Creeque Alley

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"Creeque Alley"
Single by The Mamas & the Papas
from the album Deliver
Released 1967
Format 7" single
Genre Pop, Rock
Length 3:45
Label Dunhill
Writer(s) John Phillips, Michelle Phillips
Producer(s) Lou Adler
The Mamas & the Papas singles chronology
"Dedicated to the One I Love"
(1967)
"Creeque Alley"
(1967)
"My Girl"
(1967)

"Creeque Alley" is an autobiographical hit single written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas in 1967, narrating the story of how the group was formed, and its early years. The third song on the album Deliver, it peaked at #5 on the U.S. Billboard pop singles chart the week of Memorial Day, 1967.[1] It made #9 on the UK Charts.

The title of the song, which does not occur in the lyrics, is derived from Creque or Crequi (pronounced "creaky"[citation needed]) Alley,[2] home to a club in the Virgin Islands where John and Michelle Phillips' original group, the New Journeymen, spent time on vacation.[3] The lyric: "Greasin' on American Express cards", harks back to that time, during which they could only make ends meet by using their American Express cards,[4] and the lyric: "Duffy's good vibrations, and our imaginations, can't go on indefinitely", refers to Hugh Duffy, the owner of the club on Creeque Alley. Duffy later owned Chez Shack in Vieques, Puerto Rico.[5]

The lyrics of the song also mention, directly or indirectly, many artists and bands who were part of the folk music scene at the time, including the other two members of The Mamas & the Papas, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, who were members of The Mugwumps, as well as Zal Yanovsky and John Sebastian (of The Lovin' Spoonful), Roger McGuinn (of The Byrds), and Barry McGuire (of The New Christy Minstrels). Several locations important to The Mamas and The Papas story are also mentioned, for example the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village.

The final lyric line: "And California Dreamin' is becoming a reality", notes the point where the group achieved its breakthrough and left behind the lifestyle described in the rest of the song.

The only intentionally false information given in the song was the line, "When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore". According to Elliot, she never had any plans to attend Swarthmore College...Phillips was just stuck for a rhyme, and he opted for that one.

There are three mixes of the song, all with audible differences. The original single version includes a horn section which is not heard on the album versions, and ends with Doherty singing an extra "becoming a reality." The mix that appears on the mono pressings of The Mamas and the Papas Deliver omits the horns completely. It contains the repeat of "becoming a reality" but, unlike on the single, Elliot can be heard singing in harmony with Doherty. The song as heard on stereo copies of The Mamas and the Papas Deliver, as well as almost all Mamas and Papas compilations, also omits the horns, and the extra "becoming a reality" is not heard either, save for the "-ty" syllable of "reality" (sung by both Doherty and Elliot.) The middle flute solo is also mixed differently in each version.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard (Nielsen Company) 79 (22): 20. 1967. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Origin of Virgin Islands Creque family
  3. ^ "How it All Got Started". California Dreamin' with the Mamas and the Papas. Retrieved 2014-02-14. 
  4. ^ "Creeque Alley". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  5. ^ "Hidden Secrets on the Island of Vieques". travelandleisure.com. Retrieved 2014-02-14. 

External links[edit]