Stream of consciousness or California Here I Come (part eight)

It’s a bit of a stretch to call it stream of consciousness when this topic was mentioned about three posts ago.  Let’s just say that I portaged through several posts and am once more in the stream.  And where does this stream lead?

California, Here I Come was written for the 1921 Broadway musical Bombo, starring Al Jolson. Jolson recorded the song in 1924 and it is often considered the unofficial state song of California.

So we’re off to California…how do we get there?

Although The Cryan’ Shames didn’t reach the charts with First Train to California (or, for that matter, the album from which it comes…Synthesis) it a good vehicle to take us there today.


Thanks for the ride, guys…

Now we’re here, let’s find a place to stay… maybe Hotel California?

The song, taken from The Eagles‘ album of the same name, did all right for itself, reaching #1 in Canada and the US (unlike our previous song) in 1977 and winning a Grammy (record of the year) in the subsequent year.

The Cryan’ Shames began their song by suggesting…

There must be something in California…

The Beach Boys thought they had the answer.  And that answer?

California Girls reached a respectable #3 in the US in 1965 and became one of the band’s signature tunes for decades. Brian Wilson’s orchestral introduction presaged the musical experimentation found in 1966’s Pet Sounds.

The sound of The Beach Boys certainly helped to take their many fans to the Golden State.  For some, though, it was only dreamin’…

Originally formed in New York, The Mamas and The Papas followed that dream and made their way to California where the song was recorded as part of their debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.  The song reached #3 and the album #1 on the Billboard charts in 1966.

In the song (written by Papa John Phillips and his then-wife Mama Michelle Phillips) it is suggested

I’d be safe and warm if I was in LA…

James Taylor transformed that comforting thought into a plea in the latter 1970’s… (actually the song is written by Danny Kortchmar, Taylor’s sometime guitarist) Honey Don’t Leave LA!

Just as I Left My Heart in San Francisco was the song about the city in 1962 (and the signature tune for Tony Bennett), San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) spoke to another generation about the charms of the place.

If you are sensing a similar vibe here to The Mamas and The Papas, it may be because the song was written (as California Dreamin’) by  “Papa” John Phillips.  The song was released in May of 1967 to help promote the Monterey International Pop Music Festival being held in June that year.  It also fared well on the charts, reaching #4 in the US and #1 in the UK.

Speaking of Monterey, Eric Burdon and the Animals attempted to provide a musical précis of the event in their 1967 hit of the same name. (The band had, by the way, the advantage of participating in that festival as the foundation in formulating this tribute).  It reached #15 in the US and #16 in Canada.

A further aside (if you like San Francisco) the band mined the state again and came up with San Franciscan Nights in August of ’67.  It fared even better than Monterey, charting #1 in Canada, #9 in the US and #7 in the UK.

So, I think we’ve finally exhausted every song ever written about California… just ask Joni Mitchell

Good grief!!  I think I’ll just stop… (for now)…

Sunshine Pop VI


Made in California

It should perhaps be noted that the groups from the previous post (ie. The Fifth Dimension and The Association), if not California-born, were California-converged.  While their members originated from various states, they assembled and recorded in the Golden State.  The two groups featured today trace their origins to California.

Track 13

If you have heard Paul Simon’s iconic 60’s tune, Feelin’ Groovy (The 59th Bridge Street Song), there’s a good chance that it’s not the Simon and Garfunkel version that first comes to mind.  Rather, it’s the recording by a Santa Cruz band named Harper’s Bizarre.  The group scored its biggest hit with Feelin’ Groovy, which reached #13 on the Billboard Charts in 1967.  (Note: Track #13 and that song charting at #13… co-incidence?  Actually… yes.)  Anyway, it’s not my selection for this collection.  I’ve jumped ahead to the group’s 1968 album, Secret Life of Harper’s Bizarre and a song written by Paul Williams.  The song is titled The Drifter and it’s an appropriate addition to Secret Life which was intended to play with the theme(s) explored in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a short story written by  James Thurber.  So here’s the song…


The group’s recordings featured intricate harmonies and often revealed a fondness for re-interpreting standards.  Here they are (as a point of interest) with their take on Cole Porter‘s Anything Goes (it reached #43 on the pop charts and #6 on easy listening)… and I hear their dance moves inspired Michael Jackson!

Track 14

So… now the answer to last post’s puzzle.  The group hinted at?  That’s right… The Byrds!

No… of course it’s The Turtles, a band spawned in Westchester, California.  Originally named The Crossfires, they soon changed their name to The Tyrtles (Do I spot a trend?)  By the time of their first success (It Ain’t Me, Babe) they got the spelling right and proceeded to chart nine top 30 hits over the next several years.  The band’s signature tune, Happy Together reached #1 in 1967 (it was a very good year).  For our purposes, though, I’m going back to a previous lesser hit… You Baby (#20 in 1966) written by P.F. Sloan and produced by Bones Howe (he who was mentioned in the previous post).  Howe did, in fact, produce the first two albums for band.

Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman went on to later success as the duo Flo and Eddie.

Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman went on to later success as the duo Flo & Eddie.

Yet more trivia…

In 1984 the duo joined with The Association and Spanky (of Spanky and Our Gang) in the very successful “Happy Together Tour”.

Actually, more than one...