Skip to main content

100 Classic, Chill, and Fabulous Songs About California

E. A. Wright particularly enjoys exploring the California coastline and photographing the trails of the Sierra Nevada—a west coast lover.

Here's a selection of 100 wonderful songs about the Golden State or that have "California" in the title!

Here's a selection of 100 wonderful songs about the Golden State or that have "California" in the title!

Picking the Best California Songs: The Top Songs With "California" in the Title and Many More!

So many songs have been written about California over the years, and many, more are sure to come in the future. Even with 100 entries, this list is far from exhaustive, so please feel free to leave a comment noting any overlooked favorites.

Top 10 Best Songs About California

  1. "Hotel California" by the Eagles
  2. "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow
  3. "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" by Scott McKenzie
  4. "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas
  5. "Beverly Hills" by Weezer
  6. "Summer '79" by the Ataris
  7. "California" by Phantom Planet
  8. "California Love" by 2Pac and Dr. Dre
  9. "Dani California" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
  10. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash

1. "Hotel California" by the Eagles

Album: Hotel California

Release Date: December 8, 1976

"Hotel California" is an iconic track from one of the best-selling albums of all time. Its long build-up to the sweet, two-minute guitar solo at the end was a far cry from the three-minute-long typical hit song of the '70s, but nonetheless, it went on to become one of the all-time best songs about California.

Iconic Lyrics

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face

Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

2. "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow

Album: Tuesday Night Music Club

Release Date: April 4, 1994

Sheryl Crow's breakthrough hit "All I Wanna Do" is a sweet and friendly Grammy-winning track about having a good time in L.A. The song lyrics are based on the 1987 poem "Fun," written by American poet Wyn Cooper.

Iconic Lyrics

'Cause all I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one
All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one

All I wanna do is have some fun
Until the sun comes up over
Santa Monica Boulevard

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Spinditty

3. "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" by Scott McKenzie

Album: The Voice of Scott McKenzie

Release Date: May 13, 1967

"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" was a top-selling single of the '60s that was referred to as "the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s." The song was peaked on charts worldwide and has been featured in several movies and covered numerous times.

Iconic Lyrics

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair

4. "California Deamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas

Album: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

Release Date: December 8, 1965

"California Dreamin'" was written by John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas as they dreamt of the warmth of California during a bitterly cold New York winter. This hit track is referred to as a "counterculture anthem" of the '60s that has been covered by many artists, including the Beach Boys.

Iconic Lyrics

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)
I've been for a walk (I've been for a walk)
On a winter's day (on a winter's day)
I'd be safe and warm (I'd be safe and warm)
If I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.)

California dreamin' (California dreamin')
On such a winter's day

5. "Beverly Hills" by Weezer

Album: Make Believe

Release Date: March 28, 2005

"Beverly Hills" is by far Weezer's most popular and recognizable song and is known for its music video, which was filmed at the Playboy Mansion. The song is about being an outsider in the fast-paced world of celebrities in L.A.

Iconic Lyrics

Look at all those movie stars
They're all so beautiful and clean
When the housemaids scrub the floors
They get the spaces in between
I wanna live a life like that
I wanna be just like a king
Take my picture by the pool
'Cause I'm the next big thing

Beverly Hills
That's where I want to be
(Gimme gimme, gimme gimme)
Livin' in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills
Rollin' like a celebrity
(Gimme gimme, gimme gimme)
Livin' in Beverly Hills

6. "Summer '79" by the Ataris

Album: So Long, Astoria

Release Date: 2003

"Summer '79" references the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, which runs the length of the California coastline, passing through major coastal cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. This pop-punk track is the perfect California anthem for reminiscing about the long days and even longer nights of the summers of your youth.

Iconic Lyrics

We are the champions playing loud on the radio station
Everyone sing along with these anthems of our generation
Cruising down Pacific Coast Highway
Put the top down, crawl into the back seat
Let's create anthems of our own tonight

7. "California" by Phantom Planet

Album: The Guest

Release Date: February 2002

"California" is perhaps best known as the theme song to the 2000s show The O.C. The band released a mellower version of the song, known as "California 2005," three years later. Like many others on this list, "California" has references to the sun and driving down the coastal state's highways.

Iconic Lyrics

We've been on the run
Driving in the sun
Looking out for number one
California here we come
Right back where we started from

Hustlers grab your guns
Your shadow weighs a ton
Driving down the 101
California here we come
Right back where we started from

8. "California Love" by 2Pac and Dr. Dre

Album: All Eyez on Me

Release Date: December 3, 1995

Grammy-nominated "California Love" was one of 2Pac's biggest hits. It's a funky hip-hop track that refers to California as the "Wild Wild West" and the state that "knows how to party." The concept for the original music video was designed by 2Pac's longtime friend, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Iconic Lyrics

California knows how to party
California knows how to party (Yes, they do)
In the city of L.A
In the city of good ol' Watts
In the city, the city of Compton
We keep it rockin', we keep it rockin'

9. "Dani California" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Album: Stadium Arcadium

Release Date: April 28, 2006

The Red Hot Chili Peppers is one of the quintessential "California rock" groups, and "Dani California" is one of the band's most successful songs. "Dani California" is a narrative tale about a girl named Dani who comes from the South to live in California, and the ending features a minute-long guitar solo based on the intro to Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze."

Iconic Lyrics

California, rest in peace
Simultaneous release
California, show your teeth
She's my priestess
I'm your priest
Yeah, yeah, yeah

10. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash

Album: Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar!

Release Date: December 15, 1955

Johnny Cash was inspired to write this Grammy-winning country and rockabilly track after watching the film Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison while serving in the U.S. Air Force. He played the song live at Folsom Prison in 1968, and the recording of that performance also became a hit single. The song was pulled from the radio for a time after John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 due to the lyrics "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."

Iconic Lyrics

Well, if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I'd move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom Prison, that's where I want to stay
And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away

The Ultimate California Playlist: Songs About California, From Classic to Quirky

11. "Heads Carolina, Tails California" by Jo Dee Messina

12. "Catalina" by Seven Foot Wave

13. "California Nights" by Lesley Gore

14. "The Lights and Buzz" by Jack's Mannequin

15. "Miss California" by Jack's Mannequin

16. "101" by Albert Hammond Jr.

17. "From California" by The New Amsterdams

18. "California Day" by Starland Vocal Band

19. "Go to California" by Motorpsycho

20. "I Remember California" by R.E.M.

21. "California Soul" by Marlena Shaw

22. "California's Burning" by Augustana

23. "California Sun" by The Ramones

24. "Back to California" by Carole King

25. "(More Bounce In) California" by Soul Kid #1

26. "California Rain" by Silvertide

27. "San Francisco Days" by Chris Isaak

28. "California" by The Simpletones

29. "California" by Lenny Kravitz

30. "California" by The Kooks

31. "California" by Georgia Prophets

32. "California" by Atherton

33. "California" by The Beach Boys

34. "California" by Bag of Toys

35. "California" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

36. "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" by The Decemberists

37. "California One / Youth and Beauty Brigade" by The Decemberists

38. "California Sky" by Unwritten Law & Blink 182

39. "California" by Weezer

40. "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin

41. "Back Home" by Yellowcard

42. "California" by Eddi Reader

43. "California" by Rufus Wainwright

44. "California Girls" by The Beach Boys

45. "California Calling" by The Beach Boys

46. "Malibu" by Hole

47. "Big Sur" by The Thrills

48. "California" by The Weekend

49. "Santa Monica" by Everclear

50. "Holiday from Real" by Jack's Mannequin

51. "Mendocino" by The Sir Douglas Quintet

52. "A Long December" by Counting Crows

53. "California Love" by 2Pac

54. "Meet Me in California" by The Plain White T's

55. "New York to California" by Mat Kearney

56. "San Diego" by Parmalee

57. "Siren On the 101" by Over It

58. "San Simeon" by Goldfinger

59. "California Soul" by The 5th Dimension

60. "California" by Joni Mitchell

61. "California Bound" by Carolina Liar

62. "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" by Dionne Warwick

63. "The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)" by Jan & Dean

64. "Bakersfield Bound" by Chris Hillman

65. "Orange County" by Stefy

66. "Hollywood" by Daniel Powter

67. "Goodbye Hollywood" by JET

68. "Pacific Coast Party" by Smash Mouth

69. "Los Angeles" by Counting Crows

70. "Los Angeles" by Sugarcult

71. "Los Angeles Is Burning" by Bad Religion

72. "L.A. Freeway" by Jerry Jeff Walker

73. "Lodi" by Credence Clearwater Revival

74. "Pasadena Girl" by Nellie McKay

75. "Ukiah" by The Doobie Brothers

76. "Sutter's Mill" by Dan Fogelberg

77. "Monterey" by Eric Burdon & The Animals

78. "Venice, USA" by Red Elvises

79. "Santa Monica" by Theory of a Deadman

80. "California" by Hawk Nelson

81. "Palo Alto" by Radiohead

82. "Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel

83. "Ventura Highway" by America

84. "Parallel Universe" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

85. "House In California" by Keb' Mo'

86. "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight & The Pips

87. "California" by Metro Station

88. "California" by Dan Zanes

89. "Sausalito" by Conor Oberst

90. "Back to California" by Sugarcult

91. "California Nights" by Sweet

92. "Not California" by Hem

93. "California" by Low

94. "Late Great Golden State" by Mike Stinson

95. "California Grace" by Long Beach Shortbus

96. "It Never Rains In Southern California" by Albert Hammond & M. Hazelwood

97. "Talk to Me of Mendocino" by Kate & Anna McGarrigle

98. "Back to California" by The Wallflowers

99. "California" by Semisonic

100. "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding

© 2010 E. A. Wright

Comments

Mitch-1 on November 24, 2019:

what about San Diego by Blink-182?

Northern California on June 01, 2019:

Lot of LA songs here, but if you're from northern California, Train's got a whole album, none of which are on this list, sooo

Lana Adler from California on June 26, 2014:

Great hub! I never knew there were so many California songs :-)

Rory Murray on November 21, 2013:

Pico & Sepulveda-Felix Figueroa

San Fernando Valley-Bing Crosby

Los Angeles, Los Angeles-The Zanies

San Berdino-Frank Zappa

San Bernardino-Christie

San Bernardino-Los Hobbies

hally smith on September 07, 2013:

you missed an oldie, but classic California song, and some others:

Mission Bells by Donnie Brooks, (LA born and bred)

Santa Monica by Savage Garden

Going Hollywood by Super Tramp

Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

Tony C on March 05, 2013:

Surfin' USA - The Beach Boys -- my vote for the greatest rock n roll song written about California

LA Woman - The Doors

Freefallin' - Tom Petty

Missing the Bay on June 22, 2012:

Where's "15 songs about being hella homesick"? ;P

hmki on January 22, 2012:

ur missing Tony! Toni! Toné! - It Never Rains (In Southern California)

cheapestinsurance from California, USA on December 17, 2011:

What a list! I'll have to plug them into Spotify and give a listen.

Music lover on September 29, 2011:

Hi ! Nice site mate. But I really have to

say California Girls and Hotel Californie should

really been higher... MUCH higher ;)

henge on August 08, 2011:

aren't 88 and 53 the same thing?

Hildamari on May 28, 2011:

"California Gurls" by Katy Perry

leeroper from UK on May 11, 2011:

It's amazing how many people have named a song California, I just did a Spotify search and found 27 tracks all named after the sunny Cali.

Mark from Alabama,USA on May 05, 2011:

Nice Hub - I love Hotel California by the eagles it took me a month to learn the guitar solo on it.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on April 14, 2011:

I'll have to come back when I really have some time to listen -- after I finish my taxes. I missed "26 Miles across the Sea, Santa Catalina is Waitin' for Me" (unless I just don't know the title.) I also missed, as someone else did, "California, Here I Come." Maybe they are on some of your other California song lists.

cali on March 30, 2011:

California Dreamin' by The Mama's and Papa's! i can't believe this isn't on the list!

Shadowblack from England on March 06, 2011:

"Flower Punk" - The Mothers of Invention

bwreed66 on February 21, 2011:

"Petaluma" or "California Earthquake" from Norman Greenbaum

asleeemdsfdsf on February 03, 2011:

500 miles by the proclaimers! Amazing roadtrip song!

Brian Smith on December 26, 2010:

California Man-Cheap Trick, Come To California-Matthew Sweet, California Here I Come-Al Jolson, California Uber Alles-The Dead Kennedys, Estimated Prophet-Grateful Dead, Californication-Red Hot Chili Peppers, Big Sur-Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard, Barstow-Jay Farrar, Santa Cruz(You're Not That Far)-The Thrills, I Left My Heart In San Francisco-Tony Bennett & California Stars-Wilco.

m.tariq your deer on December 12, 2010:

Nice hub, I was thinking about starting guitar as a hobby since I don't really have any you know. :)...thnx for the info and great hub.

Paula from The Midwest, USA on December 02, 2010:

The song about California, by Paper Tongues is my new latest favorite song about California. If you haven't heard that one, you have to listen to it a couple of times, love it! Great hub of fun songs.

Da guy on November 01, 2010:

California Flight Project song California Flight

might be the greatest of them all. It touches on Northern California the State of California. Including Southern California. A breezy smooth , laid back Cali style cut.

it only been out for a few years. And not many radio stations have heard of it but the underground mix DJ's world wide discovered a California gem of a song. By California Flight {Project} Song California Flight. What a classic.

ashman on October 10, 2010:

what about im going back to cali by biggie smalls

Drew on October 05, 2010:

One HUGE omission. Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." has been used in countless movies and CONSTANTLY makes me think of Southern Cal.

kel on September 16, 2010:

going on vaca to ca and needed a good playlist...thanks!

The Lanks on August 29, 2010:

This is a great list! But I think that the song listed as 'California - Weezer' is actually by The Rentals. It's a really common mistake though, The Rentals not only sound a lot like Weezer, but they also have a former member of Weezer.

Again, I LOVE this list, lots of really great songs!

jeff in sydney on August 28, 2010:

2 crucial omissions -

Linda Rondstadt's "Adios" with Brian Wilson's gorgeous backing vox, written by Jimmy Webb

"Ran away from home when I was just 17

To be with you

On the California Coast

Drinking margaritas all night in the old cantina"

"And I miss the blood red sunsets...Adios"

And Belinda Carlisle's "California"

"it took a lot for me say

To walk away, LA

From the shops and the chardonnay"

kachis from Lagos, Nigeria. on May 29, 2010:

You remind of the legendary 2paq. Thank you.

pete on May 28, 2010:

mi chota!

PhotoShowMan4U from United States on March 27, 2010:

Nice Hub, Great List! Some months back I was searching for some California related songs for a Photo Show I was making, but I couldn't get a list like yours.Lucky, I came across yours now.I am bookmarking this Hub.