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.
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)…