California

Album: Light You Up (2010)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about a couple that meet in a traffic jam on the 101 highway in California. They get a place in Topanga Canyon and fall in with the glitterati of Hollywood, leaving their past lives behind.

    Mullins is from a small town in Georgia, but has always been intrigued by California, where he often travelled as a touring musician. His big hit, "Lullaby," is based in Hollywood, where he met an aspiring actress.
  • Mullins wrote this song with Chuck Cannon, whose credits include "American Soldier" by Toby Keith and "I Love the Way You Love Me" by John Michael Montgomery. In a Songfacts interview with Mullins, he explained how "California" came together. "Whenever we write together, there's typically some starting place that doesn't have anything to do with where we end up," he said. "We'll stay up all night and tackle something and then we'll keep working on it and keep working on it. This one started when we were talking about the Prince song 'Little Red Corvette,' and how he's saying her body is basically the red corvette. I just started strumming that pattern and singing the melody, and Chuck just came right out with it. He mentions a town in 'northern Mississippi' and I thought it was great because if you're a southerner, the only reference to northern Mississippi would be the North Mississippi All-Stars. Mississippi is so south, you don't even think of the word north in it, but there is northern Mississippi.

    And I came back with, 'She was raised on the Puget Sound, a third generation hippie,' and then we just took off from there - we usually answer each other's lines. Sometimes Chuck will give you a whole stanza though. It's crazy how good he is. He'll think for a little bit and then the next thing you know, you've got a brand-new stanza that's pretty much there.

    Yeah, that story was not really about anyone in particular. We just know there are a lot of broken dreams out there. I never lived there but I spent enough time in Hollywood back in the day to get a feel for it. I played the Viper Room a bunch of times and spent plenty of time walking up and down the Boulevard and got to see the underbelly of it all. Then I also got to see the richer Hollywood Hills end of it all."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Joe Elliott of Def Leppard

Joe Elliott of Def LeppardSongwriter Interviews

The Def Leppard frontman talks about their "lamentable" hit he never thought of as a single, and why he's juiced by his Mott The Hoople cover band.

Mick Jones of Foreigner

Mick Jones of ForeignerSongwriter Interviews

Foreigner's songwriter/guitarist tells the stories behind the songs "Juke Box Hero," "I Want To Know What Love Is," and many more.

Colin Hay

Colin HaySongwriter Interviews

Established as a redoubtable singer-songwriter, the Men At Work frontman explains how religion, sobriety and Jack Nicholson play into his songwriting.

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song Spoofs

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"They're Playing My Song

Shears does very little promotion, which has kept him secluded from the spotlight. What changed when Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song? Not much, really.

Billy Gould of Faith No More

Billy Gould of Faith No MoreSongwriter Interviews

Faith No More's bassist, Billy Gould, chats to us about his two new experimental projects, The Talking Book and House of Hayduk, and also shares some stories from the FNM days.