Song of the week : California Dreamin’ - The Mamas and the Papas

Dernière mise à jour : 19 févr. 2021

The Mamas & the Papas was an American folk rock vocal group of the 60’s composed of four members : John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, and Michelle Phillips. They had a really distinctive way of making music and their male-female harmonies is what made their first hit California Dreamin’ released in 1965 so successful. Other hits such as Monday Monday are typical of what we call the « Californian Sound » promoting among other things the American Dream.

However if the band’s name The Mamas and the Papas is related to both gender represented in the groupe, the romantic attraction between the members of the group ironically broke their unity and led to a lot of melodrama as Michelle Philips told Vanity Fair.

That’s why their career as performers lasted only from 1965 to 1968.

They tried to release a new album in 1971 entitled People like Us but it was a flop.

Even though the group lasted only three years The Papas and the Mamas are almost as famous and as iconic as the Beatles or the Beach Boys for instance.

Was mixing romantic feeling and music a good idea ?

Maybe not.

California Dreamin’

has been written by John and Michelle Phillips while they were living in New York. They’ve been inspired by the homesickness of Michelle who was born in California. (Editor’s note : this theme is really used at that time as in “ Country Roads, Take me Home ” by John Denver or “ Walkin’ Back to Georgia ’’ by Jim Croce ).

That song can also be perceived as a reflect of the “ American Dream ” (but in a Californian meaning) which glorify the USA and makes it absolutely flawless.

The chorus begins in that way saying “

All the leaves are brown, And the sky is gray

” which gives the impression that California is a genuine picture postcard. It continues on the same way, “

I’d be safe and warm, If I was in L.A. ”

. There again, California looks like a paradise where everyone could be in safety and warmth, it really gives to the listener the will to move in Los Angeles right now.

The chorus and most of the song is constructed with half of the group singing a line and the other half repeating it which gives a perfect harmony. The flute solo between the verse and the chorus also brings a feeling of peacefulness and serenity.

If you’ve loved this song, we recommend you the band

The Monkees who also plays the same genre of music.

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