The Mamas & The Papas were an American folk band from 1965 to 1968. “California Dreamin'” was a track written by couple and band members John and Michelle Phillips but was first recorded by singer Barry McGuire. However, the best-known version is by The Mamas & The Papas, who sang the backup vocals on the original version and then later released it as a single. It is the seventh track off their 1966 album: “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears”.
The track was written in 1963, when John Phillips and Michelle Phillips were living in New York City. John dreamed about the song and woke Michelle up to help him to write the song. He mentions how “all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey”, and how if he didn’t tell “her” (it is assumed that by “her”, he means his partner Michelle) he could “leave today”. It is essentially a dreamy love ballad to California and its warmer climate, while also being a snide complaint towards New York’s greyness and “winter days”.
The song was not immediately hit, as Michelle reminisces that it took the song to be played on a radio station in Boston to become a nationwide hit. The track defined psychedelic / new-wave pop at the time, and created a brand new sub-genre of music. The song has over 10 million views on its audio upload.
Release Date: 9th December 1985
Songwriter/s: John Phillips, Michelle Phillips
Producer/s: Lou Adler
Label/s: Dunhill Records
Certifications & Awards: Certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in June 1966. It is #89 in the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.