We’ve Added More Songs to the California Soundtrack

It’s Friday. We’ve added more of your picks to our Golden State playlist. Plus, triple-digit temperatures are expected in large swaths of California.

“California” by San Diego’s Delta Spirit made the list.Credit…Chad Batka for The New York Times

What music perfectly captures California? What song reflects the state’s grand sense of promise and the grittier reality, the natural beauty and the natural disasters?

This pursuit is far from a science, as no one song, or even 10, can encapsulate such a huge and diverse state. In fact, over the past few months, you have suggested that nearly 1,000 tracks be included in the California Soundtrack, our evolving playlist dedicated to the Golden State.

Today, I’ve added a few dozen of your picks. Some of the most recommended in this round were the Youngbloods’ “Hippie from Olema No. 5” (2003), “California” by Delta Spirit (2012) and “Mill Valley” by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class (1970).

You can peruse the full list of California songs here (the latest additions are in bold) or listen here.

As always, the California Soundtrack is a work in progress that we’ll continue editing and building. Email your Golden State song recommendation and a few lines about why you think it deserves inclusion to

And now for some of your latest choices:

“Grace Cathedral Hill” by the Decemberists (2002)

“My wife and I spent about five years living a five-minute walk away from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, taking the cable car home to our place off Hyde Street after baseball games at what was then called AT&T Park. Sometimes the operators wouldn’t charge the locals for the ride late at night. Nothing like this song to take me back to the old neighborhood, which we had to leave after outgrowing our tiny rent-controlled apartment.” — Eric Wittmershaus, Santa Rosa

“Lonesome L.A. Cowboy” by New Riders of the Purple Sage (1973)

“I’ve lived a lot of places but don’t miss any of them like I miss San Diego. It’s an L.A. song, but it perfectly captures that ambivalent, uniquely Southern Californian fatalism about creativity and aesthetics. Plus it name-checks Kris Kristofferson.” — David R. Haines, Washington, D.C.

“Adios to California” by John Hiatt (2011)

“I’ve long thought that the best short story writer in America doesn’t write short stories. Instead, it’s John Hiatt, in his endlessly raw and fertile lyrics in which he’s never stopped fingering the wounds caused by just being alive — a creative endurance especially heartening to someone exactly his age. ‘Adios to California,’ with its keening steel pedal guitar, invokes a lost ‘back East,’ the phrase native Californians use as a shorthand for everywhere that’s not here, while the song’s narrator relinquishes his hope and desire for someone who has come to California and cannot, or will not, leave, even if a dream has died.” — Patrick Cosgrove, Davis

Merle Haggard, on a bicycle in an old family photo, grew up just outside Bakersfield. The rest of the family are, from left, his parents, James Francis and Flossie Mae; his brother Lowell; and his sister Lillian.Credit…Monica Almeida for The New York Times

“California Cottonfields” by Merle Haggard and the Strangers (1971)

“This song tells a wonderfully detailed yet compact story about the later stages of the Dust Bowl migration from Oklahoma and other affected states that took place in the 1940s. It is in every word my father’s story, even echoing the exact year he and his family made the trek. They ended up picking fruit (not cotton), as so many did, eventually landing in Bakersfield where Haggard’s family also landed. It’s quite possible my father (five years older than Merle) might have passed him on the street as a kid. I learned to play and sing the song recently, and it always amazes me how closely it tracks my father’s migration story.” — George Cothran, Pacifica

“Snow in San Anselmo” by Van Morrison (1973)

“The song conjures the magical sense of beauty and hush of a first snowfall — and I’m from New York so I know that magic of a first snowfall quite intimately. The song catches Van in a positive mood shortly after transporting himself and Janet Planet from Woodstock, N.Y., to Marin County. I guess he brought a bit of snow with him in his move west.” — Tom Parker, Chico

Sean Thackrey at his winery in Bolinas in 1993. Credit… Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The rest of the news

  • Sean Thackrey: The polymath who developed a cult following as one of California’s most eccentric winemakers died on May 31 in Walnut Creek.

  • Teens sleep in: Starting July 1, California will become the first state requiring public high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and middle schools no earlier than 8 a.m., The Atlantic reports.

  • Gun safety proposal: Influenced by a proposal by Representative Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara, the U.S. House passed a “red flag” bill on Thursday that would temporarily remove guns from those deemed to be dangerous, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Excessive heat warning: Temperatures as high as 117 degrees are expected in parts of San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial Counties through Sunday night.

  • Sriracha shortage: Huy Fong Inc., the Southern California maker of Sriracha hot sauce, is suspending sales over the summer because of a chile shortage, The Associated Press reports.

  • Church abuse: The leader of La Luz del Mundo, a Mexico-based church, was sentenced on Wednesday to more than 16 years in prison for sexually abusing three minors.


  • Excessive heat warning: Temperatures up to 107 degrees are expected starting on Friday morning in Cuyama Valley and interior San Luis Obispo County. Dangerous heat is also expected in northwestern Kern County and in the San Joaquin Valley.

  • Garlic festival: A new California Garlic Festival is coming to Stockton in August, SFGate reports.


  • Excessive heat warning: Temperatures as high as 106 degrees are expected across large swaths of inland Northern California, including the Sacramento Valley, starting on Friday morning.

  • Mask divide: With Covid-19 cases on the rise, San Francisco is facing some scrutiny for its decision not to reinstate indoor mask mandates, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Criminal justice reform: In Alameda County, many voters are embracing progressives who want to overhaul the criminal justice system, The Oaklandside reports.

Credit…Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times

What we’re eating

Twenty-eight ways to cook with blueberries.

Credit…The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Lisa Dryan-Zagala, who recommends visiting the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

And before you go, some good news

On May 4, someone stole Eddie Moren’s wheelchair while the great-grandfather and Army veteran was sitting outside his home in San Diego. The chair had been left outside because it was too heavy for his wife, Sandi, to lift and carry into the house.

Sandi posted about the theft on Nextdoor, which quickly drew the attention of their neighbor Helen Larch-Miller. Larch-Miller had never met the couple but wanted to help.

She started a GoFundMe that soon raised enough to buy Eddie a new wheelchair. Neighbors are continuing to fund-raise to hopefully buy a wheelchair ramp for the couple’s vehicle to make it easier for Eddie to travel.

“We didn’t expect any of this,” Sandi told ABC10 San Diego. “It’s just been overwhelming. The love, and the support, the generosity of everybody.”

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: A dance or a dip (5 letters).

Isabella Grullón Paz and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at


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