Goodbye 2020, José Feliciano and “California Dreamin'”

Well, it’s the last day of 2020 and I feel duty bound to post something as it’s been a year like no other. We all wish we could just wipe the slate clean and start afresh with a 2021 that is fit for purpose, but sadly just not possible. In the short-term nothing much will change regarding the pandemic, bar things getting worse for a while it seems. At least there is hope on the horizon, with vaccines now coming on stream faster than you can say Jack Robinson (God Bless the Scientists). Hopefully by Spring, life will have started to get a bit easier for all of us.

As of 11pm tonight (the time difference dictates it will work out that way) we will no longer be part of the EU, which makes me sad. I shared some pictures two years ago of DD’s Hogmanay party and over half her guests were originally from other countries in Europe. She is of the generation who grew up with the offspring of people who had come here to work from Eastern Europe, and of course is also of the generation who thought nothing of heading off to Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona for a short city break. Geographically we are still going to be part of Europe, but it just doesn’t feel right to be breaking away like this at a time when mutual cooperation is more important than ever. Let’s hope the new relationship with our closest neighbours is a good one.

But hey, this is a music blog and although I have had many post ideas over the last few days, I have been rather distracted by my Christmas presents. One of my Boxing Day hobbies used to be jigsawing (and not the kind which can relieve you of a digit). This year DD not only gave me a great jigsaw but also a board to make it on which means we are no longer sans dining table until the puzzle is completed. It was tough going, especially for my neck and shoulders, but I finished it yesterday.

My Christmas jigsaw

Other distractions have come in the form of books, craft kits and another pretty special present from DD, a signed copy of the script for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot episode, ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’. Regulars around here will know that we as a family were big fans back in the day, so a very thoughtful gift. I think I’ll have to return another day with one of the many songs I have in my library from the Buffy soundtrack, as the song I want to feature in this post is a bit of a different animal and has been my favourite new discovery of 2020.

It’s been a hell of a year I think we can all agree, and we didn’t have Buffy to save the day for us, but in amongst all the anxiety, rules and restrictions most of us have watched a fair amount of television and I am no exception.

A few months ago I wrote about the documentary Laurel Canyon which I had watched the same week as the Tarantino film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Both were set around the Hollywood Hills of the late 60s and there is a great scene in the movie where Brad Pitt is driving his boss’s car around LA, listening to the radio. The song playing is not the Mamas & the Papa’s version of California Dreamin’, but the one by José Feliciano. Maybe it’s because it’s winter here in Scotland at the moment, but like me, don’t you just want to swap places with Brad for a few hours? (For the record, if you haven’t seen the film yet, the girl in the clip is a key player in the plotline. Yes she is very young, and yes, Brad is now very old, but nothing unsavoury came of their ‘friendship’ bar the usual blood and gore you would expect from a Tarantino movie.)

California Dreamin’ by José Feliciano:


It occurred to me I know very little about José Feliciano but it seems he is still going strong at the age of 75 and released a new album at the start of this year. He is Puerto Rican and his music is known for its fusion of styles – Latin, jazz, blues, soul and even rock, created with his unique, signature acoustic guitar sound. The song California Dreamin’ was recorded along with other covers for his 1968 album Feliciano!. I think most of us who are fans of Quentin Tarantino movies appreciate the song choices he makes for the soundtracks almost as much as the movie. He certainly chose wisely with this song which was perfect for the era but not too obvious either.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – No wild Hogmanay parties for us tonight, it being 2020 an’ all, but had things been as usual, we would probably have spent it with our neighbours as we have done for the last couple of decades. We were supposed to take turns in hosting, but some houses have a better layout than others for parties, so we tended to be guests rather than hosts – Guests who used to offer up the entertainment I might add. More of that another time.

For now, a Happy New Year to everyone who visits here. We’ll all be glad to see the back of 2020 I’m sure, but 2021, please, please be kinder to us.

Until next time…

California Dreamin’ Lyrics
(Song by John Phillips/Michelle Phillips)

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way
Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray
You know the preacher liked the cold
He knows I’m gonna stay
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
If I didn’t tell her I could leave today
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Goodbye 2020, José Feliciano and “California Dreamin'””

  1. Ahh! Back to the wonder years! When I was young and studly, and the girls all had long legs, long hair, and were marvelous to talk to.
    But a better song for me today would be Roy Clark’s “Yesterday When I Was Young.” Or maybe Sinatra’s “It Was A Very Good Year.” With the exception that 2020 has not been included!

    “But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year.
    And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs.
    From the brim to the dregs, and it poured sweet and clear.
    It was a very good year.

    It was a mess of good years.”

    See what happens when one gets older? Nostalgia!

    Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I had to double check but it was from 1968, obviously your wonder years. As for Frank’s song (one of my all time favourites) I used it for a post a few years ago when I attempted a journey around the 50 states in song (on hiatus at the moment). It was really apt for New Jersey.
      https://jukeboxtimemachine.com/2017/10/30/frank-sinatra-it-was-a-very-good-year-new-jersey/

      As for the nostalgia aspect, that’s what this whole blog is about really but it really gets to you sometimes – Where have the years gone?

      Happy New Year to you and yours too – Let’s hope 2021 is a much better one.

      Like

    1. Happy New Year Neil and yes, we are all hoping for a bit of normalcy returning in 2021.

      As for Jose, I knew very little about him but have been smitten by his version of California Dreamin’ this year. He is now 75 and is still putting together new albums and performing so pretty good going.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year, it’s here at last! Although I know we have a way to go yet before we hopefully reach much better times at least we’re on the right track….
    I’m impressed by your jigsaw; ages since I’ve done one (apart from a few very simple kids’ ones that I had provided the art for – well I had to try them out!) but probably just what we could all do with right now as a form of relaxing and absorbing entertainment without the need for keyboard or screen. Time for a ‘Bring Back The Jigsaw’ campaign, I reckon.
    I haven’t seen Once Upon A Time In Hollywood but feel I should. Love the way that JF’s version of California Dreamin’ totally changes the mood of the song, it sounds far more yearning, more desperate somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year C – Not going to improve much for a wee while it seems but as you say, hopefully we’re on the right track.

      I love a jigsaw but not done one since I started blogging I suspect. Great to have that board now so you can move it out of the way when you need the table. Once I start I get addicted though and it’s not great for your neck/shoulders leaning over like that for long periods, but you really have to to see the picture properly. I have another couple in the cupboard so I think the board will be well used.

      Loving that version of the song by JF – It starts off really spare with just his voice and the guitar but really builds up. Very different to the Mamas & the Papas version. Apt for the movie and apt for the location. Smitten.

      Like

  3. Happy New Year to all. Hopefully this won’t/can’t be as bad as the one we’ve just left…fingers crossed.
    On your Brexit point..regardless of what has happened I’ll always think of myself as Scottish and European we’ve a long history of interaction with our near neighbours across the sea..I’ve discussed, with a Dutch barmaid in a lovely little village pub, the similarity of sound and meaning of several words that are in widespread use around the NE of Scotland and Holland..it wasn’t only goods that were traded, language and ideas it seems were also shared.
    End of havering…stay safe all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year SSB – Yes, I too am Scottish first and foremost so that won’t change and we are still European so hopefully our continental neighbours won’t hold a grudge for too long. Of course we have a long, long history of interaction and most of us will be descendants of Celts or Vikings who came from across the water. The words in the Dutch and German languages are all very similar as you say.

      Stay safe yourself – This new strain has even reached the Highlands now so not quite as relaxed as I was a couple of weeks ago.

      Like

  4. Just saw Boris on television. This year is not off to the best start, is it? We also get into jigsaw puzzles this time of year. We open one On Christmas and pick at it here and there and hope to have it done before work and school start up again. This year was a depiction of the Vegas Strip. Looks like that 1000 piece one you just finished was pretty difficult. Great picture at the end though. Happy New Year to your family Alyson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brian – Happy New Year to you and your family too,

      Yes, it’s all suddenly got a lot worse again and we’re almost back at sqaure one again. Hope it’s not quite so bad where you are? At least there are vaccines now being rolled out which is a massive step forwards from a year ago. Cross fingers we can hunker down and get through these next few months as a country.

      I often used to start a jigsaw puzzle right after Christmas day but not since I’ve started blogging! Really enjoyed it and although quite tough not as tough as some of those with loads of blue sky. I can visualise what the Vegas Strip one must have looked like – Lots of black and colourful lights no doubt, so quite a tricky make.

      All the best for 2021.

      Like

  5. Happy New Year, Alyson. Particularly impressed with the Buffy script & the jigsaw. I spent some considerable time doing a huge Marvel jigsaw over the Christmas period. Santa brought it for Sam, but daddy got there first…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – Happy New Year to you too. You are the only person who has mentioned the Buffy script and to be honest I was on the verge of editing it out as I thought it must have weirded people out. I shall now stand by its inclusion in this post as it was a thoughtful present and I have a script-writing module coming up in my course, so will be useful for guidance. (Sadly I’m no Joss Whedon but might get some tips from him.)

      As for the jigsaw I’ve not done one for a few years but I really enjoyed it and something a few bloggers in this discussion thread have also done this festive season it seems. Sam will have to work fast to get to the jigsaw before his dad it seems – That’s what used to happen around here with DD’s puzzles and strangely enough it was one of the things I used to do with my mum when she lived in her retirement complex. They had a communal area and there was usually one on the go. Happier times…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My oldest mate and I were once part of a small group of friends who would meet up throughout our late teens, 20s and 30s to see in every new year together, laughing and chatting until the wee small hours. Now aged 60, I find myself working for one major supermarket chain while he works for another in a different part of the country, so we both had pretty hectic festive periods. We furtively exchanged Happy New Year texts at about 7.30 on the evening of the 31st, knowing full well that neither of us were likely to make it all the way until midnight, indeed I crashed out only an hour later and I was actually back at work by the time I once used to go to bed on New Years morning. How times change!
    Happy new year to you and yours Alyson. Take care, stay safe and let’s look forward to better times ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I too used to meet up with my old student flatmate for New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay and many a happy time was spent in some cottage or other out in the wilds. We did this until everyone started getting married and having kids but funnily enough, like you, we too find ourselves in a similar position and we did a Zoom call this year instead… then went to bed. How times change as you say.

      Happy New Year to you too – Keep safe out there and hope the customers are a bit nicer and more understanding this time around.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Al(i)son! Happy New Year. Did they burn the Clavie in Burghead this year?

    I love that Jose Feliciano track, though had never heard it before. Most just know him for his upbeat “Feliz Navidad,” which gets played seasonally over here about as much as The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” gets played over by you. But he does have a lot of that yearnful soul oozing through in much of his work. Go watch and listen to the video of him singing the National Anthem at a World Series baseball game. At the time, it was seen as a disgrace and part of the hippie protest movement by many of the people in the general populace. As a result, he was blackballed for quite some time. He imbues it with so much of is heart, it is almost unfathomable today, when we have seen so many people murder the song, that his version could be seen as disrespectful.
    If you liked the “California Dreamin'” track, I’m sure you’ll like his cover of the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” He also slows that one down, and puts some lush orchestration on it like a country-politan record or like you’d hear on a pop jazz record from the period.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bill P – Happy New Year to you too and no, the usual burning of the Clavie didn’t happen this yea, for the first time since WW2 it seems. We are living through strange times.

      As for Jose, I’ve now listened to all the songs you mention and really like all of them. I recognised Feliz Navidad instantly but didn’t realise who sang it, but now I will remember. As for Light My Fire, wonderful stuff and although it took me a little while to tune into the National Anthem and recognise it for what it was, I also thought it was wonderful. Pretty awful that it caused such a backlash at the time but ’twas the times I supposes. As you say, in more recent times there have been some truly awful renditions but seems par for the course nowadays at a live event. Yet again I’ve learnt a lot since writing this post – Every day’s a school day.

      Liked by 1 person

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