Story Behind the Song: Big & Rich, ‘California’
"California," the debut single from Big & Rich's Did It for the Party album, was written by John Rich, along with two of his favorite co-writers, Vicky McGehee and Rodney Clawson. The tune, a twist on the typical heartbreak song, was inspired by thinking about pursuing a career more than a romance; Tim McGraw recorded his own version of the song -- featuring harmonies by Big & Rich -- for his 2015 album, Damn Country Music.
Below, Rich recalls to The Boot the day he, McGehee and Clawson wrote "California."
“California” is a song I wrote with two of my longest buddies: Vicky McGehee, who, she and I have, I think, had 10 Top 10s together. I love writing with her because she brings that female perspective to a room when you’re writing a song. A bunch of guys sitting around writing songs, saying, “Oh, girls are gonna love it when they hear that line” -- well, how the hell do we know? We don’t know. Put somebody like Vicky in there, and that’s a great person to follow when you’re doing a song.
And then the other writer is Rodney Clawson, who was my basketball coach in the 7th grade in Amarillo, Texas.
So, I’m in the room writing “California” with Vicky and Rodney. There’s nobody tighter than the three of us when it comes to songwriting. So I lay this idea on them: I said, “The song is called "She’s in Love With California.""
Rodney goes, “I like that. What’s the story?”
I said, “Man, so many people chase the American Dream -- they’re going after something huge. To do that, it requires sacrifice: People get left behind, situations get left behind, the whole town gets left behind, but they’re going for it. What if we wrote a country song about somebody leaving somebody, not for somebody else but leaving them for an idea of what they’re going for in their life: 'She’s in love with California, and it’s breaking my heart'?"
They went, “Yeah, that’s good.”
So we put this Eagles groove underneath it -- this easy-going flow -- and really told a really cool story that I think a lot of people identify with.
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