California and You

California And You (1914)

The exoticism of California has inspired songwriters going back to the beginnings of popular music in America. The romance and longing of a sunny utopia played out in a three-minute popular song contributed to the myth of California, and the population boom from the 1880's to the present day.

Oh! you old Pacific coast, oh! you land I love the most

Edgar Leslie & Harry Puck scored eight number one hits between 1912 and 1919. They blossomed out of the creative swamp of New York's Tin Pan Alley during the declining days of Vaudeville and as the movies became popular among the working classes. Also, recorded music became an accessible commercial commodity to the middle classes. Combine genius songwriting with star performers, Albert Campbell and Harry Burr, and you have a hit!

California and You is a song about longing; the protagonist (as a male duet in close harmony) fuses together memories of the Pacific state and his sweetheart. He vows to keep his promise and return to her and happier times. With the beginning of World War I in Europe, which the US entered in 1917, and the end of the second industrial revolution, times were rapidly changing and the romance of California, with its orange groves, palm trees, and romanticized Spanish life, conjured up a desire to return to a simpler age which, in reality, never existed.

My personal copy of California and You, in large format sheet music 11" by 14". Note the palm tree, the oranges, terra cotta pot and the red tiled Spanish roof.