I saw this video for the first time last weekend and was transported back to early times in my life when California first made my heart race. I’m a sappy sucker when it comes to finger pluckin’ guitar-ing of one my childhood anthems. Here are some of the all-time rock and rollers, Led Zeppelin with one of my earliest and fondest battle cries, Going to California. It’s from their Earls Court show from 1975.
My childhood obsession of California started when I was four years old visiting San Francisco for the first time. Some of my oldest memories are from that California adventure. I remember having such giddy fun standing up in the back-seat as my dad drove down “the crooked street in the world.” Man, so much joy for a little kid. I almost convinced my parents to ride down it again, but they told me that up next was “the steepest road in the world” and then drove down some random steep hill in San Francisco. It all blew my young mind so I didn’t care that they probably made that last bit up. Although, I wouldn’t doubt some of the steepest driving hills are in San Francisco.
It will be nice to return to California from London where I’ve been living for the past 2 and a half years. I made my first, fateful move to California in 1998 to start living my life in the ways I had always envisioned. It was a heartfelt culmination of listening and dreaming to that Led Zep tune. Born in Sri Lanka and living my first years mostly in the Washington, DC area suburbs of Bethesda and Potomac Maryland, I could only imagine the California that I had read about in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. These tales spoke of the human journey to find meaning, abundance, love, and happiness, while enduring and reeling from the challenges that lie in these pursuits. As a child of the 80’s, much of the popular culture in LA was delivered in packaged slices to our TV’s and mailboxes. Looking back now, I shamelessly devoured them all as I was hungry for scenes of people enjoying a life filled with music, artistry, beach fun, and the great outdoors. California is a diverse place with it’s oceans, deserts, snow capped mountains, bays, and metropolises. It’s not always rosy of course. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly as in most places, but even warnings of catastrophic Californian earth quakes did little to faze my mission to one day live and play in the golden promise land. All I could think about was the sunshine states’s glorious natural splendors, utopian weather, ceaseless adventure, entrepreneurial opportunity, and warm beautiful people. These feelings were overwhelming and undeniable, and they gave me a future to look forward to in my young life. Now that I’m returning to California, I’m getting that warm familiar sense of a brightened spirit. I have a feeling there’ll be much excitement and personal growth ahead.