Friday, January 1, 2016

Today in Music (1966): The Mamas & the Papas charted with “California Dreamin’”

California Dreamin’

The Mamas & the Papas

Writer(s): John Phillips/ Michelle Phillips (see lyrics here)

Released: December 8, 1965

First Charted: January 1, 1966

Peak: 4 US, 4 CB, 2 GR, 2 HR, 1 CL, 9 UK, 7 CN, 87 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 236.3 video, 676.6 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Ironically, the group at the heart of the mid-1960s folk-rock movement on the West Coast emerged from the folk scene in Greewich Village. TB Group member John Phillips wrote “California Dreamin’” during the winter of 1963 in New York TC because Michelle, his wife and fellow group member, was homesick for California. RS500

Phillips’ folk group the New Journeymen did the song first, but as a show of thanks, Phillips offered the song to Barry McGuire (“Eve of Destruction”). McGuire had turned on producer Lou Adler to the Mamas and Papas. Adler, however, convinced the group to keep the song and record it themselves. RS500 Using McGuire’s backing track, the group did record it; the only difference being a new set of vocals in place of McGuire’s. TB

“The song’s easy grace and subtle message is positively irresistible,” AMG making for “one of the all-time sunniest songs.” RS500 It “neatly encapsulated the feeling of longing as well as a desire to lead a freer, more spiritually fulfilling life.” AMG

The song is also marked by a rare flute solo. SF According to Doug Thompson, the group wanted a more unusual solo than the standard guitar. John went out in the hall, saw Bud Shank, and pulled him into the studio. Shank, in turn, listened to the part of the song requiring the solo and then nailed it with the first take. SF


First posted 1/1/2013; updated 9/17/2023.

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