Go Where You Wanna Go — The Mamas and The Papas / The 5th Dimension
“Go Where You Wanna Go” is one of pop music’s most pivotal songs — ironically because, at first, it was unsuccessful.
Written by “Papa” John Phillips, The Mamas and The Papas released “Go Where You Wanna Go” in 1965 but despite everyone involved feeling it was a great record, it went precisely nowhere in the charts. Sometimes there’s no accounting for taste.
It happens. You launch a product a little too early for the market and it bombs. Yet a few months or a couple of years later, someone else launches much the same product and builds a billion-dollar business on the back of it. Such are the vagaries of consumer behaviour.
“Go Where You Wanna Go” was certainly one of the earliest songs performed in a style we’d later come to see as the iconic sound of the late 1960s.
As well as being a great songwriter, John Phillips may well be one of the best vocal arrangers who ever set foot inside a recording studio. The lush, multi-layered vocal harmonies you hear on “Go Where You Wanna Go” are some of the best harmonies you’ll hear on any record since the invention of recorded music.
But at the time, John Phillips, genius though he was, was slightly too early to market with his product and nobody cared.
Don’t feel too bad about it though. Just a few months later, as 1965 was drawing to a close, The Mamas and The Papas recorded another song John Phillips had written, this time with his wife Michelle as a co-writer. And that one took off like a rocket.
I just need to mention the title and you’ll know the song in an instant.
“California Dreamin’ ” would launch not just the careers of The Mamas and The Papas, but the careers of just about everyone who was anyone in the world of late 1960s popular music.
John Phillips had set the template. Anchored a time and place in our minds with his music. Defined an era.
Nowadays, if you’re watching a film or TV programme and you hear The Mamas and The Papas on the soundtrack, the writers don’t need to do anything else for you to place the events unfolding on your screen as taking place in the mid to late-1960s.