Winter Songs: Dreaming Of 'California' From Far Away | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Winter Songs: Dreaming Of 'California' From Far Away

Play associated audio

The songs we turn to during winter months are as distinct from the light, joyous anthems of summer as tank tops and shorts are from the mittens and scarves we pull out of the closet when a chill creeps into the air. This season, we'll ask musicians, writers and listeners to tell us about a song that evokes winter for them, along with a memory or story that goes with it.

To kick off the series, All Things Considered host Melissa Block spoke to novelist Ann Patchett, author of The Patron Saint of Liars, Bel Canto and Run, among others. She shared a story about the song that helped her cope with her parents' divorce, and with moving to a strange new place.

When Patchett, her sister and their recently divorced mother left their home in California a week before Ann's sixth birthday to move to Nashville, Tenn., The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'" took on a new level of significance.

"It was just before Thanksgiving. It was gray, it was freezing cold, and my father still lived in Los Angeles," Patchett says. "I would listen to that song all the time and I would think, 'Everything would be all right if I could get back to California. If I could only get back to California.' "

The parallels with her new life in Nashville didn't end there.

"What I really loved about that song was [that] not only had I come to Tennessee; I had been enrolled in a Catholic girls' school," Patchett says, "so that line, 'Got down on my knees and I pretend to pray' seemed incredibly scandalous to me when I was a kid; that you could go and pretend to pray. And I remember going to Mass in the morning, and I would get down on my knees and close my eyes and sing 'California Dreamin" in my own head. And it became sort of the prayer to California."

Now, as a married adult still living in Tennessee, Patchett says she no longer longs for California, but that she always feels better when she hears "California Dreamin'," especially when the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Unsettling Tales Of Suburbia Echo Through 'The Night'

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser explores the intersection of small-town familiar life and the bizarre and supernatural in his new short story collection Voices in the Night.
NPR

This Robot Chef Has Mastered Crab Bisque

The system, a pair of robotic arms, learned to cook by mimicking the motions of a top chef. Even though it can't smell or taste, its maker says the robot should be able to make 2,000 meals by 2017.
WAMU 88.5

Morale Is Low Among Government Workers, But What Can Be Done?

Lawmakers are awaiting the results of a Government Accountability Office on low morale across federal agencies. But can Congress help fix a problem they played a large part in creating?

NPR

VW Camper Van Gets An Electric Makeover

Talk about a time warp! The iconic VW camper is getting a modern reboot. This time, it's electric.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.