The music for Going to California originated during the sessions at Headley Grange, in a stroke of inspiration on Jimmy Page’s part. “You didn’t have anything like a snooker table or anything like that. No recreational pursuits at all. It was really good for discipline and getting on with the job. I suppose that’s why a lot of these [songs] came at Headley Grange. For instance, Going to California and Battle Of Evermore came out.” The four members of Led Zeppelin had been continuing their journey, which led them with this song to the shores of the Pacific. Just as Page’s laid-back music is reminiscent of Californian folk rock, Plant’s lyrics extol the West Coast spirit: flower power and the counterculture and creative excitement that were at their zenith in the sixties. It is a song dedicated to “the days when things were really nice and simple, and everything was far out all the time,” to borrow words addressed to the crowd by Robert Plant at one of two concerts given by the band in Berkeley, California, in September 1971.
Many years later, in 2002, Plant would provide a little more detail, telling Spin magazine that the song was “Me reflecting on the first years of the group, when I was only about… 20, and was struggling to find myself in the midst of all the craziness of California and the band and the groupies.” The line "The Mountains and the canyons start to tremble and shake, the children of the sun begin to awake" alludes in all likelihood to the artistic community of Laurel Canyon, embodied in late sixties by Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Jackson Browne, and Jim Morrison.
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