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)…

Plan B… riding off in all directions

Road Sign 1At first, when I contemplated a series of posts on the theme of “direction”, I had the notion of an orderly progression.  Each post would deal with songs highlighting a single term of direction… like up, then down, then in and even around.  That was Plan A. Plan B… well, that’s what I’ve opted for.  Each post will randomly look at songs which contain some term involving direction.  It may be a haphazard way to proceed… but it also sounds like fun (one of the functions for this blog).  So, as the great philosopher once said…

You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going,

because you might not get there

                                                                                                   Yogi Berra

And away we go…

Come On In  The Association

Of course, I’m starting with an Association nugget.  The song was never released as a single but it led off the band’s 1968 album, Birthday.  The album reached #23 on the Billboard charts and spawned two top forty hits, Everything That Touches You (#10) and Time for Livin’ (#39).

Up Up and Away  The Fifth Dimension

If you detect a similar vibe in this next song, don’t be surprised.  Both groups share that Sunshine Pop sound (discussed in an earlier series of posts).  Written by Jimmy Webb (also mentioned previously), The Fifth Dimension took the song to #7 in 1967.

We Gotta Get Out of This Place  The Animals

“Crossing the pond” and stepping back a year or two (to 1965) we meet up with Eric Burdon and The Animals.  The band was the tougher, grittier sibling of groups like Freddie and the Dreamers and Peter and Gordon.  The song itself reached #2 in Canada and the UK while peaking at #13 in the US.

Don’t Bring Me Down  The Animals (again!)

Can a band travel in more than one direction?  Apparently The Animals could.  I ran across this next song when I dug up that previous selection.  And, as it’s one of my more fav Animals numbers, I just had to include it here.  Others liked it too… it reached #3 on the Canadian CHUM charts, #6 in the UK and a respectable #12 in the US in 1966.

A little trivia… these edgy Animal tunes were the penned by some of pop music’s standardbearers in the 60’s… Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil (We Gotta Get) and Gerry Goffin/Carole King (Don’t Bring).

I Get Around  The Beach Boys

Well, why not… they certainly did get around the charts and, in July of 1964, the band’s I Get Around got around to #1 in both Canada and the US.  It was, by the way, their first (but not last) #1 hit.

Finally…

even though we don’t have any snow (yet), thoughts are turning to Christmas.  Perhaps the next post can be dedicated to Yuletide directions… but, for now, I’ll finish with a little number that, although not exactly a carol, certainly anticipates the season in its own way.  (ie. Pay attention to the lyrics!)

Home by Another Way  James Taylor

From his 1988 album, Never Die Young…

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