365 Days of Song Recommendations: April 25

Apr 25 · 2 min read
365 Days of Album Recommendations: April 25

California—John Mayall

When John Mayall shows up on a playlist, or my father-in-law throws on an old record, I stop and listen. I don’t seek him out, for whatever reason, but I also never turn him off when he’s on. Room to Move was my entry point, a song that prominently features some of the finest, most driving harmonica you’ll ever hear. Put another way: if you dream of one day playing harmonica, be careful with John Mayall. He’ll discourage you.

And let’s be straight here: this is ole’ Preacher Boy’s turf, so I won’t go too deep into Mayall’s magnetic influence in the Blues world, but let’s just say it runs deep. I started to write about Room to Move, but it’s a bit too obvious. Remarkable, a must-hear if you don’t know it, but not the one that fits my mood for today.

So let’s talk about California. The song, not the place — Mayall’s lyrics sum it up anyway. This is, more than anything, a jazz song with some brief Blues interludes. (Did I get that right, Preach?)

Going back to California
So many good thing around
Don’t want to leave California
The sun seems to never go down
Some people may treat you ugly
Some people beautiful too
That’s the way life is all over
Look for the good things for you

It’s a long song meant for old joints like Chicago’s Green Mill, a dark smoky club meant for unlabeled whiskey and collective foot taps. This song begins and ends with vocals, but everything in between is a festive stretch of jazz and blues riffs with brief interludes of subtle harmonica — the opposite of Room to Move. And flute! Some serious flute, in fact. The song is pure homesickness, and I feel it, too, that magnetic draw to the flawed, yet unforgettable California life. The song, like the place, draws you in and won’t let you go, a reminder that even when you leave it you’ll likely return one day.

There’s a good place to be
That’s where I’m feeling so free
I’ll be back there before long
I’ll be back there before long
I’ll be back there before long

“California” is the 115th song on the exclusive #365Songs playlist. Check it out today!

No Wrong Notes

Typing about music