Going to California

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"Going to California"
Song by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin IV
Released8 November 1971 (1971-11-08)
StudioHeadley Grange, Hampshire, England
Producer(s)Jimmy Page

"Going to California" is a ballad written and performed by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released from the band's untitled fourth album in 1971.

In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked "Going to California" number 11 on their list of the 40 greatest Led Zeppelin songs of all time.[3]


The song's folk-style sound, with Robert Plant on lead vocals, acoustic guitar by Jimmy Page and mandolin by John Paul Jones, contrasts with the heavy electric-amplified rock on five of the album's other tracks. Page's guitar is in the D–A–D–G–B–D tuning.[citation needed]

The song started out as a song about Californian earthquakes and when Jimmy Page, audio engineer Andy Johns and band manager Peter Grant travelled to Los Angeles to mix Led Zeppelin IV, they coincidentally experienced a minor earthquake.[4] At this point it was known as "Guide to California".[4] In an interview he gave to Spin magazine in 2002, Plant stated that the song "might be a bit embarrassing at times lyrically, but it did sum up a period of my life when I was 22."[5]

At Led Zeppelin concerts the band performed this song during their acoustic sets, first playing it on their Spring 1971 tour of the United Kingdom.[4] One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Earls Court in 1975, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD and again on the Mothership DVD. The song was also performed at all shows on Led Zeppelin's mammoth 1977 US tour.

It was performed on Plant's solo tours during 1988/1989 and at the Knebworth Silver Clef show in 1990. He played it again on his Mighty ReArranger tour, with additions of a double bass and a synthesizer.

Other versions[edit]

A different version of this song is featured on the second disc of the remastered 2CD deluxe edition of Led Zeppelin IV. This version, known as "Going to California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix)," is an instrumental recorded on January 29, 1971, with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Headley Grange with engineer Andy Johns. This mix runs 3:34, while the original version runs 3:32.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Going to California" at AllMusic
  2. ^ Philip Bashe (1 January 1985). Heavy Metal Thunder: The Music, Its History, Its Heroes. Doubleday. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-385-19797-7.
  3. ^ "'Going to California' (1971) - The 40 Greatest Led Zeppelin Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  4. ^ a b c Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.
  5. ^ Chuck Klosterman, "Not a Whole Lotta Love", Spin, September 2002.

External links[edit]