When I first heard Phantom Planet's song »California« sometime in January 2003 it wasn't an instant classic but one of the songs I included on a compilation CD for the daily commute. I used to live in the Bay Area, living the Californian life, enjoying the sunshine, the beach and the amenities of this cultural diverse place and spending time in between places on the freeways singing along to the radio.
A little while later »California« was chosen as the theme song for the Fox show »The O.C.« (started in August 2003) and became a major hit - this didn't diminish my appreciation for it (I never watched »The O.C.«) but meant that Phantom Planet got a lot of airplay on all kinds of radio stations. To this day you can hear it every now and then even on Austrian radio and whenever I hear it, it causes a lot of very vivid pictures in my head.
So last week I was listening to the latest episode of This American Life »What I learned from TV« in my car in Munich, Germany. In Act 3, right around 0:33:00, Ira Glass talks about his personal experience with »The O.C.« and how he used to sing the theme song with his wife like a ritual. By the end of that emotional 5 minute radio segment a band breaks into a somewhat slant version of »California« and I found myself choking up in my car, laughing and crying at the same time actually, feeling a bit homesick and singing along:
»..driving down the 101, California here we come, right back where we started from. California! Here we come!«

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