I’m not gonna lie to you: I’ve listened to this song about three or four times in the past 20 minutes, searching for an opening to write something as brilliant as what Led Zeppelin cobbled together nearly 40 years ago. That’s when they knocked off this tune and sandwiched it with seven other classics on their fourth album.
Led Zeppelin loved playing in California, particularly Los Angeles. They also loved Joni Mitchell, and penned this song as a tribute to her. In one fell swoop, they put their stamp on the California Rock subgenre (think Eagles, Warren Zevon, or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), unwittingly besting a lot of artists who made their living from this type of music. But, as you can see and hear from this earnest performance, they aren’t trying to show up anybody; they’re just having fun.
“Going to California” is a terrific travel song. From the Led Zeppeling canon, the best song in terms of transporting you somewhere is the other-wordly anthem “Kashmir,” but “Going to California” is all about the journey. We haven’t reached the palm trees or the redwoods yet – we’re still waiting for the beverage cart and looking wistfully out the airplane window. If you’re headed to the Golden State, be sure and include this on your mp3 player. Or, have a listen if you’re dreaming of going back.
Song: “Going to California”
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Album: Led Zeppelin IV
Precede with: “Carefree Highway,” by Gordon Lightfoot
Follow with: “California Love” by 2Pac & Dr. Dre