We’ve Added More Songs to the California Soundtrack


It’s Friday. We’ve added more of your picks to our Golden State playlist. Plus, triple-digit temperatures are expected in large swaths of California.

What music perfectly captures California? What song reflects the state’s grand sense of promise and the grittier reality, the natural beauty and the natural disasters?

This pursuit is far from a science, as no one song, or even 10, can encapsulate such a huge and diverse state. In fact, over the past few months, you have suggested that nearly 1,000 tracks be included in the California Soundtrack, our evolving playlist dedicated to the Golden State.

Today, I’ve added a few dozen of your picks. Some of the most recommended in this round were the Youngbloods’ “Hippie from Olema No. 5” (2003), “California” by Delta Spirit (2012) and “Mill Valley” by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class (1970).

You can peruse the full list of California songs here (the latest additions are in bold) or listen here.

As always, the California Soundtrack is a work in progress that we’ll continue editing and building. Email your Golden State song recommendation and a few lines about why you think it deserves inclusion to CAToday@nytimes.com.

And now for some of your latest choices:

“Grace Cathedral Hill” by the Decemberists (2002)

“My wife and I spent about five years living a five-minute walk away from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, taking the cable car home to our place off Hyde Street after baseball games at what was then called AT&T Park. Sometimes the operators wouldn’t charge the locals for the ride late at night. Nothing like this song to take me back to the old neighborhood, which we had to leave after outgrowing our tiny rent-controlled apartment.” — Eric Wittmershaus, Santa Rosa

“Lonesome L.A. Cowboy” by New Riders of the Purple Sage (1973)

“I’ve lived a lot of places but don’t miss any of them like I miss San Diego. It’s an L.A. song, but it perfectly captures that ambivalent, uniquely Southern Californian fatalism about creativity and aesthetics. Plus it name-checks Kris Kristofferson.” — David R. Haines, Washington, D.C.

“Adios to California” by John Hiatt (2011)

“I’ve long thought that the best short story writer in America doesn’t write short stories. Instead, it’s John Hiatt, in his endlessly raw and fertile lyrics in which he’s never stopped fingering the wounds caused by just being alive — a creative endurance especially heartening to someone exactly his age. ‘Adios to California,’ with its keening steel pedal guitar, invokes a lost ‘back East,’ the phrase native Californians use as a shorthand for everywhere that’s not here, while the song’s narrator relinquishes his hope and desire for someone who has come to California and cannot, or will not, leave, even if a dream has died.” — Patrick Cosgrove, Davis

“California Cottonfields” by Merle Haggard and the Strangers (1971)

“This song tells a wonderfully detailed yet compact story about the later stages of the Dust Bowl migration from Oklahoma and other affected states that took place in the 1940s. It is in every word my father’s story, even echoing the exact year he and his family made the trek. They ended up picking fruit (not cotton), as so many did, eventually landing in Bakersfield where Haggard’s family also landed. It’s quite possible my father (five years older than Merle) might have passed him on the street as a kid. I learned to play and sing the song recently, and it always amazes me how closely it tracks my father’s migration story.” — George Cothran, Pacifica

“Snow in San Anselmo” by Van Morrison (1973)

“The song conjures the magical sense of beauty and hush of a first snowfall — and I’m from New York so I know that magic of a first snowfall quite intimately. The song catches Van in a positive mood shortly after transporting himself and Janet Planet from Woodstock, N.Y., to Marin County. I guess he brought a bit of snow with him in his move west.” — Tom Parker, Chico

Today’s tip comes from Lisa Dryan-Zagala, who recommends visiting the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens:

Built by Henry Huntington to house his collection of rare books — including the Gutenberg Bible — and his wife’s collection of paintings (she had a particular fondness for Gainsborough), it is a breathtaking house and museum, but the endless rose gardens, Japanese and Chinese gardens are spectacular.

My husband proposed to me in the rose garden, and it is where my friends and I have gathered for years for high tea on special and just “missed you” occasions.

If you mention this place to many Californians they will look at you with surprise, saying, “never heard of it.” As a therapist, I have sent clients to the gardens as a homework assignment to find a way to reconnect to nature and beauty for a moment.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

On May 4, someone stole Eddie Moren’s wheelchair while the great-grandfather and Army veteran was sitting outside his home in San Diego. The chair had been left outside because it was too heavy for his wife, Sandi, to lift and carry into the house.

Sandi posted about the theft on Nextdoor, which quickly drew the attention of their neighbor Helen Larch-Miller. Larch-Miller had never met the couple but wanted to help.

She started a GoFundMe that soon raised enough to buy Eddie a new wheelchair. Neighbors are continuing to fund-raise to hopefully buy a wheelchair ramp for the couple’s vehicle to make it easier for Eddie to travel.

“We didn’t expect any of this,” Sandi told ABC10 San Diego. “It’s just been overwhelming. The love, and the support, the generosity of everybody.”


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: A dance or a dip (5 letters).



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