California Stars

Album: Mermaid Avenue (1998)
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The lyric was written by Woody Guthrie, but Guthrie never recorded it or wrote music down for it. No exact date is known for the lyrics - it could have been anytime from the 1930s until it 1940s, although Guthrie had. Although Guthrie's recording career was more or less over by 1947, his estate approached Billy Bragg in 1995 to set Woody's handwritten, unrecorded lyrics to music. Thus the song is a collaboration piece that took place 30 years after Guthrie died. Simple and direct, Guthrie's words paint a picture of sleeping beneath the beautiful California stars, and the lovely dreams that follow. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kevin - San Fran, CA
  • Bob Seger performed the song during his 2013 Rock and Roll Never Forgets Tour of North America. The following year he recorded it for his Ride Out album.
  • Nora Guthrie told KQED that the the lyrics for the song contained the location where it was written. "He was living at a friend's house in Long Beach, 827 Cedar Avenue, the lyric says," Guthrie said. "So whoever's living there now, this song is yours. I don't have an exact date but I believe it was the last '30s."
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Comments: 3

  • Bob from SansworldWoody's daughter Nora suggest this was written in the late 30's. Woody's transcription of the lyrics say it was written in Long Beach, 827 Cedar Avenue. I suppose it could have been in the early 40's, less likely from the 50's, but 1967 is completely unfeasible.

    http://audio.californiareport.org/archive/R201308021630/e
  • Silver from Las Angelas, CaFrom a recent Jay Bennett online interview:

    What?s been your most rewarding musical experience?

    Jay Bennett: Hands down, putting Woody Guthrie lyrics to music at the generous invitation of his daughter, Nora, and Billy Bragg. My particular highlight of this experience is also my most proud songwriting accomplishment ? writing the music for ?California Stars.?
  • Silver from Las Angelas, CaThis one is written by to Wilco's guitarist Jay Bennett (words are obviously by Woody Guthrie).
    Many feel this is the gem of the Bragg/Wilco collaboration.
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