Formed in the late 1960s, The Mamas & the Papas was an American folk-rock group that formed the musical backdrop of that era with hit songs such as “California Dreamin” and “Monday, Monday.” However, the group was short-lived due to intense drama behind the scenes that included heartbreaks, drug and substance abuse, and endless parties. Over the four years which they were active, the band released five studio albums and 17 singles, six of which made it to the Billboard Top 10. The group has sold close to 40 million records and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Here are the top ten The Mamas & the Papas songs of all time.
10. Go Where You Wanna Go
The number ten song on our list of the top ten The Mamas & the Papas songs is the track “Go Where You Wanna Go,” which was originally recorded for their debut album. If I were to introduce anyone to this group and their songs, I would encourage them to listen to this one. The lyrics are impressive, and Cass Elliot is like a full choir on her own.
9. Creeque Alley
This 1966 hit single was autobiographical in that it tells the tale of events leading to the formation of the Mamas & the Papas. The lyrics are filled with names and places, some of which we are not familiar with to date. The song references Creeque, which is a place where the band spent some time before changing their musical direction. The song is such a great tune and definitely one of my personal favorites. Their voices are so beautiful, and it is incredible how they could record so many great songs within a short period. The harmonies are impressive, and the autobiographical lyrics tell a story like no other.
8. Safe in My Garden
“Safe in My Garden” is the second song from The Mamas & the Papas 1968 self-titled album. The song saw a change of the group’s musical style from a signature folk-rock sound to a sound whose lyrics seemed a little weary of the world. The song charted in the US Billboard Hot 100 and is one of the group’s most loved songs.
7. Dedicated to the One I Love
This song is contained in the group’s 1967 album, Deliver. The song talks about how love takes time to develop due to various factors such as honesty, loyalty, and respect, all of which come into play. The song contains impressive lyrics, with Cass Elliott saying that she would be happy and content if she knew her significant other felt the same way.
6. Twelve Thirty
“Twelve Thirty” is the ninth song from The Mamas & the Papas 1967 album, The Best of The Mamas and the Papas: Farewell to the First Golden Era. The song contains impressive vocal arrangement and a touch of melancholy that has a bittersweet feel to it. The song’s lyrics were written by John Philips about a time when he was living in New York City, and outside his window, there was a clock stuck at 12:30. The track peaked at number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart and is widely regarded as one of the group’s best songs that the group ever did.
5. Glad to Be Unhappy
The third song on our list was recorded by the group on an episode of ABC Stage 267 just to keep the group in the charts as they waited for the completion of their fourth album. However, the song never appeared on the album and was included in the group’s second package of their greatest hits.
4. Dream a Little Dream of Me
“Dream a Little Dream of Me” was initially written in 1931 by Gus Kahn and was first recorded in 1931 by Ozzie Nelson. It was also covered by Wayne King on his orchestra, along with vocals from Ernie Birchill. This track has over 60 versions, but the most popular one was done by The Mamas & the Papas alongside Cass Elliot on the vocals. The timeless version by the group features smooth vocals from Cass Elliot and magnificent melodies that drive the song to its end, like a dream.
3. Words of Love
Following the dismal chart performance of their last song, “Look Through My Window,” fans were starting to question whether the group would ever return to the upper rankings on the charts. “Words of Love” marked the group’s return to the upper echelons of the charts, with the song peaking at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100. In the song, Cass Elliot advises men that they won’t win a girl’s heart anymore by reciting words of love. The song features extra backing vocals and a prominent piano, with the group complementing each other perfectly in the song.
2. Monday, Monday
Coming in at number two is the Grammy Award-winning song, written by John Phillips and recorded by the Mamas & the Papas in 1966. “Monday, Monday” remains the group’s only number single on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the first song done by a group containing mixed genders to hit number one on the chart. The song was also included in the 1974 movie Stardust.
1. California Dreamin’
The number one song on our list of the greatest the Mamas & the Papas songs was written by John Philips and Michele Philips and was first recorded by Barry McGuire. The song has different versions done by different singers, but none of them are better than this version by the Mamas and the Papas, which was released as a single in 1965. The track’s lyrics express the writer’s wish to go back to Los Angeles after spending winter in New York City. The song was quite popular in California, where it became a signpost of the California Sound. The song is ranked in position 89 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is also certified gold by the RIAA and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.