This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
Creeque Alley is a song by THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS about the formation of that band.
It was written by Papa John, John Phillips, who was the main songwriter for the group.
As you heard, the song starts with the line...
John and Mitchy were gettin' kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind
John, you know. Mitchy is Michelle Phillips, John's wife. They were both in a group called THE JOURNEYMEN which is where they met.
Upon spying her, John instantly dumped his first wife and children, one of whom became the actress and singer Mackenzie Phillips, and took up with Michelle, later marrying her. From the Journeymen, we have Hush Now Sally.
Continuing with the song...
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
Denny was Denny Doherty, the fine tenor voice in The Mamas and the Papas. Zal was Zal Yanovsky. He and Denny were Canadians and were in a group there called The Halifax Three. Sebastian is John Sebastian and went on to form the LOVIN' SPOONFUL with Zal.
There was a plethora of songs from which I could have chosen something. It was really a matter of the mood I was in at the time. My mood suggested Darlin' Companion with the unmistakable voice of John Sebastian singing lead.
Back to the song...
McGuinn and McGuire just a gettin' higher
In L.A., you know where that's at
McGuinn is Jim (later Roger) McGuinn who went on to create one of the finest bands of the era, THE BYRDS.
The song of theirs I've chosen is from a little later in their career. It seems that Peter Fonda wanted Bob Dylan to write music for his film Easy Rider. Bob refused but wrote a verse of a song and told Peter to "give this to McGuinn.”
He did and got a theme song for the film and McGuinn got an album out of it called “Ballad of Easy Rider.” That was the name of the song as well.
As an aside, it seems that Peter was a big fan of The Byrds, and early on he had them round to his place to play for him. Gee, that'd be al lright. The story is that he based his character in the film on McGuinn and Dennis Hopper's character on David Crosby.
McGuire is Barry McGuire, once in the NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS and later had (and is still having) a rather successful solo career.
From the Christys (Christies?) here is a song that made it to the charts, Green, Green.
That lead vocal was by BARRY MCGUIRE.
His most famous song, written by P.F. Sloan, is Eve of Destruction but you probably know that one. Instead, here's something very unlikely, Try to Remember from the musical "The Fantasticks.”
The song again...
When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps
Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps
We've already met Denny, John (Sebastian) and Zal. Cass, naturally is MAMA CASS (Cass Elliot, originally Ellen Cohen).
Mama Cass first came to notice in a group called THE BIG 3.
They weren't hugely successful but they did release a couple of records including this one, The Banjo Song. You might know it under another name.
After The Big 3, Cass got together with Denny, John (Sebastian) and Zal and, as was mentioned in the song, formed THE MUGWUMPS.
John was soon replaced by Jim Hendricks who had been in The Big 3 with Cass. They made one album. Listening to their record, you can hear hints of what was to come later. See what you think with Everybody's Been Talkin'.
After the demise of The Mamas and The Papas, Mama Cass had a decent solo career until her untimely death (heart attack; ham sandwiches were not involved).
She began with a song that was actually on a Mamas and Papas album but was released as a single under her own name, Dream a Little Dream of Me.
And ending the song...
And California dreamin' is becomin' a reality.
Naturally, I'll play that song by THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS.
Here is a bonus. I remember seeing this program a few years ago and recently found it on YouTube. It's Barry McGuire singing, and updating, his most famous song perfomred live on Australian television program, Spicks n Specks, in 2009.