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"Going to California"
Song by Led Zeppelin

from the album Led Zeppelin IV

Released 8 November 1971
Recorded December 1970 – March 1971
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:31
Label Atlantic Records
Writer Page/Plant
Producer Jimmy Page
Led Zeppelin IV track listing
"Four Sticks"
"Going to California"
"When the Levee Breaks"

"Going to California" is the penultimate song performed by the English rock band Led Zeppelin on their fourth album, released in 1971.



The song's wistful 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 four of the album's other tracks.

The song is reportedly about Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, with whom Plant and Page were both infatuated. In live performances of the song, Plant would often say the name "Joni" after this stanza (which is thought to have referenced Mitchell's 1967 composition "I Had a King"):

To find a Queen without a King,
They say she plays guitar and cries, and sings

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."[1] In a 2007 interview with the same magazine, Plant stated that the song was about "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..."

This 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 the album, they coincidentally experienced a minor earthquake.[2] At this point it was known as "Guide to California".[2]

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.[2] One live version, from Led Zeppelin's performance at Earls Court in 1975, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD.

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.


Cover versions

  • 1993: Dread Zeppelin (Hot & Spicy Beanburger)
  • 1994: Marc Jöcis (State of the Heart)
  • 1995: Never the Bride (Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 1995: Michael White & The White (Plays the Music of Led Zeppelin)
  • 1996: Edgar Cruz (The A.R.T. of Edgar Cruz)
  • 1997: Jaz Coleman and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Kashmir: Symphonic Led Zeppelin)
  • 1997: Zakk Wylde (Stairway to Heaven)
  • 1998: Morgaua Quartet (Destruction: Rock Meets Strings)
  • 1998: Cinnamon (The Song Replays the Same II)
  • 1998: Pearl Jam ("Given to Fly", instrumental cover)
  • 1999: Great White (Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 1999: The String Quartet (The String Quartet Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 1999: Jay Aston (The Song Remains Remixed: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, Rosetta Stone remix)
  • 2000: Joseph Patrick Moore (Soul Cloud)
  • 2000: Clove (Go)
  • 2000: Mario da Silva (Meet Mario)
  • 2000: Dennis Caplinger (Pickin' on Zeppelin: A Tribute)
  • 2001: Richard DeVinck (Going to California: A Classical Guitarist's Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2001: Out of Phase (A Tribute to Led Zeppelin IV)
  • 2001: Never Never (Never Never Tribute II)
  • 2001: Simply Led (From the Land of the Ice and Snow)
  • 2002: Katherine Ramirez (Livin, Lovin, Played: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2003: Fuel (Something Like Human [bonus tracks edition])
  • 2004: Paul Gilbert with John Paul Jones (Guitar Wars)
  • 2004: Hampton String Quartet (HSQ Rides Again)
  • 2004: Jamie Reno with Randi Driscoll (All American Music)
  • 2004: Benjamin Levine (Chamber Maid: The Baroque Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2004: The Classic Rock String Quartet (The Led Zeppelin Chamber Suite: A Classic Rock Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2005: Liz Larin (Wake Up, Start Dreaming)
  • 2005: Sly and Robbie (The Rhythm Remains the Same: Sly & Robbie Greets Led Zeppelin)
  • 2005: Sun Palace (Give Me a Perfect World)
  • 2005: The Young Unknowns (The East Village Sessions: Volume 1)
  • 2005: Led Zepagain (A Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2006: The Analogues (The Analogues)
  • 2006: Julian Coryell (Undercovers)
  • 2006: Bar 12 (Start the Machine)
  • 2006: The Rockies (The Hits Re-Loaded: The Music of Led Zeppelin)
  • 2006: Michael Armstrong (Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Led Zeppelin)
  • 2007: Jake Shimabukuro (My Life)
  • 2007: Kenny James (Give Me Peace)
  • 2007: Anastasia Gilliam (Slip Beneath the Covers)
  • 2007: Dawn Tyler Watson & Paul Deslauriers (En Duo)
  • 2007: Pascal Mono (La Rascasse: Monte Carlo, Volume I)
  • 2007: The Boys from County Nashville (Long Ago and Far Away: The Celtic Tribute to Led Zeppelin)
  • 2007: The Nowtet (The Nowtet Plays Zep!)
  • 2008: Davey T Hamilton (Classics)
  • 2008: Lore Constantine (Piano Expressions)
  • 2008: Letz Zep (In Concert)
  • 2009: Ben Lapps (The New Color)
  • 2009: Hall Pass (Hard Rock Covers)


  • Lewis, Dave (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  • Welch, Chris (1998) Led Zeppelin: Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song, ISBN 1-56025-818-7


  1. ^ Chuck Klosterman, "Not a Whole Lotta Love", Spin, September 2002.
  2. ^ a b c Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9.

External links



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