If Chicago were its own nation, "Sweet Home Chicago," would surely be its national anthem, so often is that song heard in the city's famous blues clubs. Now one of the most famous blues songs ever, "Sweet Home Chicago" was first recorded by Robert Johnson in 1936, and apparently written by him. These days the refrain is usually sung, "Back to that same old place, to my sweet home Chicago" but Johnson inexplicably sang it, "Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago." Okay, so maybe he wasn't too keen on geography, but it's still a beautiful song.


Oh, baby don't you want to go?
Oh, baby don't you want to go?
Back to that land of California, to my sweet home Chicago.

Oh, baby don't you want to go?
Oh, baby don't you want to go?
Back to that land of California, to my sweet home Chicago.

Now one and one is two, two and two is four.
I'm heavy loaded, baby, I'm booked, I gotta go.
Cryin' baby, honey don't you want to go?
Back to that land of California, to my sweet home Chicago.

Now two and two is four, four and two is six.
You gonna keep on monkeyin' around with your friend, boy,
You gonna get your business all in a trick
And I'm cryin' baby, honey don't you want to go?
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago.

Now six and two is eight, eight and two is ten.
Friend, boy she trick you one time, she sure gonna do it again,
But I'm crying hey, hey, baby don't you want to go?
To the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago.

I'm going to California, from there to Des Moines, Ioway.
Somebody will tell me that you need my help someday,
Cryin' hey, hey, baby don't you want to go?
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago.

As an addition to mauler's writeup I just thought I'd add what I have found earlier with regards to the the strange phrase "back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago".

In the middle to late 19th century, because of the gold rush, "California" became synonymous with wealth and money. This use was soon abandoned in general use. However, a lot of terminology no longer used in the white community used to remain in black English for much longer, sometimes for over a generation. So it's not unlikely that the term "California" was used to portray gold, wealth and success as Robert Johnson grew up.

From that perspective, the phrase makes a lot of sense. In the 1930s Chicago was certainly the place for a black blues musician to find wealth, success and money.

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