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May 04, 2012

The Mamas & The Papas - Creeque Alley (1967)

When the rock group known as The Mugwumps split up, the four members split into two pairs. John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky went on to form The Lovin’ Spoonful, while Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty got together with husband and wife, John and Michelle Phillips, to form this group. They were briefly known as The Magic Cyrcle, but changed their name after hearing a member of the Hells Angels on television refer to the gangs’ women as their “Mamas”. They were together from 1965 until 1968 (with a brief reunion in ’71), had a lot of internal conflict, including a love triangle, but were able to release five successful albums and eleven hit singles.

Pronounced "creeky alley," this song comes from the group’s third album, The Mamas & The Papas Deliver, released in 1967. It was written by John and Michelle Phillips, and serves as an autobiography telling the story of how the group was formed. The McGuinn and McGuire mentioned are in fact who you’re thinking they are: Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and Barry McGuire who had released “Eve of Destruction” in 1965.

album art

The Mamas & The Papas - Creeque Alley (1967)

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Lyrics:

John and Mitchy 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 Swathmore
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

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
Tents 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

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