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Five Songs For California

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California is like the U2 of the United States. Even when the state isn't up to anything it gets more attention than most of the others combined. Imagine what it's like in North Dakota. Not many people come to visit. Not many people know where it is. And Canada sits uncomfortably close on top of it. While California has endless inviting days of sun and hogs its coastline so Nevada ain't getting none. Sure, it has natural disasters. What do you expect with so much plastic surgery? But everyone, it seems--even David Ackles--has written a song about it. We narrowed it down to five. It wasn't easy. It was like trying to fit two weeks of dirty clothes into one suitcase. Everything fits eventually, but man does it smell.

"Californication"--Red Hot Chili Peppers: Regular readers know I'm a huge fan of Anthony Kiedis and his super rhyming abilities. And when he makes up words, he's even better. I only hope when he's 60 years old that he continues to perform much like Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger and insists on showing up shirtless and doing calisthenics while chasing Flea behind the amplifiers.

"California"--Joni Mitchell: It's no coincidence that so many Canadians end up settling in California. The weather's better. End of story. That and the money's pretty good if you succeed. Joni said she wanted to make a lot of money and quit the crazy scene and she did just that. She's lived the life she's dreamed. Yet she seems a little cranky sometimes. Begging the question of what makes true happiness? Maybe a slot on the Real Housewives Of Orange County would boost her self-esteem? I'm sure her boyfriend would buy her a Rolex if she asked nicely.

"Hotel California"--Eagles: Listen, I don't want them here either. But the California Tourism and Trade Department Bylaws clearly stipulate you can't have a conversation about the state without at least one gratuitous mention of the Eagles and their best-selling album Hotel California. So here it is. Welcome. Now take off your shoes. And pants.

"California Dreamin'"--The Mamas and the Papas: You want to know why California is so crowded and North Dakota is not? Blame this song. When the rest of us are suffering through long, cold, gray days, millions of others are relaxing in overwhelming sunlight and soothing heat. These are people who complain when it rains. Because as another song says, it never rains there. In my next life, I intend to come back as a rock in California. Look for me.

"California Uber Alles"--Dead Kennedys: Some people were born to complain. I should know. I'm one of them. Likening California to a fascist police state and Nazi Germany seems a tad, how shall we say, overdone. I mean, I'm sure there are some not so friendly police. We have a few around here, too, who expect a man to drive reasonably sober. But unless the California Highway Patrol is currently outfitted like UPS workers, the likening to Brown Shirts seems a little much. And does anyone sing about Jerry Brown anymore? And wasn't he kooky to begin with?

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