♫ California Dreamin’ ♫

I was surprised to find I hadn’t already played this one, as it is probably the one that The Mamas and the Papas are best known for.  I shall remedy that oversight tonight!

What you may not know (I didn’t) is that while this song was written by John & Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, it was first recorded by none other than Barry McGuire of “Eve of Destruction” fame!  Another thing I didn’t know … else had long since forgotten … is that The Mamas and the Papas were only together from 1965 thru 1968 when they agreed to dissolve the group.  I thought surely they were around longer than that!  They were, after all, an icon of the 1960s!

Says John Phillips about the origins of the song …

“It’s my recollection that we were at the [Hotel] Earle in New York and Michelle was asleep. I was playing the guitar. We’d been out for a walk that day and she’d just come from California and all she had was California clothing. And it snowed overnight and in the morning she didn’t know what the white stuff coming out of the sky was, because it never snowed in Southern [California]. So, we went for a walk and the song is mostly a narrative of what happened that day, stopped into a church to get her warm, and so on and so on.”

One part of the lyrics that is often mistaken is “I pretend to pray”, which is often mistaken for “I began to pray”.  And now … the song:

California Dreamin’
The Mamas & the Papas

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm)
If I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)
And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)
You know the preacher like the cold (preacher like the cold)
He knows I’m gonna stay (knows I’m gonna stay)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
If I didn’t tell her (if I didn’t tell her)
I could leave today (I could leave today)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Edmund Andrew Phillips / Michelle Gilliam Phillips
California Dreamin’ lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

36 thoughts on “♫ California Dreamin’ ♫

  1. Fantastic, not just one of my favourite groups of the 60’s but also one of my favourite songs. The world was blessed the day they got together and such a loss when they broke up and MMama Cass’s death meant no chance would they get back together. I still play their music today but it’s always great to have others appreciate them too.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad! I knew “Monday, Monday” is your favourite, but was hoping you would like this one, too. It’s hard to believe what a short time they were together, for they made much great music during that time. Stay tuned … there’s another I’ll probably play soon.
      Cwtch

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  2. Hmm, never knew there was a pretend issue. It is clearly began. I guess that some people can’t imagine John Philips praying, given his anarchist views on life, to put it nicely.
    Anyway, I’m actually surprised you didn’t choose Monday, Monday, being as this is your Monday post. My favourite of theirs (not to belittle any of their work) is Creeque Alley. I love songs about how the music world tumbled and jumbled together, and came up with so many great musicians and singers, songwriters, etc. Maybe that’s why I like Eric Burdon so much, he was always singing songs like Monterrey, The Winds of Change, River Deep, Mountain High, and suchlike. He is the chronicler of music from the slave era onwards to the late 60s.
    But Californie Dreaming is another of those Songs (that) to Aging Children Come (Joni Mitchell, as used in the movie version of Alice’s Restaurant (Arlo Guthrie), songs of innocence and joy (see comment on Dancing in the Streets, Martha and the Vandellas post last week).
    Talk about reminiscing.
    You know, of course, Denny Doherty of M&P, and Jon Michell, were Canadian, as was Buffie Ste. Marie, though she was adopted by American parents in the Canadian indigenous child adoption scandal of the 50s and 60s. For her that turned out to be a good thing, for most it was hell.
    Time to shut up.

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  3. A classic from my youth, from around the time I was getting into US music – the days of the Byrds and CS&N. Do you know of the covers band Foxes and Fossils? They published a version of this on YouTube a couple of months ago: faithful to the original, with their usual excellent harmonies and musicianship, and they got the ‘pretend’ line right too 😊

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    • Ah yes … a classic from my own youth, though I like it better now than I did back then! No, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of Foxes and Fossils, but of course you piqued my curiosity and I had to go see for myself. The lead singer isn’t too bad, but the backups fell short, in my opinion. Still, not bad. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s strange, I find that with quite a few songs from back then. Maybe the maturity in our tastes helps us appreciate them better? As for F&F, I’m glad you took a look. Tim, who took the lead on that one, doesn’t have the strongest of their voices – I don’t think it does justice to the Foxes, all of whom have contributed some great leads on other songs. Hope you don’t feel I wasted your time!

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        • I do think our tastes change as we grow older … and that isn’t just in music, but in food and other things. Some foods that I absolutely love now, I hated until I passed about 40. Same with books, clothing, and much else. No, my friend, I don’t feel that you wasted my time … I always enjoy listening to something new, checking out music I’ve never heard before. You many remember a week or so ago when I played a song by Labi Siffre. That song was recommended to me by another UK friend, David, and as soon as I started listening, I knew I liked that song, that artist. So, never hesitate to introduce me to new sounds … I love it!

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          • I’ve noticed my tastes changing too, but probably not in books: since I finished my Eng Lit degree I’ve stuck mostly to crime fiction and thrillers rather than anything more erudite! I like finding new music too. There has been so much of it over the years that I know I’ve missed loads of it. YouTube recommendations are a good source for me: I’ve watched a lot of German and Russian folk music videos this year, and I wouldn’t have thought a year ago that I could say that! Glad I didn’t waste your time!

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            • I find that some books I devoured when I was in my 20s, no longer appeal, but perhaps that’s just me. You have an English Lit degree … I’m impressed! I drove my Lit teacher nuts, because I am a pragmatist … I take words at their face value and could never see the “unwritten” meanings behind the words. My degrees are in Accounting, Political Science, and International Relations. In addition to you and I sharing a taste in music, we also share a taste in reading, for crime fiction and thrillers are my first choice! Among my favourites are Vince Flynn, James Patterson, Lee Child, John Grisham, David Baldacci … and others! Time spent expanding our horizons is never wasted.

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              • Nothing impressive – I just wasn’t any good at much else! I certainly couldn’t have taken your courses, though I did go back to uni some years later for an MBA in Marketing. I’ve read books by all of your favourites except Vince Flynn. From this side of the pond I’d add Ian Rankin, Peter James, Peter Robinson and Val McDermid to your list. Also, in translation, the Italian writer Andrea Camilleri.

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                • Ahhhh … my Accounting degree came because I was divorced with three children, one severely disabled, to feed and clothe, and accounting paid the bills, whereas Political Science would have been a long journey before it would pay the rent. I spent 30 years in Accounting, all the time wishing I were doing something else. And now, I am doing something else … writing a political blog that didn’t start out to be a political blog, but then along came Trump. Blech. I have read a couple by Rankin and by McDermid, but haven’t heard of the other two.

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                  • I’ve heard other accountants say that about the profession. And then there was the actuary who gave a presentation at a conference I attended, who said he preferred being an actuary as accounting was too exciting (he was joking, and was one of the best presenters I’ve ever seen).

                    The two Peters have both written lengthy series (20+) with a main police character. Robinson’s is Alan Banks, and some have been made into a tv series. Maybe PBR might have them?

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                    • A few times, I compared Accounting to prostitution … this was after the two times I quit jobs after being asked to fudge numbers or report incorrect figures. I figured I have to live with my conscience. One of my shortcomings, some say.

                      I will definitely check them out! The name Alan Banks sounds familiar somehow … perhaps I have read one or two of Robinson’s books and forgotten. At the moment, I’m reading “The House of Kennedy” by James Patterson. Do you like Stephen King? I don’t like all of his work, never could get into his ‘Dark’ series, but I like much of it, “The Stand” being among my favourites.

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                    • Not a comparison I would have made, but I see your point. A bit like being one of Trump’s lawyers, I guess, only most of them just continue to take the money.

                      Maybe you have read some, or possibly seen the tv series? I’ve read a few Patterson and King novels, but wouldn’t list either as favourites. Now, Carl Hiaasen, that’s another matter…

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                    • Heh heh … not many would, but I always felt a bit like I was selling a piece of me when I created budgets that I knew were pie in the sky, and reported month-end numbers that I knew borrowed from next month’s revenues. Sigh.

                      I may have read some, but don’t watch much television, so I doubt I ever caught the series. I am near deaf, so I rely on closed-captioning, but that’s distracting and … well, I’d just rather read the book! Y’know … while I’ve heard much about Carl Hiaasen, I have never read any of his works. What would you recommend for a first look?

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                    • With skills like that you should have worked for the government!

                      Any of Hiaasen’s books would be worth your time. I suggest you start with his first, Tourist Season, and if you recover from the laughter-induced hernia go on to Double Whammy, his second, which introduced Skink, one of his recurring characters. I read a lot of his books in my commuting days, and got some odd looks due to shaking with laughter.

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                    • Hah! I wouldn’t have lasted a week in a government job … too outspoken and stubborn.

                      I will check out “Tourist Season” this week! I could use a bit of laughter these days. Thanks! I was sorry to hear tonight that John LeCarre died, for he was another I used to enjoy.

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