Up on Cripple Creek
|"Up on Cripple Creek"|
|Single by The Band|
|from the album The Band|
|B-side||"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"|
|Released||November 29, 1969|
|Genre||Roots rock, Americana|
"Up on Cripple Creek" is the fifth song on The Band's eponymous second album, The Band. It was released as a (edited) single on Capitol 2635 in November 1969 and reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Up on Cripple Creek" was written by Band guitarist and principal songwriter Robbie Robertson, with drummer Levon Helm singing lead vocal.
A live performance of "Up on Cripple Creek" appears in The Band's live concert film The Last Waltz, as well as on the accompanying soundtrack album. In addition, a live version of the song appears on Before the Flood; a live album of The Band's various concerts and shows with Bob Dylan while touring together in 1974.
"Up on Cripple Creek" is notable as it is one of the first instances of a Hohner Clavinet being played with a wah-wah pedal. The riff can be heard after each chorus of the song. The Clavinet, especially in tandem with a wah pedal was a sound that became famous in the early to mid '70s especially in funk music, and continues to be popular to this day.
Drawing upon The Band's musical roots -- The American South, American rock and roll e.g., bluegrass/country and alcoholism -- the song is sung from the point of view of, perhaps, a driver who goes to Lake Charles, Louisiana to stay with a local girl, Bessie, with whom he has a history. In the song, he gambles, drinks, listens to music, and spends time with "little Bessie," who takes an active role in the goings-on, while expressing her opinions, further endearing herself to the narrator. At the end of the song, after exhausting himself on the road, he talks about going home to his woman, "big mama," but is tempted to return to Bessie again. Or, he may not be cheating. Truckers also use the term, "Big Mama," to refer to their dispatcher over the CB radio. Concerns about the weather in other parts of the country and the line "this life of living on the road" suggest over-the-road trucking. At the start of the song he's hauling logs off a mountain and at the end he may be weighing options: "rolling in" to home base for a new cargo or seeing his Bessie again.
|Canadian RPM Singles Chart||10|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||25|
- Rick Danko- bass guitar, backing vocal
- Levon Helm- lead vocal, drums
- Garth Hudson- clavinet with wah-wah pedal, Lowrey organ
- Richard Manuel- acoustic piano, backing vocal
- Robbie Robertson- electric guitar
- The Oak Ridge Boys, on their 1982 album Bobbie Sue
- Tom Wopat, on the 1979 The Dukes of Hazzard TV show soundtrack
- Gomez, on the 2007 Band tribute album Endless Highway: The Music of The Band