Go Where You Wanna Go

Album: Up-Up and Away (1966)
Charted: 16

Songfacts®:

  • This upbeat song was written by John Phillips and issued as the first single for his group The Mamas & the Papas, appearing on their 1965 debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears. Their version went nowhere, but the group's next single, "California Dreamin'" was a huge hit.

    "Go Where You Wanna Go" found new life when it was recorded by another group with both male and female vocalists, The 5th Dimension. The group was signed to Johnny Rivers' Soul City Records, where they released an earlier single called "I'll Be Loving You Forever" as the Versatiles. Rivers suggested the group cover the song, which was a good call: The song rose up the Hot 100 to #16 and set the stage for their breakthrough in 1967.

    After the single proved a success, the group put a whole album together which included another traveling tune: "Up-Up and Away," which was written by a young songwriter named Jimmy Webb. The group ended up recording several Webb compositions, as his career took off along with the group's.
  • John Phillips wrote this song about Michelle Phillips' affair with Russ Titelman, a songwriter and record producer who did production work for Randy Newman, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Chaka Khan.

    John and Michelle got married in 1962, but the following year their marriage was on the rocks. Michelle took up with Titelman and moved with him from Los Angeles to New York. This prompted John to write the song, with the very specific lines:

    Three thousand miles, that's how far you'll go
    And you said to me "Please don't follow"


    Michelle and Russ split up not long after, but it was clear that Michelle viewed their marriage as more flexible than John did.
  • P.F. Sloan, who was most famous for writing the song "Eve Of Destruction," played guitar on the Mamas & the Papas original version. Sloan was friends with John Phillips, who played on P.F.'s solo track "City Women." In our interview with Sloan, he described "Go Where You Wanna Go" as "An absolutely stupendous record," adding, "It's magical. I thought it had everything. And it was a complete stiff. It just goes to show you that everything is timing. You'd think that if the song is great and the vocals are great and the band is great, you've got a hit, but God shows us that timing is everything."

    Sloan also played on "California Dreamin'" and wrote what would be the second single for The 5th Dimension: "Another Day, Another Heartache," which made #45 in the US.
  • The jaunty melody belies the song's lyric, which is about a guy who leaves his girl behind, traveling to the other side of the country. The song is written from the girl's perspective - she is brokenhearted over his leaving, and almost sarcastically telling him to go wherever he wants and be with whoever he desires. She tries to impress on him that fidelity is an option: "A girl like me can love just one man."
  • When The 5th Dimension recorded this song, they corrected a grammatical error in the original lyric, changing "With whoever you wanna do it with" to "With whomever you wanna do it with."
  • This song featured in a 2011 commercial for Elderplan supplemental Medicare coverage. The spot showed various senior citizens singing along to this song, embracing the mantra of the title, if not the true meaning of the song.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 18th 1967, the Fifth Dimension performed "Go Where You Wanna Go" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #21 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and the very next day it would peak at #16 {for 2 weeks} and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #9 on the Canadian RPM Singles chart...
    Between 1967 and 1976 the quintet had thirty Top 100 records; seven made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" for 6 weeks in 1969 and "Wedding Bells Blues" for 3 weeks also in 1969...
    They just missed having a third #1 when "One Less Bell to Answer" peaked at #2 for two weeks in 1970 {the two weeks it was at #2, "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison was the #1 record for both those weeks}...
    Sadly, original member Ron Townson passed away on August 2nd, 2001 at the age of 68...
    May he R.I.P.
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