FT5: Songs About Heading West

Summertime is vacation time. Roadtrip time. So sweaty you stick to your chair my God why don’t I live in a more temperate climate time. So where do you go at a time like this? “California! Californiaaaaaa! Here we COOOOOOOOMMMMME!” Excuse me. I believe I slipped into the theme song of the O.C. for a moment. I thought about making every track on this list “California” by Phantom Planet, but I’m fairly certain I am the only one who would think that is funny. So instead, here a legit list of songs about heading out west. Enjoy.

5. Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

Somewhere in a dark room miles from here, a film editor is putting together a montage of the clips from the 60’s. And the soundtrack to that montage? “Flowers in Your Hair.” This song is too gooey and sentimental to have aged well. But, hokey as this song is, it is evocative of its time and place. It is impossible to blast this song out of your car without having at least one person flash you an ironic peace sign. This anthem has enough allure though, that you may crack a smile and give them the peace sign back.

4. Led Zeppelin – Going to California

As some of you may have heard, Led Zeppelin was a rock and roll band. Some may even say a “hard” rock band. But when they weren’t blasting out Marshall Stacks or writing pompous epics about mystical inclined planes, Led Zeppelin found time to jam down on some sweet mandolin (and if listening to their lyrics is any indication, they also found time to read the Lord of the Rings. A lot). Like many road songs, Going to California is about starting over. So why choose California? “Someone told me there’s a girl out there/ with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.” Sounds like someone has been taking advice from Scott McKenzie.

3. Eagles of Death Metal – San Berdoo Sun

If the organizers of ACL announced that they made a mistake, and that in actuality it will be The Eagles of Death Metal headlining this year’s festival, that would be okay by me. Sloppy lo-fi rock and roll music is always good news. If we are to believe the Eagles of Death Metal, the pot of gold at the end of the magical road trip rainbow is located in San Bernardino. I remain skeptical. Still, if you’re going on a road trip, you have to go somewhere. And the Eagles of Death Metal make heading to San Bernardino sound about as fun as anywhere else.

2. Tom Waits – Goin’ Out West

If you’re a recently paroled prisoner where are you going to go to make it big? Hollywood of course. Land of optimism. Except, this is Tom Waits. So the paroled inmate bellows like a menacing lunatic. As he lists his acting qualifications: “I don’t need no make up/ I got real scars,” you get the feeling he might not make it as a leading man. Or he’ll get a reality show. Either way, a ghastly end.

1. Art Brut – Moving to L.A.

Hitting the road to start a new life is usually an act of recklessness. Eddie Argos of Art Brut is much more cautious. He is considering a move to L.A. Apparently Southern California has a lot to offer that England does not. Eddie suggests he could “hang around with Axel Rose” and “drink Hennessy with Morrissey.” If those aren’t great reasons to make Los Angeles your home, I don’t know what are. In L.A., it would seem, you have the freedom to do as please: “When I get off that plane, the first thing I’m going to do is strip naked to the waist and ride my Harley Davidson up and down Sunset Strip.” It’s a beautiful dream you have to admit.


  • Village People/Pet Shop Boys – Go West
    LL Cool J – Going Back To Cali
    Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back To Cali

    Your #5 would have been my #1. Great list.

  • Damn. Should have had LL or Biggie on there. For shame.

  • If there’s one about heading East (because California sucks) then I suggest “Midnight Train to Georgia”

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