Going to California

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Going to California
Appears on Led Zeppelin IV
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 370102326
Release date 8 November 1971
Recorded January 1971 at
Headley Grange, Hampshire with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio
.Mixed at Olympic Studios, London.
Genre Folk rock, rock
Language English
Length 3 minutes 36 seconds
Composer Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Andy Johns

'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 several of the album's other tracks.

The song is reportedly about 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]

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 ironically experienced a minor earthquake.[2] At this point it was known as 'Guide to California'.[3]

Live performances

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 two 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.


  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • Robert Plant – vocals
    • John Paul Jones – mandolin, acoustic bass
    • John Bonham - tambourine, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Andy Johns - engineer, mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)


  1. Klosterman, Chuck (September 2002). "Robert Plant: Not a Whole Lotta Love". Spin 18 (9): 98. ISSN 0886-3032.
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 56. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 56. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 56. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.