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|Single by The Mamas & the Papas|
|from the album The Mamas & The Papas Deliver|
|"Did You Ever Want to Cry"|
|Recorded||Autumn 1966, Western Recorders, Hollywood, CA|
|John Phillips, Michelle Phillips|
|The Mamas & the Papas singles chronology|
"Creeque Alley" is an autobiographical hit single written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas in late 1966, 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. It made #9 on the UK charts, and #4 on the Australian and #1 on the Canadian charts.
The title of the song, which does not occur in the lyrics, is derived from Creque or Crequi (pronounced "creaky") Alley, home to a club in the Virgin Islands where John and Michelle Phillips' original group, the New Journeymen, spent time on vacation. The lyric "Greasin' on American Express cards" refers to that time, during which they could only make ends meet by using their credit cards, 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.
The Phillips' lyrics mention, directly or indirectly, many artists and bands who were part of the folk music scene at the time, including fellow band members Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, 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 band's story are also mentioned, such as the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village. Michelle Phillips is referred to in the lyrics by her nickname "Michi" ("John and Michi were getting kind of itchy, just to leave the folk music behind"). John Phillips said that he wrote the song to tell their producer Lou Adler "who was who" in the band's history.
The repeated line that ends the first three verses is "No one's getting fat, 'cept Mama Cass". (Elliot suffered from obesity, and was also making the most money.) This is modified in the fourth verse to "Everybody's getting fat, 'cept Mama Cass". The final lyric line, "And California dreamin' is becoming a reality", is an apparent reference to their hit song "California Dreamin'", and marks the point at which the group achieved its breakthrough, leaving behind the lifestyle described in the rest of the song.
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 on 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.