I am not a music teacher anymore.  I have crossed over to the “dark side” and I am now an administrator.  But back when I taught music, I always thought that harmony was the hardest thing to teach.  Rhythm tends to come pretty quickly to most people, and melody, well, most people can at least carry a simple tune.  But vocal harmony really takes a developed ear and a little knowledge of music theory to really be able create it and know where it’s going.  And actually, vocal harmony is what you hear the least of in current popular music.  In this era of solo artists and bands with single lead singers, groups that harmonize seem to have become novelty acts on bad reality music shows.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.  I only bring it up because the Mamas and the Papas were known for their harmonies.  Well, the blend of their voices might be a better term, because actually there isn’t as much vocal harmony on this record as you might expect.  More often there is call and response singing between the men and the women, or there is a lead singer with the others singing folky oos and ahs behind him or her.  And there is as surprising amount of unison singing.  But occasionally they will bust out a long chord, often with the women singing a suspension and then resolving it, and those moments are truly glorious.

I don’t really have any childhood memories of the Mamas and the Papas.  I think I was more of a Peter, Paul, and Mary kind of guy.  I do vaguely remember an episode of Scooby Doo that guest-starred Cass Elliot, but I really didn’t know who she was at the time.  And it wasn’t as good as the episode with the Globetrotters.  But in college I remember picking up a copy of their Greatest Hits cheap at Johnny Go’s House O’ Music.  I think the only song I ever listened to on that album was “California Dreamin'”, but I remember really liking that song a lot and listening to it while I was trudging around campus on cold winter days.  I think we may have even sung an arrangement of “California Dreamin'” in Statesmen, but I may be misremembering that.

I picked this album up for $7.99 on Amazon Prime.  I am glad it has the original cover, as apparently at some point the cover was censored because the record company thought the toilet was inappropriate.  So for many years the toilet was covered by a banner with the song titles on it.  Actually, I think the original vinyl pressings were pulled off the shelves because of the cover, and as such have become valuable collector’s items.  By today’s standards, a toilet seems pretty mild, but I get it.  Times were different back then.  Insert Dylan quote here.

Other lists: “California Dreamin'” ranks at #89 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album jumped up 15 spots from its original ranking at #127 on the original list.

A word from the Princess: [after listening to “Monday, Monday”] “I think I like Fridays better.  And Saturdays.”

My favorite track: “California Dreamin'”

Honorable mention: “Go Where You Wanna Go”

Quote: “You gotta go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do, with whoever you wanna do it with”