California Dreamin'

This is what happens when I have a rare free evening at home:

I spend an hour, okay, two hours, listening to versions of California Dreamin'.

John Phillips wrote it in my former hometown, New York City. I lived there the better part of 13 years, and for six of them, I lived across the street from a beautiful cathedral, St. Francis Xavier, gothic, granite, over 100 years old, the kind of church you only find in big east coast cities, at least in our country. I never stopped into that church, even though I passed it every day.

October was always my favorite month in New York. The beauty of the dying leaves, the crisp apples, the need for a sweater, maybe even a jacket, the blessed end of summer. I am allowing myself to miss New York a tiny bit tonight. But the truth is, I love California.

I have been a California resident for two months, and, still, every day, I wake up, walk outside, look at the sky and thank my lucky stars they aligned and I landed in the middle of Berkeley. I love it here.

Embracing my dual identity as a former New Yorker and new Californian, I am deeply obsessed with this song right now. It's that move to the relative major chord at the end of the third line that hits me in the gut:

I've been for a walk...

Well I got down on my knees...

And this sneaky lyric:

If I didn't tell her...

Oh. There's a girl.

And that killer Wrecking Crew bass line.

Some artists gloss over these details in their covers, which surprises me. Of all versions I've listened to tonight, none moves me more than The Mamas & The Papas' version. Though give it up for Baby Huey and the Babysitters. That one does make me want to dance.