Have you ever heard a song or album that changed your life in the space of a weekend? It’s happened a handful of times in my life. The first time I heard Yes’s powerful “Awaken” at age fifteen, I was transfixed. “Buffalo Springfield Again” knocked me on my side in September of 1995 when I first purchased it. That winter, I received George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” as a Christmas gift, and it was a game-changer. When I pulled The Zombies “Odessey and Oracle” from the Q106 CD library and gave it a listen in the production studio one weekend in the early 2000s, it tugged at my heartstrings right away.
Now that I’m in that jaded pushing-forty place, for a record to have the same impact, it’s gotta be pretty damn good. I mean, DAMN good. Well, being an unashamed fan of most Yacht Rock-flavored music, I finally discovered one of the subgenre’s benchmark records over the Memorial Day Weekend, and it seems it was just hiding in plain sight all this time. Enter The Blue Jean Committee, and “Catalina Breeze.”
I gave it one listen via a Youtube link (how we all preview music these days). I listened again. I immediately downloaded “Catalina Breeze” so that I’d have it to crank full volume in my car. The Seventies California Vibe is perfectly embodied in the 2:15 title track. You might even argue it’s the missing link between Seals & Crofts and Steely Dan; the puzzle piece that connects Brewer & Shipley to England Dan & John Ford Coley.
I’ve never been to California, and though I’m a child of the Carter administration, I’m far too young to remember the Seventies, let alone to have lived through it. This delightful two minutes is the only time machine I’ll ever need. It’s all there: the blissful harmonies, the gentle Fender Rhodes, the tasteful twin-lead soft-rock solo, and the lyrics conjuring up images of champagne-filled coconuts. That’s two minutes without a care in the world. Two minutes where all your dreams and fantasies come true. Two minutes drunk on champagne-filled coconuts. This is summer sunset music. This is classy dinner party music. This is top-down-in-your-Chrysler Cordoba music. This is The Blue Jean Committee: legends of the Gentle and Soft. It’s a shame they never properly followed this one up.
Pour yourself your favorite drink, put this on your hi-fi, open your windows, and I guarantee wherever you are, you’ll feel that Catalina Breeze on your skin and in your senses.