The Californian Dream: a Myth?
California dreamin’ is a song written by John and Michelle Phillips in 1963. The song was inspired by the homesickness felt by Michelle and John while they both lived in New-York. Indeed, they used to live in California and missed their homestate. They dreamt of going back to California, a place where they‘d “be safe and warm”. That is why this song deals with the great aspects of California. Indeed, in this song California is depicted as a fairy tale, a place where people can fulfil their dreams.
« California dream » is a famous theme in a lot of songs. The most common images represent California as a warm place, which offers an awesome lifestyle. In most of these representations everyone is gorgeous, young. Even today, brands such as Pacsun, Hollister and Brandy Melville show California as a place where everyone has fun, surrounded by friends on the beach. That’s one of the reasons why California is still perceived as a dream place.
This song became an anthem for the generation who was born after the Second World War and who rejected the « American way of life » in particular its norms and the consumer society. This same generation of young people participated in the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967 when the hippie movement started to gain momentum.
At the time, this song shows the positive aspects of California like the wonderful sunny weather. However, there is a gap between the vision of California which is conveyed by the song and reality. Indeed, in reality, at the time, there were also race riots in L.A also known as the Watts riots. These riots revealed California was not just a nice place as so many people thought.
Isaure & Myriam