"California Dreaming" as written by Michelle Gilliam and John Edmund Andrew Phillips....
All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk on a winters day
I'd be save and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreaming on such a winters day

Stepped into a church I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees and I began to pray
You know the preacher likes the cold he knows I'm gonna stay
California dreaming on such a winters day

All the leaves a brown and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk on a winters day
If I didn't tell her I could leave today
California dreaming on such a winters day
On such a winters day, on such a winters day

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"California Dreaming" as written by Michelle Gilliam John Edmund Andrew Phillips

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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California Dreaming song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentComfort versus the obligations of love

    The subject of the song goes to the church to seek moral support

    There is conflict in the subject of this song, internal conflict

    The individual in question might be homesick

    California Dreaming - transcendental meditation, wishful thinking
    SocialLieson March 10, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI liked the general comment before mine. And since I believe, not sure, but think I have heard this song used a few times in reference or in Vietnam movies. So comfort vs. obligation of service. Homesick, yeah I'd say that would be right... not an opinion on the rightness of the war but certainly how being engaged in hell creates wishful thinking about being safe back home.
    boxerboyon September 15, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationAt face value, this is a relatively benign pop anthem about being homesick. To me, however, this song has always held a much darker tone. It's not about California at all.

    In my humble opinion, this track reflects the thoughts and feelings of a man who has just died and may not realize it yet. When he appears at his own funeral and knows he has passed away, he refuses to move on.

    "Stopped into a church I passed along the way" - His funeral. He is stopping by on the way to oblivion/eternity, heaven/hell.

    "I got down on my knees and I began to pray" - In denial, he is begging for mercy from god, just one more chance to live.

    "The preacher liked the cold; he knows I'm going to stay" - The preacher is symbolic for his role as a ferryman from this life into the next, reading last rites and praying over the body and so on. The preacher thrives on spiritualism and is at peace with death, aka 'the cold'. The preacher knows he will 'stay cold'.

    "If I didn't tell her, I could leave today" - The reason he can't move on. He is stuck in limbo because of a mistake he made with 'her'. What did he tell her that he wishes he could take back?

    Until he accepts that he is dead he will be stuck in this drained-color version of the L.A. he knew, where everything is beyond reach, the sky is always grey, and all he can do is wander endlessly in the winter of death.
    "California dreamin' on such a winter's day" - Dreaming of life while erased by death.

    Yes, I am a hit at parties.
    CodyCodyon May 13, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere 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
    My OpinionIt is exactly what I said about the meaning of this song... The person is in a rainy day wanting to be on a sunny day at california...I think is about the "spirit" of California, no matter it is raining, you are on a sunny day...
    sergioparanahon June 18, 2016   Link

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