So why is The Mamas & The Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
“California Dreamin’” is one of the best songs of the 1960s, straight up*.
* And it’s not even my favorite Mamas & Papas song, see more on this below!
I remember first hearing “California Dreamin’” as a teenager and being immediately fascinated by it. Like the best Mamas & Papas songs, it fuses folk and rock with incredible vocals. There’s a nice little insistent rock beat that drives the song forward, and those harmonies hit my heart hard to this day.
Growing up on Long Island, New York, there was also something about the mystique of California and the west, and certainly there were plenty of long, cold winters to ponder warmer and presumably more exciting climes. I read On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, perhaps when I was fifteen or so, which was the perfect age to read it.
So I’d listen to “California Dreamin’” and think about On the Road, traversing across the “groaning continent” on ceaseless road trips in search of kicks and experience.
It had some small but real influence on my eventually taking a five-week road trip around the U.S. with my pal Adam years later after graduating from college, which lead to my eventually moving to Berkeley, California.
I never moved back to the east coast.
California Dreamin’ got real for me, you see.
“Straight Shooter” leans into the group’s rock side, which I find to be pretty incredible. It has kind of a Monkees vibe, and you can never go wrong with the Mamas & Papas superior vocal stylings.
“Monday, Monday” remains one of The Mamas & The Papas’ best known songs. It’s a great early morning song (and/or early in the week, if you will), a great throw on the coffee and ease into life and work doings song. Which is to say that it’s simply gorgeous folk pop.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to The Mamas & The Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears
My all-time favorite Mamas & The Papas song is not on If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears. That’d be “Creeque Alley,” which was included on Deliver, released in 1967.
Here’s the gang performing “Creeque Alley” on The Ed Sullivan Show.
I still find it to be one of my most favorite songs of the hippie and folk-rock era. Indeed, I consider it to be a perfect folk rock song, endlessly catchy and pleasing, with a lyrical narrative that I enjoy thinking about while listening to it. And those vocals are simply divine.
Also, I can’t get over John Phillips’ outfit on the Sullivan show. Hipsters ranging from Brooklyn to Santa Monica have been trying to perfect a look that’s as cool as Philips’ look right here for decades. To date, none have succeeded.
There’s that great line about, “No one’s getting fat except Mama Cass,” which is repeated throughout the song, and then it’s turned on its head at the end: “Everybody’s getting fat except Mama Cass.” And also, they name check “California Dreamin’,” which outside of The Beatles circa the White Album (released in late 1968), I’m not sure if any band was doing anything like that at that point.
Speaking of Mama Cass: from a very young age, I recall being advised by my parents to make sure that I chewed my food properly because, I was told, that Mama Cass had died from choking while eating a ham sandwich.
A little research tells me that indeed this story was falsely reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Instead, Mama Cass Elliot died tragically at the age of 32 of a heart attack.
Some stats & info about The Mamas & The Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, SoCal Bands, Folk Rock, Pop Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears released? 1966
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #410 out of 1,000
The Mamas & The Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from The Mamas & The Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
You gotta go where you want to go, do what you want to do.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.