IMHO, californication is a witty play on words as it captures a certain way of life in a particular location and puts it all into one expression. I wonder, though, whether the word is a neologism which was created fairly recently by a clever song writer or whether it has been around for much longer. What are the origins, when was it first used?
It’s at least as far back as 1966 in Time Magazine. And to get there it’s probably much older.
The term is portmanteau word: California + fornication.
Google N-gram viewer fails us in this case, not giving any results.
Wikipedia agrees with jezza that the first recorded use is 1966, and giving further background:
California, by the way, is curiously appropriate for this, and not just because it has -forni- in it. The name comes from a 1510 novel that has been described as “mildly pornographic”. To quote from a translation:
Here’s the mention of “californication” in the May 6, 1966 issue of Time:
Note that the term isn’t defined. It’s used like it already was a common term. I suspect that it had existed for decades, but magazine and newspaper writers were reluctant to use it because it was a little risqué. The entry from Wikipedia on the word says that the attitude (opposition to becoming like California) had certainly existed since at least the 1940’s.
“Don’t Californicate Oregon” was a common sticker around 1985 or so, at least in northern Cal.
Which was why you also saw quite a few “Welcome to California. Now go home.” stickers, too.
I first heard the term when I lived in Colorado in the 1970s.
Did you try it with a capital initial C?
There’s a 1955 witticism: “Californication: A type of concubinage with frequent changes of partner, in Hollywood circles often rendered legal by marriage ceremonies.”
and one earlier (1947) usage in the biography of one Isaac Kalloch:
"Isaac was pictured as the only male in the state who could satisfy his many succubi, and the Californication took place on his couch in City Hall, in the Temple, in saloons, in his carriage, in his home, oh, just anywhere. "
Google Books sources that one to a journal, The American Book Collector. I wouldn’t trust the date Google gives; as a heavy user of Google Books I can attest that its dating of journals, magazines, and government reports is very unreliable.
Not a written cite, but my Dad talked about there being Don’t Californicate Oregon postcards and bumper stickers being available for purchase in Oregon before I was born, and that was 1956.
Maybe a search for postcards or bumper stickers would bring up earlier dates.