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Singing Of California: State Portrayed In Multiple Musical Styles
The summit of Mt. Whitney at 14,505 feet. DENNIS WYATT/209 Living

I love California from her beaches, to her valleys, to her deserts, and to her highest reaches.

What I’m not wild about is her state song.

It is not “California, Here I Come” as many mistakenly believe.

It is “I Love You, California”, a ditty more worthy of an off Broadway production than a state where man has been inspired to match her mountains and where there is more of a variety of geographic and natural wonders than most nations harbor.

The state song’s lyrics glaringly leave out reference to a third of California that is covered with deserts as well as skips over its sandy beaches opting instead to marvel at “the grand old ocean” and its “rugged shore”. It was written in 1913 by Francis Beatty Silverwood and put to music the same year by Abraham Franklin Frankenstein.

It was adopted as the state song on April 26, 1951 and re-adopted in 1987.

If you Google a free video of the song its sounds like something that was whipped up to play on a piano at the old Shakey Pizza parlors. It served as the official song at expositions conducted in 1915 in San Diego and San Francisco.

You may remember hearing the state song when Jeep used it in California-specific TV ads in late 2012.

“California, Here I Come” that is more familiar is a cut above “I Love You, California” given it was actually written for a Broadway play. Specifically it was for the 1921 musical “Bombo” starring Al Johnson who is credited with co-authoring the song. There were numerous attempts to make it the state song after people winced when the legislature in 1951 passed a resolution making “I Love You, California” the state song.

The last effort to do so in 1988 failed as well.

While “California, Here I Come” is easier on the ears and easier to have the lyrics burned in your memory by envisioning the state it sings about, there’s not a snowball chance in Death Valley at mid-day on Aug. 15 that it can ever dislodge “I Love You, California” in the future. That’s because the PC movement would make it impossible for anything Al Jolson touched to be the official anything in America 2020 even though the song and Broadway show were far removed from his days of blackface acting.

Neither song, from my perspective, is worthy of being the California State song.

My pick by far would be “California” sung by Frank Sinatra. Everything from the lyrics to the score does the Golden State justice. It’s more of a love song in awe of her beauty and creation than tunes more suited to an old-time county fair.

The song as it unfolds sparks a vivid image of the natural wonders of California.

While I might be partial to Sinatra, I am even more partial to California. The state needs a song that inspires and strives to reflect what nature created instead of some ditty Johnny might sing on his way to buy a bunch of blue ribbons for a girl he has a crush on.

Sinatra’s love song makes it clear California is a land that paradise could well be jealous of.

So if you are running out of things to do during the pandemic Google the three songs and listen to each.

Or you can just read the lyrics of each below. Even without music, “California” is true poetry.



“I Love You, California”


I love you, California, you're the greatest state of all.

I love you in the winter, summer, spring and in the fall.

I love your fertile valleys; your dear mountains I adore.

I love your grand old ocean and I love her rugged shore.


When the snow crowned Golden Sierras

Keep their watch o'er the valleys bloom,

It is there I would be in our land by the sea,

Every breeze bearing rich perfume.

It is here nature gives of her rarest. It is Home Sweet Home to me,

And I know when I die I shall breathe my last sigh

For my sunny California.


I love your red-wood forests – love your fields of yellow grain.

I love your summer breezes and I love your winter rain.

I love you, land of flowers; land of honey, fruit and wine.

I love you, California; you have won this heart of mine.


I love your old gray Missions – love your vineyards stretching far.

I love you, California, with your Golden Gate ajar.

I love your purple sun-sets, love your skies of azure blue.

I love you, California; I just can't help loving you.


I love you, Catalina, you are very dear to me.

I love you, Tamalpais, and I love Yosemite.

I love you, Land of Sunshine, half your beauties are untold.

I loved you in my childhood, and I'll love you when I'm old.



“California, Here I Come”


When the wintry winds start blowing

And the snow is starting to fall

Then my eyes turn westward knowing

That's the place that I love best of all

California, I've been blue

Since I've been away from you.

I can't wait till I get going

Even now I'm starting in a call

California, here I come

Right back where I started from

Where bowers are flowers bloom in the spring

Each morning at dawning

Birdies sing and everything

A sun kissed miss said "Don't be late!"

That's why I can hardly wait,

Open up that Golden Gate!

California, here I come!




I've known her valleys, I've known her mountains

Her missions and her courtyards and her fountains

The giant redwoods towering in the skies of her

That grow as though as they know they show the size of her


I've often wandered her farthest reaches

Her deserts and her snow and, yes, her beaches

A land that paradise could well be jealous of

That's California, California, blessed by heaven from above

That's California, land I love


(I've known her valleys, I've known her mountains)

(Her missions and her courtyards and her fountains)

(The giant redwoods towering in the skies of her)

(That grow as though as they know they show the size of her)


I've often wandered her farthest reaches

Her deserts and her snows and, yes, her beaches

A land that paradise could well be jealous of

That's California, California, bless'd by heaven from above

That's California, the land I love.