|Released April 1967|
Genre Pop, Rock
|Format 7" single|
|B-side "Did You Ever Want to Cry"|
“Creeque Alley” is an autobiographical hit single written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and composed by John Phillips, in 1967, 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 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's original group, the New Journeymen, spent time on vacation. The lyric "Greasin' on American Express cards" harks back to that time, during which they could only make ends meet by using their American Express 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 lyrics of the song also mention, directly or indirectly, many artists and bands who were part of the folk music scene at the time, including the other two members of The Mamas & the Papas, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, who were members of The Mugwumps, as well as 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 The Mamas and The Papas story are also mentioned, for example the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village. Michelle is referred in the lyrics by her nickname "Michi" ("John and Michi were getting kind of itchy, just to leave the folk music behind").
The repeated line that ends the first three verses, "No one's getting fat, 'cept Mama Cass", is modified in the 4th verse to "Everybody's getting fat, 'cept Mama Cass." (Elliot was known for being overweight and indeed morbidly obese; this contributed to her early death from heart failure.) The final lyric line, "And California Dreamin' is becoming a reality," refers to their hit song "California Dreamin'," and notes the point where the group achieved its breakthrough and left 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 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.