Issued internationally as a single in early 1973, and performed in a loping country-shuffle beat. It is musically reminiscent of their earlier hit "California Girls"; the songs have nearly identical basslines, though "California Saga" is a country song and "California Girls" is a rocker featuring the Wrecking Crew. The song reached #84 in Billboard, but performed better in the UK (#37) and New Zealand (#15).
The version released as a single, called "California Saga (On My Way to Sunny Californ-i-a)" is a different mix than the album track and contains additional vocals from Brian Wilson not heard on the album version, as well as other differences.
Although the song has never been a live staple, it has been featured at several times throughout the years in live setlists, including during most concerts on The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour. This version featured lead vocals from Brian Wilson on the intro with Mike Love and Al Jardine splitting the vocals throughout the rest of the song.