Though it's only been a few months since the release of Dripfield, which contained a number of songs that have long sat in the band’s live repertoire, the folks over at Goose are continuing to load up on the unreleased material in 2022. Songs like “Red Bird” (which was previously spotlighted in “The Voice Beneath the Quill”), “Animal” and “Dr. Darkness” have all made debuts this year while simultaneously cementing themselves as favorites among the flock. Among those tunes that debuted this year, one tune that has noticeably not been taken for a much of a proper jam has been “California Magic.” And that’s okay.
Debuting at the 9:30 Club back in March, “California Magic” drips with blues-y goodness and packs a punch for being a rather compact arrangement. The song evokes the sound of early-70s Grateful Dead (particularly songs like “Loser” and “Tennessee Jed”), while also retaining the authenticity of what has made Goose a household name in the jam community: air-tight harmonies and complimentary instrumentals.
Though the song shares a name with a magic-themed supper club in California (according to a quick Google search), the song is less about the mysticism or the occult as it is about how we fill our everyday lives. As we enter “spooky season,” we figured this is the best time to demystify the spellbinding aura surrounding “California Magic.”
The first verse in the song gives way to images of different forms of religious practice as well as some elements of mysticism.
“Cryptic mystic/Fortune teller picnic/There’s nothing wrong with/A little California magic,” Rick ushers after a smooth, blues-infused intro. Rick builds upon exploring these themes when he talks about a “Preacher on a beach” and lifesaving rollerblades.
At this point, one assumes the band is just setting the scene of what a Californian beach might look like with rollerblading people skating by and individuals discussing their beliefs on the pier. However, when the chorus comes around, we are offered a bit of a second guess at what this song is about.
“Jesus do you have/Kimolas chase the rabbit/Don’t you know that/Soldier’s California magic,” provides some more context with Rick questioning whether things are supposed to happen for a reason, like how the Kimola (a very cute dog breed) will always chase the rabbit.
The next line doesn’t limit this fulfillment in life to just a higher power — it also explores the material aspects of life with images of kids dancing at some sort of techno music gathering and the sleek image of a Chevy Impala cruising throughout a neighborhood. Though the material goods may be seen as less fulfilling than a spiritual livelihood, it is still acknowledged as one way of seeking personal fulfillment.
The song repeats the first verse and chorus again until it breaks for a nice micro jam but by the time we finally arrive at the jam, we finally get what Rick is trying to tell us. We’re being told that there are many paths toward self-actualization and satisfaction while on this earth. For some, it is joining in the communal energy of live music while for others, it's finding oneself through religion or mysticism. “California Magic” can either be the path of self-fulfillment or the ultimate goal.
That goal is what we constantly strive for in our everyday lives, and we shouldn’t judge others who choose to find that “California Magic” in different ways. We are all the Kimolas chasing after the rabbit that is life. For many of us, that “magic” manifests itself through the music of this band that we love so much; it provides a rhythm of life as we walk on by, as famously stated in “Tumble.”
Since “California Magic” has only been played 10 times total so far at the time of this feature (according to elgoose.net), there aren’t too many takes to choose from yet - however, these are what we believe are the best current versions played so far:
As they say, the third time’s the charm. This “California Magic” is the longest version yet with a slightly extended intro and a jam after the traditional end of the song that teases the Jaws theme. It’s super Ted and leads into another 2022 new tune, “Dr. Darkness”
Radio City Music Hall
New York, NY
This version is notable for a variety of reasons: this song not only opened the two-night run, but it was also the first full-band acoustic take on the song. The jam in this version really starts cooking around the 6:20 mark when Ben picks up the tempo and the band dives into an acoustic Dead-like boogie.
Note: We are not affiliated, associated with or in any way officially connected to Goose.
We just love the band and community that much.