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10 Songs About Southern California

Updated on July 8, 2011
Southern California sunset / E. A. Wright
Southern California sunset / E. A. Wright

Songs About Southern California

Much of the Southern California landscape runs together in a blur of roads, smog and sprawl, but the area leaves a lasting impression — one that has been captured many times in song.

These 10 songs about places in Southern California are like a musical roadtrip across the region from San Diego to San Simeon. Some songs are dark; others celebratory.

Southern California Cities

Los Angeles — which has been the subject of countless songs on its own — is on the list, of course. So are Malibu and Pasadena. Even Bakersfield has its songs.

1) AVALON

"Catalina"
Seven Foot Wave

  • The place: Avalon is a city on Santa Catalina Island off the the Southern California coast. It's a popular destination for boaters and day trippers.
  • From the song: "We should set a date and make it late, I hear the island really comes alive at night... By the ocean we'll be in Avalon."

2) BAKERSFIELD

"Bakersfield Bound"
Chris Hillman

  • The place: Bakersfield is in the San Joaquin Valley at the southern end of California's agricultural, irrigated heart. In the early 20th century, the area drew farming families, like the Joad family in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath. (Note: The book was initially banned in Bakersfield.)
  • From the song: "We were Bakersfield bound, like so many gone before ..."

3) BEVERLY HILLS

"Beverly Hills"

Weezer

  • The place: Before the mansions, before the movie stars, Beverly Hills was known for its oil fields. Some of this liquid gold is still left, but the city is more famous for the zip code: 90210.
  • From the song: "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..."

4) HOLLYWOOD

"Hollywood"

Daniel Powter

  • The place: Hollywood is part of Los Angeles, and is not its own city. If the landmark "Hollywood" sign in the hills creates the wrong impression, consider it yet another fabulous Tinseltown fiction.
  • From the song: "You could be my star for the weekend. Do you like your Hollywood?"

5) MALIBU

"Malibu"
Hole

  • The place: Scrunched between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Malibu is known for beaches, surfers, money and wildfires.
  • From the song: "You know what to do: Oh, baby, drive away to Malibu."

6) LOS ANGELES

"All I Wanna Do"
Sheryl Crow

  • The place: Los Angeles, once a Spanish mission town, is now a sprawling city of more than 3.8 million people.
  • From the song: "This ain't no disco. This ain't no country club either. This is LA."

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7) PASADENA

"Pasadena Girl"

Nellie McKay

  • The place: Just east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel valley, Pasadena is the home of Caltech and the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • From the song: "Having somebody mightn't be the best idea for me, Pasadena girl."

8) SAN DIEGO

"San Diego"

Parmalee

  • The place: San Diego is a city with great beaches, and it's also a border town, just a freeway away from Tijuana, Mexico.
  • From the song: "She left heaven for San Diego."

9) SAN SIMEON

"San Simeon"
Goldfinger

  • The place: San Simeon is a small tourist town at the south end of the Big Sur coast. It's still a relatively isolated part of the state, and it's the nearest town to Hearst Castle, the over-the-top mansion William Randolph Hearst built in the nearby hills.
  • From the song: "Wherever I go, wherever I stay, my mind will always be in San Simeon."

10) SANTA MONICA

"Santa Monica"

Theory Of A Deadman

  • The place: Santa Monica is a smaller neighbor of Los Angeles. The city is known for its beaches and its pier.
  • From the song: "I just want to feel some sunshine, I just want to find some place to be alone."

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