Creeque Alley as Performed by The Mamas & The Papas (1967)


Creeque Alley – The Mamas & The Papas (1967)

This is my favorite Mamas & Papas song! Hands down! It was the second single from their third studio album entitled “Deliver.” Written by John Phillips and Michelle Gilliam Phillips, the lyrics tell the story of the band’s history before they became recording stars. Peaking at #5 in the US and #9 in the UK.

This is the official version of the genesis of the group:

“After their two previous folk groups, The Mugwumps and The New Journeymen split up, Denny Doherty, John Phillips and his wife Michelle Phillips formed a new group. Cass Elliot became the last member to join. The band shortly relocated to The Virgin Islands, and after running out of money, Michelle Phillips gambled back enough money for them to return to New York. After a short period of going under the name “The Magic Circle”, the group renamed themselves “The Mamas and the Papas” before signing five album deal with Dunhill Records.” (Source)

And this is the lyrical version than will go down in infamy:

Creeque Alley Lyrics – Composed by Phillips and Gilliam

John and Mitchy were gettin’ kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind
Zol and Denny workin’ for a penny
Tryin’ to get a fish on the line
In a coffee house Sebastian sat
And after every number they’d pass the hat
McGuinn and McGuire just a-gettin’ higher
In L.A., you know where that’s at
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass

Zolly said “Denny, you know there aren’t many”
“Who can sing a song the way that you do, let’s go south”
Denny said “Zolly, golly, don’t you think that I wish”
“I could play guitar like you”
Zol, Denny and Sebastian sat (at the Night Owl)
And after every number they’d pass the hat
McGuinn and McGuire still a-gettin higher
In L.A., you know where that’s at
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass

When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore
But she changed her mind one day
Standin’ on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike
“Take me to New York right away”
When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps
Called John and Zol and that was the Mugwumps
McGuinn and McGuire couldn’t get no higher
But that’s what they were aimin’ at
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass

Mugwumps, high jumps, low slumps, big bumps
Don’t you work as hard as you play
Make up, break up, everything is shake up
Guess it had to be that way
Sebastian and Zol formed the Spoonful
Michelle, John, and Denny gettin’ very tuneful
McGuinn and McGuire just a-catchin’ fire
In L.A., you know where that’s at
And everybody’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass
Di-di-di-dit dit dit di-di-di-dit, who-o-oa

—— flute ——

Broke, busted, disgusted, agents can’t be trusted
And Mitchy wants to go to the sea
Cass can’t make it, she says we’ll have to fake it
We knew she’d come eventually
Greasin’ on American Express cards
It’s low rent, but keeping out the heat’s hard
Duffy’s good vibrations and our imaginations
Can’t go on indefinitely
And California dreamin’ is becomin’ a reality

Incidentally, the unusual title of the single came from the road Creeque Alley, home to a club in the Virgin Islands, where the Mamas and the Papas spent time. (Source)

As always I appreciate your visit. Enjoy the music.



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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is not the original single version. This is the LP version. I like the single version better as it has much more prominent piano in the first half. Notice how the entire last line is clipped on your version….they repeat the line, ” becoming a reality ” and all you can hear is “…y”. Release the single version on CD please and junk this one !

  2. Thanks for the bit of song trivia on the single version vs. the album version Jim. I wonder why there were two different versions in the first place? Was it intentional or incidental? Have any idea?

    Thanks again for the input and thank you for stopping by. No matter what the version it’s a great song — isn’t it?

  3. Apparently the 4 CD set, Anthology claims to have the original single mono version as a bonus track. However, the early piano entry (which I feel adds a lot to this song !) is STILL MISSING ! At least I couldn’t hear it in the sample from the Barnes and Noble site. Yes, it is indeed a terrific song….but I cannot for the life of me understand why the piano, which adds so much punch to the effectiveness, appears to be missing in every issue except the vinyl single. My copy is RCA D-4083, a Canadian pressing….

  4. Wow – thanks for the addition details Jim. I guess I am just used to my “Greatest Hits” version that I have been playing over these recent years and never noticed the diff from the original release. My memory isn’t that “long” anymore(LOL) so I guess I had nothing to compare it too.

    Piano (next to vocals) is my favorite instrument of all — so if you do ever run across that original in digital form I would love to hear it.

    Thanks again and have a great week. Hope to see you back soon.

  5. Live performance on Ed Sullivan, 1967, with extended piano and horns accompanyment (abbreviated):

  6. Thanks for the link Jim. I just checked in and saw your post today at work. Will check out the video when I get home tonight.


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