Nightman Listens To – Wild Life – Wings (Non Beatles Series)!

Album Review: "Wild Life" - Paul McCartney & Wings (1971) - HOKEYBLOG!

Greetings, Glancers! Not content with arsing about on his own and making sweet sweet music with his Missus, McCartney returned to what got him on the ladder in the first place – a band of buddies. Wings is a band I always knew from a young age due to Live And Let Die and I’ve been looking forward to delving into their catalogue to see how the differ from and compare with The Beatles. Of the eight songs listed, I don’t recognise any of them, beyond a cover. Oh dear, it doesn’t look like the album was received very well so this could be a slog.

Mumbo‘ has a lot to live up to, you would think. I assume there was a fair level of hype around this at the time – Paul’s first band after leaving The Beatles. You would think that, outside of whatever singles were released, the album opener would need to kick you in the nuts (with glee). It does begin with a nut-kicking series of screams from Paul. The solo piano notes – you already know I’m not a fan of that particular style – but at least it’s spliced with organ blasts and smatterings of guitar. It’s more loose than what I would have expected from an opener, but the band sound like they’re having fun, which isn’t exactly the vibe you get from the last couple of Beatles albums. It’s quite groovy – I don’t think there’s enough substance to justify the full four minutes, but it does the job for me on first listen.

Bip Bop‘ open like a jaunty back-woods precursor to someone’s baby being eaten. ‘Bip bop’ in other words. It screeches into the Blues lane as the vocals start, while retaining the McCartney rhythm we all know. The vocals are quite unusual, the lyrics a mixture of nonsense and warbling, and with sprinkles of backing vocals from Linda. You see I fall back on mentioning the length of the song when I’m bored – I’m typing this line before the three minute mark and there’s another ninety seconds or so to go. The remaining 90 seconds are essentially identical to any other 90 seconds from the song.

Love Is Strange‘ has a loose feeling again, a riff looping over and over before the drums do something similar, but nifty, then it all pulls together. Is it an instrumental version? It’s almost the two minute mark when the the familiar melody and lyrics begin. It is quite different from the version I know – not a song I have any great love for in the first place, nor do I have anything against it. This feels more like a B-Side – some things I like, others I wonder why they bothered.

Wild Life‘ is over six minutes long, so it better be a masterpiece compared to the previous tracks. A brief vocal intro followed by almost a minute of overlapping chords give way to a lead vocal. Some great yells in the middle of these vocals, though it does feel repetitive. Once the backing vocals join we get a little more depth and density. Halfway now and, it’s a little boring. Not quite tedious, but it’s hardly exciting. The final half is more repetition, more screaming, not a lot more.

Some People Never Know‘ is also over 6 minutes long. If the last song was anything to go by, we could be in for a slog. It opens with some pleasant folk ditty guitars, expanding into an old sitcom intro style. The verses are tidy – nice dual vocals from Paul and Linda – so far so good. This is a simple, old fashioned ballad with a modern 70s twist – a dash of hippy charm, a fluid ounce of McCartney magic, and any arsing about stripped away. Lyrically, it hits that sweet spot of being both personal and universal. It’s maybe longer than it should be, but beyond the final thirty seconds or so of hand drumming, it doesn’t feel drawn out.

I Am Your Singer‘ takes us back to a sub three minute time-frame. It’s a strange, maudlin-toned song with a broken beat which picks up after the thirty second mark. From there we get a catchy melody, flutes, and plenty of vocals of Linda. It’s quite sweet while it lasts.

Tomorrow‘ threatens in its opening seconds a retread of the single piano rhythm I’m always yapping about. Thanks to the eventual beat and the vocal melodies it avoids this. It’s another sweet love song. Lovely harmonies to back up Paul’s lead make this feel like a lost Beatles track.

Dear Friend‘ closes the album. It features a sullen piano opening along with an emotive Paul vocal. The lyrics sound like they are about John. Some percussive nudges drop after the first minute and Paul reverts to moans and ooohs before a huge string surge steers into view. This feels like the album’s centrepiece, and clearly a lot of thought and emotion went into the writing and recording. It probably doesn’t need to be as long as it is, but unlike those in the first half this doesn’t feel as stretched.

There aren’t any bad songs here, but the opening half is let down by a reliance on feeling loose and using ideas which probably sounded good at the time but didn’t translate to an interesting listening experience. These songs tended to be overlong which made them feel more average. Thankfully the second disc is stronger – Paul’s melodic and lyrical prowess comes to the fore and as such the songs feel less like rarities and more like they were put together with effort and passion. In other words, a strong second side does its best to dispel memories of how plain the first half was.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Some People Never Know. I Am Your Singer. Tomorrow. Dear Friend.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Wild Life!

My Blog – June 2020

Quick Edit – Since writing the post below, it’s all been kicking off in the US. I have a lot of friends and family in various cities and States in the US, so if you’re over there at the moment – stay safe, and hopefully this turbulence which has been building for days, weeks, years, and arguably centuries, will pass and lead to better lives for those who have been mistreated, victimized, beaten down, told to stay silent, forgotten, ignored, and tortured. I hope for a day we can all be treated with respect as equal humans, that any minority does not have to live in fear of unjust persecution and death, and that we all wise the fuck up.

Quarantine is over! Oh wait, no it isn’t. However, all over the planet (yeah, it’s not just in the USA) people are getting antsy over some deluded notion of freedom or believe that their ‘faith’ is somehow going to shield them from a disease which will soon hit half a million deaths worldwide, and are stepping out of their homes to demand that their fast food stores re-open because that’s what God stipulated in the Constitution. Or something like that – I don’t really understand how the brains of idiots work. Stupidity is, it seems, far more dangerous and widespread than Cov-ID.

Here in the UK, the list of politicians (the very same ones who crafted our ever so vague Lockdown legislation and guidelines), who have broke their own laws to go visit family and friends because they don’t need to do whatever they tell the plebs to do, continues to grow. And half the plebs make excuses for them and will surely vote them back into office. Stupidity indeed.

I assumed in Lockdown I would get a lot more games played, books read, movies watched. As is always the case, more important stuff gets in the way. Or in my case, much less important stuff – such as watching stupid Youtube videos instead. Yes, I’ve been using my extra free time to catch up on dumb reaction videos. Specifically two types of Reaction videos, neither of which I should really like, given what a contrarian I am.

I find there are three (or four at a push) camps of people with regards to Reaction videos; those who love them, those who can’t stand them or even see the point, those who will watch a few here and there, and those who don’t even know they exist. I should hate most of them given the fact that they promote a level of talentlessness not seen since the heyday of Big Brother and other such species-reducing reality shows, and because I don’t care what other people think. Except, that last part isn’t really true, is it? I think all of us care what others think – it’s just that we want to either find those people who agree with us, or find the subject matter of the Reaction videos which speak directly to us, regardless of what the Reactor may think. I think that’s why Reaction Videos are so popular nowadays – they give us that taste of what all humans love – a confirmation bias shroud. We find someone who falls in love with something we already hold dear, and experience that new found love which in turn rekindles our own, all the time nodding in mutual appreciation and understanding at the comments and posts which praise the thing or agree with the Reactor. That second piece is important too – rekindling our feelings, and perhaps vicariously re-experiencing our favourite show or song for the first time through someone else’s eyes. It can be very cool, and quite addictive.

I’ve probably spoken before here about me watching people React to Buffy for the first time. Sure, the cynic in me wonders why for so many years nobody watched it, and then all of a sudden the floodgates opened and you have new channels popping up every week dedicated to reacting to the show. In my experience of watching React Channels, this is definitely one of the problems I have in watching them, and I imagine the Creators have too – everyone is reacting to the same shit. Now, some of those people are clearly jumping on the bandwagon of whatever is popular and riding those Likes and Views all the way to Kingdom Come, but I can only assume there are also some honest souls out there who are pissed off by this and want genuinely to React to Shows they haven’t seen before AND which no-one else is reacting too. Which belatedly gets to what I really wanted to talk about today:

Top Ten Shows NOBODY Is Reacting To (or probably are but just in vastly diminished numbers).

  1. Twin Peaks

A snazzy title, don’t you agree? I have found 1 Youtuber who reacted to every episode of Twin Peaks, but unfortunately wasn’t the most exciting or engaging person to go along with. There are quite a few Twin Peaks reactors out there, but the problem is that they are all fans of the original series and were reacting to Twin Peaks The Return. That’s not what I want – I want virgins. Newbies to the world of Cooper and Co, watching and freaking out the first time just like we all did. Much of the enjoyment for existing fans watching, would be of course anticipating the classic moments of the original two seasons – the weirdness, the one-liners, the laughs, the reveals, the BOB, and in encountering those special precious few souls who would ‘get it’.

2. Farscape

Farscape was one of my favourite shows when it first aired, and one of the original ‘no-one here gets out alive’ TV shows. Seriously, Farscape is an often depressing, downbeat watch, and more often than not a show which makes you feel stupid more not catching all of the intense, complicated, interweaving arcs going on, but if there’s one thing for certain it’s that it was a wonderfully unique show with plenty of laughs, and one which will leave you emotionally drained. That’s why we need more people, or any people, reacting to it – we want to watch you suffer.

3. Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is just a delight – yet nobody talks about it, never mind reacts to it. It’s a flawless combination of comedy and action, monster of the week and long arcs, and has some of the best chemistry between its performers that I’ve ever seen. The cast is wonderful and the merging of myth and history always made for a fun watch. It’s the show all nerds and Reactors are sleeping on but need to watch immediately, instead of forcing their way through utter shite like Once Upon A Time. If you needed any more reasons – it was written by Buffy people and has a tonne of Buffy actors popping up.

4. SG1

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’d be correct. A lot of sci-fi… basically this is a list of some of my all time favourite shows and me wishing that other people could watch them so I can share in their enjoyment. A lot of these shows would be a hefty undertaking, but perhaps none more so that SG1. Because you’d have to watch the original Stargate movie too, and probably before the show, even though the cast is different. And then there’s 2 SG1 spin-off movies to consider. Not only 2 spin off movies, but 2 spin-off series in Atlantis and Continuum, which ran for a total of seven seasons. Of course, SG1 itself ran for 10 seasons so, yeah – it’s a whopper. There was a prequel series too recently, but i haven’t seen it yet. Rumours are that a barnd new movie/revamp is coming, so this one maybe has more likelihood than others in getting Reactors on board. But it’s a great show – and plenty of Farscape crossover too!

5. Eerie Indiana

Everyone loves Stranger Things. I like it, but there is something lacking. Maybe it’s the fact that everybody loves it so much and suddenly thinks they’re huge 80s nostalgia freaks when five minutes before the pilot aired those same chumps couldn’t have distinguished their Carpenters from their Cravens. So I like it, but why watch it when you can have the original and best horror nostalgia show – Eerie, Indiana – a show Stranger Things liberally borrows from but has so far yet to beat in terms of comedy and overall writing. It is a kids show, but it’s smarter today almost thirty years on than most adult oriented shows today. It’s only one season, so a dedicated Reactor could power through it in no time.

6. Airwolf/The A-Team/Knight Rider/Street Hawk

Basically any of those 80s crime-fighting shows involving a souped up Black-tinted vehicle. You could throw in Thunder In Paradise (girls look pretty, ooh they look nice), and Blue Thunder here too, except those were shite. Reacting might be tough, as most of the shows didn’t really have any arc or character growth or anything beyond cool action and tough as nails 80s badasses. But they all had their own flavour and would tick a lot of nostalgic boxes – Airwolf at least had more emotion, The A-Team had a variety of characters, Street Hawk was short, and Knight Rider had David Hasslehoff. I guess people could react to Baywatch too, but then they’d spend half their time trying to shield their raging boners from the camera.

7. The X Files

I assume some people out there are, or have gone through The X Files, but most of the people I subscribe too haven’t. Too bust faffing around with Agents Of Shield, or The 100, or Dexter. I don’t care about any of those, and this is all about me. I’m sure there’s a generation of young’uns now who haven’t seen a single episode, so it’s about time they leapt back in. It’s another large undertaking, with double figure seasons and two movies, but it’s one of the all time greats and people would still be sucked in by the conspiracy plots and freaked out by all the mommy freaks living under beds and bendy Tooms slithering up drainpipes.

8. The League Of Gentlemen

It’s the last great British sitcom – fuck off Miranda, Dinner Ladies, The Office, The In Betweeners, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Gavin And Stacey – fuck right off. I’d love to see some of those precious over-exaggerated faux-shock reactions to some of TLOG’s finest moments, you snowflakes wouldn’t have a chance. In all seriousness, it’s a wonder this was ever shown on TV, but it is some of the most perfect 30 minutes in comedy history. And when they’re done, they should absolutely react to Psychoville, and most definitely, perhaps even more so than TLOG react to Inside Number 9 – a few people are already doing that, badly.

9. The Twilight Zone

The original, of course. By all means if you want to move onto the various reboots, go ahead, but nothing touches the majesty of the original. A range of ages in Reactors here would be nice, not just the fresh face new to College Americans we mainly see. Sure, a lot of the twists now may be seen coming, or hackneyed, but the show was made well over 50 years ago. Still it has more ideas and better dialogue than almost any show made since, and still has the power to scare, to make you laugh, but most importantly, to make you think – and it would be cool to see the more vocal reactors share their thoughts.

10. Quantum Leap

I could easily fill another 10 spaces here (don’t worry, I won’t. Yet) but decided to end it on another all time classic. Quantum Leap had less of a season long arc, and more of a show long arc – the Odyssey of Dr Sam Beckett trying to get home – to his own body, and his own time. There hasn’t really been a show like Quantum Leap, that combination of good old fashioned – I was going to say Patriotism, but that’s not right at all – good old fashioned goodness – morality mixed with science mixed with US history, adventure, comedy, romance. Honestly, with all of the pivotal moments which have occurred in the US since the show ended it seems ripe for a reboot – preferably a sequel given the heartbreaking ending of the original series – but possibly one which branches out to other Countries would be cool. We still just want Sam to make that final leap home. But this is a show which Reactors would get a kick out off – it would entertain them while teaching them, and all us nearing middle age or beyond original fans would get a kick out of it too. Come on – all it takes is one of you to make a successful reaction series, then everyone else will jump aboard!

So that’s that. Oh wait, I did say there were two types of Reaction I wanted to talk about, didn’t I? Maybe I’ll save that for next month as this post is long enough already and I kind of want to make my own ‘Ten Shows Reactors NEED To React to Video’ now for Youtube. Yeah, there’s this channel called Reactistan – it has been going for a while now, but really found its niche recently when they began posting a series where ‘Tribal People’ react to common place Western shit. The link to their channel is above, but seriously go watch those – it’s gold. There are so many future memes, from ‘Only God Knows what it’s made of’ to ‘Well it’s free so I’ll take another bite’. Yeah, I guess I’ll talk about why I love those Reaction videos so much next time – by that point their channel will prob have a million subs.

Oh yeah, I actually went and made that Youtube video alluded to earlier, between the time I wrote the post and now (about an hour) – so here it is. It’s every bit as terrible as all my other videos, but it does feature some stellar original music so whack on the headset and max out the volume (seriously, DON’T).

Do you like Reaction videos? Why not – why do you hate them so? What would you like Reactors reacting to? What would you rather the youth of today spend their time doing? Let us know in the comments, and until next time, check around my site for more incoherent rambling!

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the definition into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attention to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time: California Dreamin’ – The Mamas And The Papas

California Dreamin‘ is a song that, up until recently, I wouldn’t have considered one of my favourite songs. Not because I never liked it, just because I never much thought about it. Typically when I talk about my favourite songs, they are the ones that have somehow shaped my life or my musical taste or are by one of my all time favourite artists. In this instance none of those statements fit. So why is it featured in this series? Like some song posts to come in the future, it’s simply because the some is so fucking good I can’t ignore it. I’ve been listening to it more and more in the last year and pining for someone to start a new pop movement where the songs are as strong as this. The song has always been there in my life, not because I purposefully put it on or had an album with it but more simply because it was released a good eighteen years before I was born and was so popular that it continued to be played on radio stations and in movies and shows as I was growing up.

That seems like a good place to start – the song was released in 1965 and over the next couple of years became one of the seminal counter-culture hits. It’s one of those songs which makes me yearn for the USA – as many problems as it has always had, sometimes something comes along which makes you want to be a US citizen living and breathing and existing in the same world that the song talks about. It was a hit single in the States and made the Top 40 in The UK, before a re-release in the late 90s saw it finally crack the Top 10. It’s one of those songs which is predominantly 60s but yet endures in each new generation both in its original form and thanks to copious cover versions. While The Mamas And The Papas version is the best, cover versions include Sia, The Beach Boys, America, and Nancy Sinatra have all had a turn yet it was some dodgy German techno thing which garnered the song its first Number 1 placement.

At barely over 150 seconds long, the song is a perfect example of how to do a pop single with no fluff. Perhaps more important, it’s a perfect example of how to do harmonies – in my mind it’s one of the two best examples of this type of harmony ever written, the other being Help! The song even has a lazy pace and a fake-out psychedelic intro in its short running time. That intro strikes me, quite clearly, as the band having no idea how to start the song and getting to the main melody in a smooth way, so instead they just said ‘fuck it’ and cobbled together a few seconds of bizarre psych guitar before blasting straight in. Those melodies? Forget about it. A few seconds in and I’m hooked forever.

Lyrically, it’s the writer yearning for the warmth of California while in a colder part of the country. I’ve never been to California, but the song paints such an idyllic vision of the place that it make it sound like paradise – coupled with the hundreds of movies and shows I watched growing up set in California, hell even the name California has a mythic quality to someone from the dreary, grey, bomb-drenched shores of Ulster. Hearing this song as a kid made me think of long sunny evenings, beaches which stretched as far as they eye could see, and carefree living – feeling which still pervades now even with the cynical mind of a grown-up.

I’ve probably mentioned it countless times on this blog, but the three main elements for me in any song are melody, lyrics, and emotion. This song ticks all three boxes – while I don’t think the band here showcase amazing technical skills or vocals, the lyrics are evocative, the melodies like glue, and it’s all wrapped up in an authentic package. Get those three right, and all of the other important components of music should follow naturally. Get those three right, and even if the other components don’t work, I’ll probably still love your song. Check out my Nightman Scoring System(c) posts for more information on how I break down songs into twenty different components. For now though, click on one of the links throughout this post and enjoy some nostalgic, sun-drenched, melancholic pop.

Let us know in the comments what you think of California Dreamin’ and if there are any other Mamas And Papas songs you think I’d enjoy!