Have you ever driven down the 101 on your convertible heading towards a sweet surf session and later some food at your favorite burger joint? Okay, no one has, but this Southern California cliché is everyone’s dream and you know it! So for all of us who need a California fix right now, especially during the summer, here’s a list of songs that will get you in the right mood.
Garden Grove – Sublime
If there ever was a Southern California band, it would be Sublime. Many of their songs talk about surfing, smoking pot, Long Beach, or even about the LA riots from 1992. Here’s a song about driving to Garden Grove in Orange County and all the hassle it implies. Yet it’s somehow fun? That’s just SoCal for you.
Going to California – Led Zeppelin
Now, wait a minute. Just because you’re not from California doesn’t mean you can’t sing to California. Here’s a classic song about arriving in SoCal. “The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake as the children of the sun began to awake.”
Free fallin’ – Tom Petty
No one describes driving through LA like Tom Petty. The Valley, Reseda, the freeway, Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland all made it to the song. And the chorus summarizes what living in LA. makes you feel: free. Free falling, that is.
Sugar – Maroon 5
This isn’t exactly a song about SoCal, but at some point the lyrics say: “I gotta be your man, there ain’t no other way ’cause, girl, your hotter than the Souther California bay”. And for that, they get spot on the list.
The music video is special because Maroon 5 drives around LA crashing weddings. And, of course, driving around in a convertible.
California – Phantom Planet
Say what you will about Phantom Planet and The OC, but don’t kid yourself. You know you sang your heart out when that sweet chorus came on: Californiaaaaaa, here we come!
California Gurls – Katy Perry
The title itself is a reference to The Beach Boys’ “California Girls”. This is a special mention to Katy Perry for bringing that spirit back.
Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
This is an oldie, but a goodie. You might not need this reminder, but I’m gonna do it anyway. The Beach Boys embodied the “California Sound” like no other band. With sweet-sounding vocals and lyrics about surfing, going to the beach, cars, liking girls, and being blonde, their music is synonymous with Southern California, specially in the ’60s. The Beach Boys are the kind of music that will get you in the mood for an Endless Summer and “Surfin’ USA” is perfect for it since it actually lists all the beaches in and around the LA area. Fun fact: the song was written by Chuck Berry, which means Berry is featured twice on this list.
The Promised Land – Chuck Berry
A catchy tune about African-American immigration to California in the mid 20th century. Many people were fleeing from Jim Crow states, and while California wasn’t exactly a safe haven, this particular period changed the state forever. This song is about the beginning of the massive African-American influence that California owes so much to.
Californication – The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
A true classic from the late nineties. The Peppers love California, they just love it, but this is the song that best shows it. While there’s only a couple references to actual things in SoCal, it’s still a song that takes you there.
Paradise City – Guns n’ Roses
Picture yourself driving down Sunset while blasting Paradise City. It doesn’t get more LA than that.
California Sun – The Ramones
The Ramones didn’t write this song, but they made it punk rock. Not bad for four punks from Queens.
Don’t these songs just make you want to put on your Huarache sandals, or as I call them, your chanclas?
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