"California Stars" as written by Jeff Tweedy, Jay Bennett and Woody Guthrie....
I'd like to rest my heavy head tonight
On a bed of California stars
I'd like to lay my weary bones tonight
On a bed of California stars

I'd love to feel
Your hand touching mine
And tell me why
I must keep working on

Yes I'd give my life
To lay my head tonight on a bed
Of California stars

I'd like to dream
My troubles all away
On a bed of California stars

Jump up from my star bed
Make another day
Underneath my California stars
They hang like grapes
On vines that shine
And warm the lovers' glass
Like friendly wine

So I'd give this world
Just to dream a dream with you
On our bed of California stars

I'd like to rest my heavy head tonight
On a bed of California stars
I'd like to lay my weary bones tonight
On a bed of California stars

I'd love to feel
Your hand touching mine
And tell me why
I must keep working on

Yes I'd give my life
To lay my head tonight on a bed
Of California stars

I'd like to dream
My troubles all away
On a bed of California stars

Jump up from my star bed
Make another day
Underneath my California stars

They hang like grapes
On vines that shine
And warm the lovers' glass
Like friendly wine

So I'd give this world
Just to dream a dream with you
On our bed of California stars

So I'd give this world
Just to dream a dream with you
On our bed of California stars

(Dream a dream with you)


Lyrics submitted by pro-voice

"California Stars" as written by Woody Guthrie Jeff Tweedy

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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California Stars song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentLove this song and the fact that Wilco has been closing shows with it on their Sky Blue Sky tour summer 2007. There isn't a lot of cryptic messaging here from Woody Guthrie. Although it is interesting to point out that since he wrote it, California Stars has lost its initial meaning: "California Stars" is actually a very complex pattern used in quiltmaking. So while the current manifestation ("California!!!" and everything that symbolizes in today's world) of the song is certainly warranted, keep in mind that Woody actually was making a much simpler point about the small things in life.
    GoodPoopon August 21, 2007   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI've always thought that this song must be a Guthrie song from the Dust Bowl. During the Dust Bowl in the 1930's 15% of the population of Oklahoma moved to California. The song suggests to me a yearning to move West to California and hopefully a chance at a life that was more than grinding poverty ("Tell me why I must keep workin' on..."). I think that GoodPoop makes a great observation that adds another level of depth to the song, the singer wants to dream with his love in ease and plenty in their bed with a quilt of a popular pattern which is used as a metaphor for the better life that awaits them in California (Jump up from my starbed make another day underneath my California stars").
    BeadBeemanon September 22, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCertainly because Tweedy didn't write it this contains none of the trademark anxiety, frustration, longing or self-loathing. However, he does make the words his own. For me this lyric boils down to this: two young people in love are laying on a grassy meadow on a summer night, warm breeze blowing, and they're looking at the stars dreaming of the future. Their thoughts drift of in this idyllic setting. It's the beginning of the 20th century and the guy's got a thankless, low-pay job but he's willing to endure it just as long as he's got these magic moments every so often with his sweetheart. The desire to "rest their head on california stars" feels like a longing for a vacation, and consequently a more financially stable life, but for now they can just look at them and they're happy. Or you know, I could be wrong lol.


    just to dream a dream with you
    On a bed of California stars
    iattbyhon February 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just finished Bob Dylan's autobiography, "Chronicles", where he mentions this famous set of songs. This is, of course, one of the song lyrics written by Woodie Guthrie but never put to music during his lifetime. Bob Dylan used to go to Guthrie's bedside (in a mental institution with Huntington's disease) once a week in 1960 and play Guthrie's songs for Guthrie. Guthrie told Dylan he could have the lyrics for ~400 songs under his old bed in New Jersey, since he didn't expect to ever be released from the facility. So Dylan took the train out to Guthrie's former home, slogged through a swamp, and knocked on the door. But the Guthrie friend/babysitter wouldn't let him in. So Dylan comments that 40 years later, Guthrie's granddaughter offered these lyrics to Billy Bragg and Wilco, even though Dylan should have had first dibs years before the Wilco bandmembers were even born. I can't imagine this song being any better than Tweedy made it, but it's an interesting story that Dylan attempts to tell without conveying any bitterness.
    mkilbyon February 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThanks for the story. I've been wanting to pick the autobiography up. Hopefully this will be incentive for me to actually go get it.

    And yes. Being born, raised and still living in California, it's great to know this song is out there. I think I was listening to this on the 5 once actually, late at night.
    Fypaston March 29, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentif i ever were to be married i'd definitely want it played at the wedding...haha. seriously though this is one of my favorite songs. period.

    it's about the comfort he finds with somebody. california represents that for him, and I love the use of napa valley imagery. I grew up in that area so this song is really close to my heart.

    Edited by delial on May 28 2008, at 06:22AM

    delialon July 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    MemoryI want this song to be my wedding song. It is very dreamy, I love playing it in the car at night with the windows down, ooh do I!
    pinklemonadeon August 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone whose driven down the 5 in the middle of the night has felt this song, whether they have heard the song or not.
    gilbagon June 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionThis song is very dreamy. Woody Guthrie is a treasure!
    pro-voiceon December 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBead Beeman,

    Yours is an interesting interpretation. But I don't think that there's anything hidden beneath this song. I simply think it's about a time (before smog) when a young romantic man would just lie on his back on a hillside, stargaze, and think of his true love.
    Susan_The_BassPlayeon November 25, 2007   Link

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