Do You Dream of Californication?

January 16, 2009

This song definitely has lyrics that are worth pondering for a bit. Consider the chorus “I dream of Californication”. When I first heard this song, I thought this phrase somehow meant “I dream of a united California” or something similar. However, what I found is that “Californication” is a play on words which is basically saying that California is perverted in its great influence, hence the term “fornication”. The lyrical content greatly backs up this notion.

Have you ever wanted to have a movie star’s life, dwell in a dreamy land of sunshine, and live smack dab in the middle of the place which sets the standard of “coolness” for the rest of the World? Then move to California! If you live there, everyone will want to be you because you’re in California! Sarcasm aside, take it from the RHCP’s. They pretty much sum up the power, phoniness, and emptiness of California in their song ‘Californication’.

The term has actually existed long before the song popularized it. Now here is a commentary of the masterful and honest lyrics of the song:

Psychic spies from China try to steal your mind’s elation

(This could refer to Eastern cultures being infatuated with, intrigued with, and covetous of Western ways and mentalities – as though there’s something more “elating” or satisfying in the land of “do whatever you want”)

Little girls from Sweden
Dream of silver screen quotations

(Western culture can at times seem appealing from a far away view because its worldwide popularity)

And if you want these kind of dreams
It’s Californication

(In other words, if you want the above fantasies or dreams to come true then the price you pay is to sell yourself out to Californication)

It’s the edge of the world
And all of western civilization

(California doesn’t look to the West to see what is “new” and “happening”. It is in essence as far as West as we will ever go, thus, all look to it to see what is “new” and “happening”)

The sun may rise in the East
At least it settles in a final location

(Just as the sun moves from the East and finally sets in the West, so California has a final say or influence over Eastern cultures. All look to the West to gleam what is supposedly most interesting)

It’s understood that Hollywood
sells Californication

(Quite literally, Hollywood sells all of its media to become even richer)

Pay your surgeon very well
To break the spell of aging
Celebrity skin is this your chin
Or is that war your waging

(This one is obvious. The Western mindset is to shun being old. Outward appearances define all)

First born unicorn

(A unicorn is a rare animal that is also extremely wild and un-tamable (except by a virgin’s touch). This could represent how California prides itself as being more special than all other places in the world, or the first media influence of its kind. Further, it is both mesmerizing and un-tamable – like a unicorn. It’s fun in the sun while its influence goes unchecked by way of being a money machine and a media power house)

Hard core soft porn

(Hard-core soft porn could be talking about how much Hollywood desensitizes us. Even to the point where what was once hard-core in our minds has become normative)

Dream of Californication
Dream of Californication

(This sarcastic phrase perhaps expresses the irony of how everyone idolizes a Californian lifestyle and worldview despite its ill-effects)

Marry me girl be my fairy to the world
Be my very own constellation
A teenage bride with a baby inside
Getting high on information

(Could refer to everyone rushing to be accepted through marriage or sex and how it’s normative for children to be born to young girls. The last part could refer to how much pressure is put on young people to learn and know facts for the sake of facts. Kids are taught from the outset how to act “proper”, not how to just be children)

And buy me a star on the boulevard
It’s Californication

(Referring to Grohman’s Chinese Theatre, which showcases different star’s handprints and names. All you need is a lot of money to get in there)

Space may be the final frontier
But it’s made in a Hollywood basement

(Could be an allusion to the hollowness of Hollywood media. While it captures our deepest imaginations and provides candy for the eyes on screen, it is still all fake and done for the love of money)

Cobain can you hear the spheres
Singing songs off station to station

(This is a tricky one. From what I’ve read there are a lot of opinions on this verse. I believe it might be referring to countless bands with no originality and talent which copy popular sounds (especially grunge – popularized by Nirvana) in order to gain quick popularity and make huge profits off record sales)

And Alderons not far away
It’s Californication

(Could be referring to Californian culture as a supposed paradise, which is likened to Alderaan in the Star Wars series. This “paradise” is not far away, however, because the influence is in your television, your music, your clothing, your radio, your speech, etc. Californication isn’t a car or plane away, but in front you)

Born and raised by those who praise
Control of population

(Is talking about how we are all raised up with the media closely around us like a parent, and the media influences our everyday lifestyles)

everybody’s been there
and I don’t mean on vacation

(Californication is all around you like the air you breath. Everyone is influenced by Californication in one form or another without even having to go to California, i.e. Hollywood media)

Destruction leads to a very rough road
But it also breeds creation

(This could be saying that media will destroy all its necessary foes (i.e. religion, absolute truth, etc) and replace (or create) it with whatever it so desires. It could also be referring to what some call “the Great Re-Learning”, whereby after all influences of evil have run their full course, we will have no possible direction to turn but back to where we started – that which we first tried to abandon)

And earthquakes are to a girl’s guitar
They’re just another good vibration

(This might be saying that any girl with looks can cause earthquakes in the media (consider Avril Lavigne and Brittany Spears). No matter how poorly talented one actually is, if they’re beautiful, they’re amazing)

And tidal waves couldn’t save the world
From Californication

(Even if a tsunami or something were to hit California, it wouldn’t erase the brainwashed effects that Californication already has on North American’s and the rest of the World. Californication is idealogical, not physical)

Pay your surgeon very well
To break the spell of aging


Sicker than the rest
There is no test
But this is what you’re craving

(Means that “yes, Californication does provide some of the most disturbing and sick things you will ever see or hear, but it doesn’t matter. You still want it because that is what is widely accepted, thus, what you’re craving to have”)

It’s kind of interesting that the RHCP’s would write this song considering how quintessential they are to California. Yet, there is none more qualified than them to pen such lyrics. They have experienced Californication more then most. Thus, the band is certainly worth listening to on the matter.

I would like to end this by simply quoting Scripture:

Ecc 12:13-14 says “Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”

Fear God and keep His commands. Why? Because God is a rewarder of what we do. God’s rewards may very well be more pleasing, meaningful, and satisfying then what Californnication has to offer us.

(Some of this commentary was borrowed here)



  1. Excellent commentary Cameron. I really enjoy reading people that take music seriously and engage it on this level. A song that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is Foo Fighters – Come Alive. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one!

  2. Thanks Gary. Good to hear from you!!! Hope you and your family are good. Tell Trevor “hi” for me when you talk to him. I’m going to work on that Foo Fighter’s song next! I’d never heard it before. Thanks for that. 🙂

  3. I listened to this song and read the lyrics several times; finally I found its meaning is very profound. This song is very realistic. People who do this kind of dream were a lot in the last century. I have been to California, it is a charming place. Fertile land, the boundless ocean, mountains with snow, and bright sun are all belong to California. That should be a place where many people yearn for —-a paradise on earth. The beauty of this song is realistic and meaningful. I do not know why this song began with “Psychic spies from China try to steal your mind’s elation at the beginning.” Perhaps, in the history, Chinese people launched the first gold rush. People are tending to benefit. And it is no different between californication and gambling. In that period, to Chinese people, I think that is a kind of brave challenge. In the 18-19 century, it’s difficult to imagine domestic life and the economic situation in china. With the dream of changing the fate to CA is acceptable. Perhaps, I study business, I always thinking from the economic point of view, until now, just about100 years, all the beautiful and rich of California should be attributed to the Gold Rush. People from variable countries pushed American economy developed quickly.
    I think this song is also trying to warn people. The dream of californication is really a daydream. This dream destroyed the entire original beauty. Maybe, this is because people always believe that tomorrow is not the same. Most people look forward to the future and fantasy. However, I think, to the Chinese people, californication is the dream of the last century. In my eyes, californication is cruel. “And tidal couldn’t save the world from californication” Many people may have on the way of californication, and tasted the most bitter and tragic fate, but they can not go back. People should have been aware, to lay down their greed, to change the thinking, and to accept the facts. No one can instruct you come out from the dream, only can their own senses. Perhaps this is mentioned in the Bible, wisdom and folly.
    California is like spring all year round, but no one will stay for the beauty of the scenery. On the way of foreign study, I also have many dreams, everyone has a dreaming place. The right place will bring you a feeling like, the sun is rise for you, seasonal is change for you, life is what you can control, and the future is looking forward to. And that place with a lot of precious memories.
    That’s what I am thinking about this song. By the way, you are a person who knows the meaning of life. Anyway, you use your own way to experience life. And thank you let me know this song.

  4. Bu co chi. Shea Shea Anna.

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