An Update to the California Playlist

Today I’m back with updates to the California soundtrack, our project that attempts to capture the essence of the Golden State in a single playlist.

I’ve added dozens of songs based on your recommendations. Some of the most requested in this round were “Monterey” by the Animals (1968), “Valley Girl” by Frank Zappa (1982) and “Queen of California” by John Mayer (2012).

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

As always, the California soundtrack is a work in progress that we will continue to edit and build on. Send your Golden State song recommendation and a few lines on why you think it deserves inclusion to

And now for some of your final picks:

“Burnt Out Red Lights” by the Avalanches (2020)

“Rivers Cuomo singing ‘Life in California is fine with me’ has been repeated throughout the pandemic, helping me to remember how grateful I am to live in the Golden State.” — Rock Koshland, Berkeley

“Mission in the Rain” by the Jerry Garcia Band (1976)

“California may be sunny and pleasant, but it’s also dark and rainy, a weather perfectly captured by Jerry Garcia and his lyricist Robert Hunter on this beautiful song about a melancholic walk in the rain in the Mission district of San Francisco. And I learned the reality of San Francisco’s melancholy when I moved to America and the East Bay in 2008. And yes, ‘There’s a certain satisfaction in the San Francisco rain.’ Ulf Olsson, Emeryville

“Blvd Whittier”. by The Midniters (1965)

“That ‘cruising song’ could be heard at night in high school teenagers’ cars—often, a ’56 or ’57 Chevy—on the main thoroughfares of many California cities—not just Whittier.” — Jim Davis, Northridge

Sausalito Summernight by Diesel (1980)

“In 1980 I was working at a small radio station in the West of England. Two of my engineering colleagues had vacationed in the United States, renting an RV and traveling through California. Since it was the 80s, the only way to document their journey was with 35 millimeter slides. The (seemingly) hours-long slideshow they created upon their return used the Diesel track for part of the presentation. The song was never released in the UK and none of us could have pinpointed the location of the town on a map.

Twenty years later, I started a new chapter in my career and found myself living in Sausalito, where I have now retired. — Doug Ford, Sausalito

Beverly Hills by Weezer (2005)

“Just so catchy and truly a testament to Weezer’s ability to distinguish between being iconic rockers and a bunch of nerds we can all relate to.” — Michael Messina, Sacramento

“Summer Boys” by Don Henley (1984)

“I was living in Palo Alto in 1985 with my first ‘real job’, but my friends were leaving because we couldn’t buy houses (funny how things don’t change…). I took a job in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I was listening to this song in my new convertible (which I bought in California) and I was getting really wistful, “Nobody on the road, nobody on the beach. “.

I realized that I had made a very bad move; it took me a year, five months and nine days to come back here. — Scott Boutwell, Geyserville

For more:

A giant earthquake. A massive flood. Wildfires followed by choking smoke. An ice storm that cut power for days. Can you build a structure that could support them all?

Today’s travel tip comes from James Clifford, who recommends visiting the UC Santa Cruz campus:

“Travelers passing through Santa Cruz on Coast Highway 1 should consider a two-mile detour. UCSC is unique among college campuses and a wonderful place to walk around. It is built in a redwood forest, on rugged terrain, overlooking Monterey Bay. A triumph of environmentally friendly design, the campus preserves the special character of the place. Deep forest traversed by magical walkways alternates with sensational views over rolling prairies to the Big Sur Mountains. There are many formal and informal trails to explore the intricate site – its deep ravines, redwoods, oaks, bays and madrones, expansive grasslands and university buildings designed by prominent Northern California architects. The campus contains an arboretum devoted to species from the South Pacific, southern Africa, and native California. And you can visit a working farm that pioneered the development of organic gardening.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.

The first major museum retrospective of video artist Ulysses Jenkins, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

What’s the best part of spring in California? Email us at and your submission may be included in a future newsletter.

The New York Times invited teens to suggest words to fill in gaps in the English language.

Their entries captured how the students are navigating the coronavirus pandemic, the complexities of life online, and the existential feelings caused by the various challenges facing their generation. Here are some of our favorite picks:

tacine (adjective) by Paul Norberg, Cupertino

A serene, unblemished scene in nature that feels untouched by humanity. As Wendy gazed at the tacin landscapes of the Yukon, she felt an overwhelming sense of wonder.

noscipate (verb) by Olivia Liu, San Jose

Anticipating nostalgia, as when one feels nostalgic for something that has not yet passed. My basketball season is coming to an end, so I’m currently thinking about it.

fsh (name) by Neel Chellapilla, Cupertino

A joke that’s been overused and therefore not funny to anyone who’s ever heard it – like this: What do you call a fish with no eyes (i)? A fish. He started talking about a fish, which no one laughed at.

Thanks for reading. I will be back on Monday. Have a good week-end. — Soumya

PS Here today’s mini crossword, and a hint: night vision? (five letters).

Miles McKinley and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can join the team at

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