Song Lyric Sunday: “Creeque Alley”

So, today, Jim wants “a song that features another group or artist in it.” I found one that mentions a whole boatload of musicians and one or two groups: “Creeque Alley” by The Mamas & The Papas. It was written by John and Michelle Phillips. It’s an autobiography of their early days in LA and mentions a number of other musicians, including John Sebastian and Zal Yanofsky of The Lovin’ Spoonful, Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Barry McGuire of The New Christy Minstrels (who also composed and sang “Eve of Destruction”), and a couple of groups, The Mugwumps (of which the other members of the M&P, “Mama” Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty, were members) and The Lovin’ Spoonful. “Michi” is, of course, Michelle Phillips. Anyway, here’s the song…

The lyrics, from Metrolyrics:

John and Michi were gettin’ kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind
Zal 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

Zally said “Denny, you know there aren’t many”
“Who can sing a song the way that you do, let’s go south”
Denny said “Zally, golly, don’t you think that I wish”
“I could play guitar like you”
Zal, 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 Zal 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 Zal 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

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

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday for August 18, 2019.

20 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: “Creeque Alley”

  1. A lot of name-dropping in that one.
    I tend to put Cass in the “underrated” category. She had great range both stylistically and vocally, but the only thing most mutton-heads can think of to say about her is spreading that dumb rumor that she choked on a ham sandwich. She actually died from a heart attack. A ham sandwich is simply the last thing she ate.

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    1. She had a tremendous voice, and I think she carried that group. I mean, what did they do after she left? She was on just about every variety show around (and even hosted one herself) after the M&P. She was a real performer who had a great background in music. I loved her. Re the ham sandwich, I think it got out that they found a half a ham sandwich in her room before the autopsy and everyone jumped to the conclusion that was what killed her. The room she died in was at Harry Nilsson’s apartment, and Keith Moon also died there a couple of years later. Funny how that happens.

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  2. Great pick for today John. This song always makes me laugh when I hear it especially that line “And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass’. When I first heard this song I had no idea who McGuinn and McGuire were. Such a great song, thanks for participating again.

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    1. I knew who McGuinn was, but the McGuire and Lovin’ Spoonful references went flying over my head until I read the Wikipedia article. I have the songs ready for the next couple of weeks…

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  3. Love this song and the Mamas & the Papas! Very good mentions of others in this song. I was going to use this one, but found another to go with.
    I always liked the Lovin’ Spoonful, and the Byrds, too. 🙂

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  4. This one came on and the lyrics popped right back into my head. I’m sure we had the 45. Mama Cass had the most beautiful voice ever. Nice share.

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  5. Class Elliott had a beautiful voice that was beyond most female singers. She was so talented but her size and non Michelle Phillips looks brought on that bullying style from the rumour mongers saying she died eating a ham sandwich. It’s so wrong and nasty

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  6. When this song came out, it took me forever to figure out all the names in it. Those were pre-Google days.

    Love,
    Janie

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