s, “California” is likely best remembered. “California 2005” was released by the band three years after the original release of the song. The word “California,” like so many others on this list, has associations with the sun and the coastal state’s roadways.
“Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
‘Dani California’ has been a huge hit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who are a classic example of a ‘California rock’ band. Dani California is a story about a Southern girl who ends up in California and plays a guitar solo modeled on the entrance to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” in the film’s last scene.
“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash
After witnessing the film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison while serving in the US Air Force, Johnny Cash was inspired to create this Grammy-winning country and rockabilly single In 1968, Elvis sang the song live at Folsom Prison, and the recording of that performance was also a successful single. Lyrics “I shot a man in Reno simply to see him die” were taken off the air after JFK was assassinated in 1963.
When You Get to California (Hoodoo Gurus)
The Hoodoo Gurus included a music video for “When You Get to California” on their album Mach Schau. You’ll feel like you’re on the road to California as you watch a lady drive through cornfields and take in pictures of the people and places she passes.
California Sun (The Ramones)
Joe Jones, an R&B singer, initially recorded “California Sun” in 1961. The Offspring, Annette Funicello, and Frankie Avalon have all covered this thrilling tune, which rapidly became an anthem to those heading to California’s warm coasts.
When the Ramones reworked the song in 1977 to include powerful guitar and bass beats, it became an anthem for punk rock.
Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’s Leave Home Album contains the song, which has been used in several films, including The Doors’ iconic moment in Venice Beach when Jim Morrison arrives.
When Tupac Shakur was released from jail in 1995, he released a song called “California Love,” which rapidly became his most popular hit ever. During that time, it remained at the top of the Billboard charts for a total of two weeks.
Two-Pac penned the lyrics, while Dr. Dre produced the track, which still has a timeless groove that can be recognized by any hip-hop lover no matter how old they are.
After 2Pac’s death the following year, the song California Love was widely recognized as one of his greatest and won him two posthumous Grammy nominations.
Queen of California (John Mayer)
Released way back in 2012, I’d say John Mayer’s ‘Queen of California’ is one of his most underrated songs to date. Dulcet tones meet a catchy, folk-pop/country melody to create an upbeat, positive vibe that you can’t help tapping your foot to!
Fed up with the glitz and glam of the celebrity status to which he’d grown accustomed in California, the lyrics (apparently) describe his move back to a simpler life based around quality music. Whether that’s true or not I’ll never know. One thing’s for sure, though, he wrote an absolute tune that rarely gets the recognition it deserves!
California Girls (The Beach Boys)
As a tribute to California women, The Beach Boys released “California Girls,” one of their most popular songs. It was published in the summer of 1965 and was written by the band’s cousins, Brian Wilson and Mike Love.
If you live in California, this song is a must-have addition to your summertime BBQ and party playlist. California Girls was ranked #72 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” In 1985, David Lee Roth’s rendition of the song topped the Billboard 100, making it to number three.