Written on a freezing New York winter evening long before the Mamas & the Papas ever existed, "California Dreamin'" neatly encapsulated the feeling of longing as well as a desire to lead a freer, more spiritually fulfilling life. What a '60s dream! Well, it certainly came true, and not just for the members of the Mamas, but for a lot of people who first heard the song back in the winter of 1966. The song's easy grace and subtle message is positively irresistible, and brought home even more by the Mamas & Papas' awesome vocal pyrotechnics. One of the first records that the group ever cut, the song was actually first recorded by Barry McGuire -- utilizing the same track (sans Bud Shank's elegant flute solo) -- and was slated to be the follow-up to his hit "Eve of Destruction" until Denny Doherty gave the vocal a shot. The rest, of course, is history. In general construction, it's basically a minor-key ballad. However, the descending chord progression (suggested by session guitarist P.F. Sloan) is vaguely reminiscent of "Walk Don't Run" and gives the song a minor surf/rock feel. The song was not only one of the most often-played records of its day, but it has proven itself to be one that can truly be described as timeless. Covered by a multitude of other artists as diverse as Bobby Womack to the Beach Boys (who had a substantial hit with it in the mid-'80s, with Roger McGuinn adding his trademark 12-string to their version), the song has also appeared in numerous films, such as the Oscar award-winning Forrest Gump. If the word "rainbow" can be used as a label to a song, it surely must be affixed here.