We're still looking for additions to our list of the most iconic songs about California. In the meantime, we sent NPR intern Sarah Whites-Koditschek to the intern's natural habitat (Youtube) in order to find us videos for some of your suggestions. Here is what she brought back.
1 - "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" - The Decembrists:
This is an animated video by the Decemberists, a Portland, OR-based band that portrays LA as a post-Armageddon wasteland. I particularly liked listening to the whiney lead singer rip on the "ladies, pleasant and demure. Sallow-cheeked and sure. I can see your undies." Several people offered this song as their favorite about California, but I wonder: Are they Californians or Oregonians?
2 - "Going to California" - Led Zepplin:
This song paints a more idyllic image of California:
Made up my mind to make a new start,
Going to California with an aching in my heart.
Someone told me there's a girl out there
With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.
Took my chances on a big jet plane.
I have to say, this is kind of a lazy performance. Zepplin seem pretty nonplussed by their trans-oceanic, trans-continental trip, and seem pretty content with illustrating the lyrics of this song with goofy hand gestures. More energy, please!
3 - "Californication" - The Red Hot Chili Peppers:
The Red Hot Chili Peppers animated themselves for this video and created their own California-themed video game, all about averting the disaster of so-called "californication." In the video they dodge the cops, a large bear, escape a gold mine, snowboard on a moving train, scuba dive, surf on a shark and meet at the bottom of a cracked fault line during an earthquake. Typical Cali day, absolutely.
4 - "California dreamin'" - The Mommas and the Poppas:
I wanted to include a classic California song, and this one seems quintessential. It's also fun to watch in an age of digital video mayhem, the Mommas and the Poppas delivering a no-frills a capella performance.
5 - "California Love" - 2Pac:
Apparently 2Pac was pretty proud of his adopted state of California. This video takes the "California partying" theme one step beyond — this party is in a Mad Max-style Oakland of the future. (And, oddly enough, seems to be held in a yurt.) The basic theme is Friedrich Nietzsche meets The Mack: "He who controls the dance floor controls the people." Or: "just c'mon, shake, shake it baby baby baby, shake it mama shake it mama shake it mama, sha-e-maooeeoooheoaeaa cali-aaee-aaee-eeooo uhooh rictor scale..."
6 - "The Dying Californian" - Cordelia's Dad:
The lyrics of this song, written in 1854, are said to be based on the letter which described the drowning of a New Englander as he traveled to California to make his fortune. I like the old photographs used in this video, and Tim Eriksen, the vocalist, has such a great voice.
Got a favorite California song or video? Let us know in the comments!