Historical Events  Music
Mamas and Papas

I began to pray

I pretend to pray

I got down on my knees and ... 

Many people remember the classic Mama's & Papa's hit from the 1960's California Dreamin' as having the line 'Well I got down on my knees and I began to pray'. This isn't how it is today, however - it's 'I pretend to pray'.

Often called "The sound of the 60's", the song wasn't originally recorded by The Mamas & the Papas, but was certainly made famous by them. Representing free spirits, love and the hippy beat culture, it's actually an unlikely one to have become so prominent considering it's lyrics are really only about someone cold thinking of being warm again.

Went Gold

In 1966 the record went gold, and it was induced in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. Written by John and Michelle Phillips, it's a little known fact that the Mamas and the Papas actually sang backing vocals on the original, which of course they went on to re-record and make famous.

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way
Well I got down on my knees
(got down on my knees)
And I pretend to pray
(I pretend to pray)
You know the preacher likes the cold
(preacher likes the cold)
He knows I'm gonna stay
(knows I'm gonna stay)
California dreamin'
(California dreamin') on such a winter's day

-- California Dreamin - The Mamas and the Papas

When first released, the song didn't actually get much attention. Various radio stations played it, but one in Boston was to prove the breakthrough in 1966.

There might be an explanation for this Mandela Effect. The lyrics were written by Michelle Phillips but sung by Cass Elliot on the record. When they were touring, Elliot was corrected by Phillips so she sang "pretend" live. People hearing the record, then attending a live concert, would hear different versions.