Monday, April 06, 2009

All the leaves are brown

I'd always thought of "California Dreamin'" as kind of a happy song. I'm not sure why. It's not. The leaves are BROWN. The sky is GRAY. He gets down on his knees and begins to pray. He's not living in California. He's dreaming about it.



But I think I know why it seems happy now. Bud Shank. He was this influential jazz flutist and saxophonist who sat in on the recording of "California Dreamin'" and provided the little flute solo. It comes exactly halfway through the song. Starts out kind of melancholy and then builds and touches on the West Coast jazz vibe that Shank helped pioneer. But it never quite gets to the free and easy Hermosa Beach feeling, just hints at it, alludes to it, and then returns to earth.

Bud Shank died last week. He was 82.


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4 comments:

OnOneCondition said...

This is an excellent point about the incredible flute line.

The leaves may be brown, but the grass is always greener. Once in California, John Phillips seems to have a very different opinion.

http://musicmusingmusic.blogspot.com/2007/05/mamas-and-papas-twelve-thirty-young.html

Mr. Smith said...

American Music Club's cover of this song is pretty awesome, if you've never heard it.

My favorite bit is when Mark Eitzel changes "started to pray" to "pretended to pray". A genius touch that changes the whole vibe of the song.

OnOneCondition said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OnOneCondition said...

The original lyris IS "I pretend to pray." There is an implied tit for tat here as "...the preacher likes the cold, he knows I'm gonna stay."