Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Mamas & The Papas: California Dreamin' (1965)

The Mamas & The Papas,Four Tracks From,UK,Deleted,12
The Mamas & The Papas,Four Tracks From,UK,Deleted,12
I really do love this song, it has the knack of picking me up when I'm down. "California Dreamin'" the classic song by The Mamas & The Papas, first released in 1965. The song is No89 in Rolling Stones' list of The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time. The lyrics of the song are about a man in a cold winter landscape longing for the warmth of California. According to John Phillips in a Bravo documentary, and Michelle Phillips in an NPR piece, the song was written in 1963 while they were living in New York. He dreamed about the song and woke her up to help him write it. At the time, the Phillips' were members of the folk group The New Journeymen which evolved into The Mamas & The Papas.
They earned their first record contract after being introduced to Lou Adler, the head of Dunhill Records, by the singer Barry McGuire. In thanks to Adler, they sang the backing vocals to "California Dreamin'" on McGuire's album This Precious Time. The Mamas and the Papas then recorded their own version, using the same instrumental and backing vocal tracks to which they added new vocals and an alto flute solo by Bud Shan k. McGuire's original vocal can be briefly heard on the left channel at the beginning of the record, having not been completely wiped. The single was released in late 1965 but it was not an immediate breakthrough. After gaining little attention in Los Angeles upon its release, Michelle Phillips remembers that it took a radio station in Boston to break the song nationwide. By early 1966, the song peaked at No4 and stayed on the charts for 17 weeks. "California Dreaming" and "The Ballard of the Green Berets" sharply divided the popular music market in March 1966.
The Mamas & The Papas,Hits Of Gold,UK,Deleted,LP RECORD,194879
The song is used repeatedly in the 1994 Wong Kar-Wai film Chungking Express, in which a character played by singer Faye Wong obsessively listens to it. The original song by The Mamas & the Papas was also used in the soundtrack on the Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning film Forrest Gump. A version by the band The Bald Eagles was used for the remake of the movie The Hills Have Eyes. In the movie Congo the song is sung by members of an expedition as they prepare rafts for an ill-fated river trek.
"California Dreamin'", as covered by Bobby Womack (1968), features prominently in 2009 British film Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold, where the main character Mia dances to it and uses it as her audition piece. The collection CD on which the song appears also plays a role, and is "The Best of Bobby Womack" (2008), on which "California Dreamin'" appears on track 17, as Mia requests at her audition.
The song was also used in the South Park episode 201.
In the British time travelling sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart, one of the main characters, Phoebe, sang this song, thinking it had been written by her husband, Gary Sparrow. (Gary Sparrow travels from the 1990s to the 1940s and claims to write songs, which are actually songs from popular bands or singers, such as "Yesterday" by The Beatles, "Imagine" by John Lennon and "Back To You" by Brett Anderson.)
A cover of the song by Shaw Blades was used in the final scene of the season 2 finale of Californication.
The song is used in promos for HBO Films' Cinema Verite.
It was also used in a "Butter Menthol" Cough Lolly TV advertisment in Australia
In 2004 the Mexican bank Banamex use the theme for a TV Commercial.

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