Friday, April 10, 2009

California Dreamin'

After we ran Ron Smith's death notice on famed jazz alto saxophonist Bud Shank the other day ... which mentioned that Bud also played the flute solo in the middle of The Mamas and the Papas' huge hit "California Dreamin'", we received THIS response from one of our readers:

>>>Flautist and alto saxophonist Bud Shank passed away Thursday (April 2) at the age of 82 at his home in Tucson. Bud will always be remembered for his haunting flute on the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'." (Ron Smith)
Regarding Bud Shank's flute solo on the Mamas and Papas "California Dreamin'" ... Denny Doherty once told me that when they were recording that song, they wanted a solo, but didn't want the usual guitar solo. John Phillips walked out into the hall of the Hollywood recording studio they were at and Bud Shank was in that hallway as well. John grabbed him and brought him into the studio. Shank listened to the hole he was supposed to fill and nailed it on the first take.
It's sad to hear of his passing. Now he can play again 'up there' with John Phillips, Denny & Mama Cass.
Doug Thompson
The Mamas and the Papas had sung the background vocals on Barry McGuire's version of "California Dreamin'" just prior to recording their own take of the song. On Barry's version, that hole was filled with a harmonica solo!!! Other than that, however, the instrumentation and vocals are IDENTICAL to the chart-topping hit released under their own name a few months later. (In fact, a while back we circulated a mix where you could hear Barry's voice come in just before Denny's, buried DEEP down in the mix during a not-so-thorough erasing session!!!) kk

The Mamas and the Papas' version of "California Dreamin'" is one of those RARE instances where a song absolutely gave me chills and goosebumps the very first time I ever heard it. This doesn't happen very often ... but this record didn't sound like ANYTHING I'd ever heard before ... and I immediately fell in love with the group. They had a VERY unique (and quite amazing) sound ... and it all continues to hold up very well today. (Can you even imagine this song WITHOUT the flute interlude?!?!? Barry McGuire's version, featured above, almost comes as a shock to the system!!!) Several big name artists (The Beach Boys and America among them) have recorded this song since ... and have really done the song justice ... but NOBODY will ever top the version by the group that created it. (Hmmm ... which, I guess, brings us back to that same old question ... did The Mamas and the Papas actually COVER their own song??? Barry McGuire did it first ... and then, when the group decided to record it on their own, they asked him not to release his version as a single so that they could release THEIR version without fear of competition from an already-established recording act. Similarly, at virtually the very same time, The Mamas and the Papas' version of their song, "Go Where You Wanna Go", was pulled off the shelves to focus on "California Dreamin'" instead, paving the way for The Fifth Dimension to have THEIR first chart it with the song a few months later. Jeez, Scott Shannon could have a FIELD DAY featuring THESE two Mamas and Papas tracks on his next True Oldies Channel Remake Weekend!!! Now throw in the fact that The Fifth Dimension were the first artists to record The Brookly Bridge's biggest hit, "The Worst That Could Happen" and you've got one hell of a feature!!!) kk

We've got a COUPLE of them going this weekend ... Scott Shannon's playing "The Incredible Records of the Sixties" on The True Oldies Channel ... and Rich Appel is playing The Top 104 (according to YOUR votes) "It Really Shoulda ... Been A Top Ten Hit") ... details below from Hz So Good. (kk)
The Top 104 songs you filed with Hz So Good’s I.R.S. – as in, you felt for each that It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit – will be, as promised, revealed this Eastaxover weekend. Here’s what’s going on.Friday morning @ 735am EST, I’ll be on with Jimmy Howes and Greta Latona on WGHT’s morning show

(listen here: to talk about the I.R.S.
Spoiler alert: we’ll most likely reveal the Top 10.
Friday evening @ 6pm EST, I’ll be Bob Radil’s guest on WNHU’s Friday Night ‘60s and ’70s Show (listen here: as we count down the Top 104, playing as many songs as we can fit into what’ll probably be a 4-hour show.
Later this weekend, the new Hz So Good comes your way, featuring the entire Top 104 counted down, with your comments and picks, plus links to most every song online. Even if you didn’t get to file, you still might enjoy the results. But whatever you do this holiday weekend, whether or not it includes Hz, make it a great one.
HzSoGood’s I.R.S. Top 104 ... don't miss it!!!
We'll be making The Top 104 I.R.S. List available to OUR readers next week ... just let us know if you'd like a copy. Meanwhile, hope you can tune in and listen to some of these special features! (kk)