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Beyond California Dreamin'

Check out our playlist of over 80 songs that embody the complete California experience -- the dreams, the realities and the myths.

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California Songs

Song Profiles

The California Report | Friday, Aug 07, 2015, 4:30 PM

California Songs: Dave Alvin's 'California's Burning'

We reach back into the California Report archives for a 2010 story that fits in with today's headlines. Grammy-winning musician Dave Alvin is a bit of a California historian who's used the Golden State as the inspiration for many of his songs, including one called "California's Burning."

The California Report | Friday, Jul 11, 2014, 4:30 PM

California Songs: The Goodtime Washboard 3's 'Oakland'

Tony Bennett and Jeanette MacDonald made sure San Francisco was enshrined in popular music. But Oakland has always struggled a bit in the shadow of its shinier, richer neighbor across the Bay. Forty years ago, Bay Area DJ Jim Lange challenged listeners to give Oakland a song that paid tribute to its beauty and quirk. The winning entry, by The Goodtime Washboard 3, became an uplifting, unofficial anthem that some locals still cherish. We talk with the group's washtub bass player Bruce Bratton about their song, "Oakland."

The California Report | Friday, Feb 07, 2014, 4:30 PM

California Songs: Stompy Jones' 'New Direction'

Like many people, musician "Little David" Rose followed his dreams to San Francisco from a small town in Kansas. And when he got to the City by the Bay, Rose started his jazz and blues band, Stompy Jones. For our occasional series "California Songs," Rose talked to us about the backdrop to his song, "New Direction."

The California Report | Friday, Jan 10, 2014, 4:30 PM

California Songs: Afrolicious' 'California Dreaming'

"California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas is perhaps the best-known song about longing for the Golden State. Its dreamy picture of the West Coast was also an inspiration for the San Francisco-based collective, Afrolicious. For our occasional series on California Songs, we spoke with one of the band's founders, Joe McGuire, about their new take on the idea of "California Dreaming."

The California Report | Friday, Dec 20, 2013, 4:30 PM

California Songs: 'White Christmas'

The most popular and most-recorded Christmas song of all time is really about California -- but many people have never even heard the part of it that refers to the Golden State. We listen back to a favorite installment in our "California Songs" series.

The California Report | Friday, Sep 20, 2013, 4:30 PM

California Songs: The Stone Foxes 'Goodnight Moon'

California native Shannon Koehler plays with the Bay Area band The Stone Foxes. He tells us what inspired him to write about San Francisco's homeless population in their song, "Goodnight Moon." It's the latest installment of our California Songs series, where musicians tell us the back story to songs inspired by the Golden State.

The California Report | Friday, Aug 16, 2013, 4:30 PM

California Songs: Eleni Mandell's 'The Future'

Songwriter Eleni Mandell lives in Los Angeles, where she works to balance single motherhood with her music career. For our "California Songs" series, reporter Colin Berry talked to Mandell about her song "The Future." She says it was inspired by a drive up north after a romance went south.

The California Report | Friday, Aug 02, 2013, 4:30 PM

California Songs: Woody Guthrie's 'California Stars'

"California Stars" may well be the most famous Woody Guthrie song he never recorded. The iconic songwriter died in 1967, but his songs found new life 30 years later, after his daughter Nora uncovered thousands of his unrecorded lyrics. She got in touch with British singer Billy Bragg and the band Wilco, who put music to many of these unheard songs and released them in a series of collections called "Mermaid Avenue". As part of our series "California Songs," KQED's Rachael Marcus spoke with Nora Guthrie about how one of the most popular songs of this modern collaboration came together.


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