I love you, America, you moody awkward braying big-boned teenager of a country. Come here and give me a hug. Here’s your birthday song:

America – Ventura Highway
from Homecoming | Warner Bros. 1972
“Ventura Highway” is a smooth rock song about moving from Nebraska to California, which is a very American thing to do. I post it every year because any song with lyrics that talk about “alligator lizards in the air” deserves at least that much. The “alligator lizards” refer to the clouds in the California sky. One day in 1963, songwriter Dewey Bunnell’s family was driving down the coast from Vandenberg Air Force Base when they had a flat. While his father changed the tire, little Dewey stood by the side of the road, watching the clouds. He noticed a road sign for “Ventura” and here we are today. “Ventura Highway” also may have coined the phrase “purple rain,” which some music critics suggest Prince cribbed twelve years later.

The Ventura Freeway is a stretch of interstate in California that connects Ventura with Pasadena, and it’s one of the most congested highway in the nation.