The Story and Sound Behind Led Zeppelin’s 1971 Song Going to California

It’s one of many origin stories featured in a new book.

In their new book Led Zeppelin All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track, authors Jean Michel Guesdon & Philippe Margotin detail the genesis behind every song recorded by the legendary rock band. The 608-page hardback tome includes the backstory of Led Zeppelin’s 1971 hit Going to California.

“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 ’60s. 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.’”

Read more about the creation on production of the song here.