“California Day” is a non-LP song released as a single in 1970 by Strawberry Alarm Clock. The track featured the band’s last lead singer, Paul Marshall, who had replaced Jim Pitman.
“California Day” is a pleasant and perky ode to driving around sunny California’s open highways (and by extension to the state itself). There is some interesting drumming, banging out a rather crude beat, and a busy guitar figure that pulses rhythmically throughout the verses. A tasteful string section sands down any rough edges on the chorus — maybe a little too much.
The feel and sentiment of “California Day” seem fairly indebted to the 1969 movie Easy Rider, especially the Byrds’ title song from the film’s soundtrack. This is underscored not just by the similar musical structure but by the lyrics, which evoke the new, utopian wonders promised by sunny day and an open road — specifically, Highway 99 in the Golden State’s Central Valley region, which leads out of California but inevitably back in:
“Well we can move on down the highway and start a new life
We could be out of state by nightfall, that’s for sure
But the day would come, I know it
We couldn’t stay away
We’d head back down ol’ Highway 99 on a
Paul Marshall’s vocals quiver enigmatically; his heartfelt tenor fits the song very well and is easy to listen to. Not to say “California Day” is easy listening, but if you wonder what “Ballad Of Easy Rider” would sound like if performed by a post-psych pop band in its last throes, well here you go.
“California Day” is a rather forgotten Strawberry Alarm Clock but it’s groovy enough that it should be covered by a new band who could put its own twist on it. In a band yourself? Record a version of this song and put a link to it in the comments section!