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


Lyrics submitted by adrenalinegrl

California Dreamin song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentcover of Mama's and th Papa's.
    thinkitbeiton July 08, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah i know
    i think this is the best punk cover i have ever heard
    nazipunksfuckoffon July 20, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah I think Pennywise and Less Than Jake are the best bands to cover oldies.
    Danielle1987on August 07, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis was actually done by nofx....but still it rocks
    Bulkyoneon March 10, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHi-standard has covered it and so has Me first and the gimme gimmes Hi-standard is the only one i heard that covered it on a CD (Survival of the fattest)
    Biggleson April 22, 2003   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThere are many meanings behind this seemingly simple song. The first is a general sense of wanting to be where it is warm. Wherever they are, it is cold and bleak, and they are dreaming about the warmth of the California climate. This seems fairly obvious on the surface of it, but the song also has a religious meaning behind the lyrics.

    Along the way he goes into a church, and “pretends” to pray. This seems like a cynical view of religion, where he is pretending to be religious in order to take in the warmth of the church. The singer says the preacher likes the cold, because he knows he will stay, indicating that there is an anti-religious overtone to the song, where the church recruits desperate people into their religion because they need to come in out of the cold.

    This leads to a deeper meaning behind the song. If the song was just about a mild nuisance caused by the cold, then there would be no real need to stay in the church and go through the motion of pretending to pray. Instead, this seems to be a major theme of the short song. The singer could perhaps be HOMELESS, where he has no shelter, and so the cold winter represents a real threat to his survival. The singer says he would be safe and warm if he were in LA, which could imply that even if he was homeless in California, he would at least be safe from the cold. This could also represent a cynical view of religion, where homeless people are drawn to church because it is the one place that welcomes them, however the singer is saying that he has to pretend to be religious in order to receive this hospitality.

    However, there is an even deeper meaning beyond the religious or homeless message in the song. The most mysterious lyric of this song is when the singer says ‘If I didn’t tell her, I could leave today.’ Implying that there is some issue with a female that is preventing him from going to California. Perhaps it is a girlfriend or wife, and if he did not tell her…something, he could leave today. The song does not give us enough information about this point, did he tell her he loves her and thus can’t go away from her? Or is it perhaps not so sweet, where ‘if I didn’t tell her’ means, ‘if I just leave now, I can leave today.’ Is the deeper meaning behind this song that he wants to break up with his significant other, and therefore is perhaps homeless or without a place to live, because he used to live with her and now he doesn’t, and if he did not have to worry about telling his girlfriend his intentions, he could leave today?

    This is a song that on the surface represents the quintessential California dream of the sixties, a place that is warm and safe, but a deeper look at this song shows a melancholy, where the singer is perhaps homeless and is just coming out of a bad relationship. The only place he can really turn is a church, which forces him to pretend to be religious, and the cold of the winter and the icy overtones that he feels while in the church makes him dream of a warmer California sun.
    ManoStuarton September 08, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Comment@ManoStuart I think you're reading things into the song that just aren't there. There may, as you suggest, be an anti-religious sub-theme, although that would be a bit bizarre for The Mamas and The Papas (every member of whom flirted with Eastern religions during the period in which it was fashionable to do so—and there is absolutely nothing in the lyrics to suggest an attack on Christianity).

    I think your homelessness comment is more than a bit of a stretch. The song was released in 1966 (roughly 2 years after LBJ launched his Great Society legislative agenda, and the highly-supported 'war on poverty' entered the national vocabulary). Less than 25 million people in the US were below the poverty level (as compared to over 43 million in 2016), and while homelessness wasn't unknown, it certainly wasn't anything close to either common or epidemic (as it is today, June 2017). Further, unemployment was below 5% for almost the entire decade.

    Over and above those figures, like most of the white, over-privileged young people who made up 'the movement,' The Mamas and The Papas were not notably (or even moderately) concerned with the plight of the poor—and both their 'activism' (such as it was) and the thematic preoccupations of their material during this time period bear this out. 'The movement' (and this is coming from someone who was part of it) wasn't all that interested in the plight of the poor—unless they lived in the so-called 'Third World.'

    The song is about a young hippy who would prefer to be 'safe and warm' in a highly-idealised, unrealistic LA, but feels constrained by his commitment to a woman. It's a pretty straightforward song.
    punkdadon June 25, 2017   Link

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