♫ I Saw Her Again ♫

When I played ♫ Dedicated To The One I Love ♫ a couple of nights ago, I mentioned that in my search for a Mamas & Papas song that I hadn’t already played here, I found not one, but two songs that fit that bill.  This one, I Saw Her Again, is the other one!

An interesting, and kind of sad story behind the origins of this song.  Turns out that John Phillips wife and fellow band member, Michelle, had been having an affair with the other ‘Papa’, Denny Doherty.  This affair, combined with an affair between Michelle Phillips and Gene Clark of The Byrds, resulted in the brief expulsion of Michelle from the group for about two months.  Denny Doherty is given credit for co-writing the song, but some say that the song was John’s retribution against Doherty for the affair.

The group broke up in 1967, and John & Michelle divorced two years later.  Tragically, Mama Cass, who was doing well with her solo singing career, died in her sleep of a heart attack at the age of only 32.

This is one of the most popular of the Mamas & the Papas songs, reaching #1 in Canada, #5 in the U.S., and #11 in the UK.

I Saw Her Again
The Mamas & the Papas

I saw her again last night
And you know that I shouldn’t
To string her along’s just not right
If I couldn’t I wouldn’t
But what can I do, I’m lonely too
And it makes me feel so good to know
You’ll never leave me

I’m in way over my head
Now she thinks that I love her
Because that’s what I said
Though I never think of her
But what can I do, I’m lonely too
And it makes me feel so good to know
You’ll never leave me

Every time I see that girl
You know I want to lay down and die
But I really need that girl
Don’t know why I’m livin’ a lie
It makes me want to cry

I saw her again last night
And you know that I shouldn’t
To string her along’s just not right
If I couldn’t I wouldn’t
But what can I do, I’m lonely too
And it makes me feel so good to know
You’ll never leave me

But what can I do, I’m lonely too
And it makes me feel so good to know
You’ll never leave me

Every time I see that girl
You know I want to lay down and die
But I really need that girl
Don’t know why I’m livin’ a lie
It makes me want to cry

I saw her again last night
And you know that I shouldn’t
To string her along’s just not right
If I couldn’t I wouldn’t

I’m in way over my head
Now she thinks that I love her
Because that’s what I said

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Edmund Andrew Phillips
I Saw Her Again lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Creeque Alley ♫

I sat back earlier tonight, closed my eyes, and waited for a song to come to me.  Well, a song didn’t come to me, but a group did … The Mamas and the Papas!  Checking my archives, I found that I haven’t played very many by them, and they certainly deserve a wider venue than what I have given them thus far.  There wasn’t much verifiable trivia in my two usual ‘go-to’ sources, SongFacts and Wikipedia, so I delved deeper, went further afield, and hit the jackpot!  I apologize for the length of the post, but I found the trivia fascinating … all news to me … and I thought/hoped you would, too.  If not, then just skip to da song!

From a website titled Best Classic Bands

Numerous autobiographical songs have been written since the dawn of rock, but few have told the story of a band’s formation as vividly and colorfully as The Mamas and the Papas’ “Creeque Alley.” Released as a single in late April 1967, it climbed to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100; it also appeared on the quartet’s third album, Deliver, which itself rose to #2.

The song, credited to the group’s husband-and-wife co-founders John and Michelle Phillips, chronicles the events leading up to the 1965 creation of the Mamas and the Papas, which also included Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. The lyrics are stocked with names and places, some of which may have been (and still are) unfamiliar to fans of the group. We’ll break it down.

First, there’s the song’s title. Creeque (pronounced creaky) Alley is a real place, one of a series of alleys (actually named Creeque’s Alley and owned by the Creeque family) on the docks on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The soon-to-be members of the Mamas and the Papas spent time there shortly before changing their musical direction and taking on their new name. There they were still performing folk music, at a club called Sparky’s Waterfront Saloon, and basically trying to make ends meet and figure out their futures.

The song’s story line only makes passing reference to the Mamas and the Papas’ time on the island though, and never mentions Creeque Alley by name. It starts in the years leading up to the seemingly preordained coalescence of the four singers.

The first line, “John and Mitchy were getting’ kind of itchy just to leave the folk music behind,” refers to John and Michelle’s activities as folk singers in the early ’60s. John Phillips, then 26, had been singing with a folk group called the Journeymen when he met 17-year-old Michelle Gilliam during a tour stop in San Francisco. They fell in love and, after John divorced his first wife, married on Dec. 31, 1962, moving to New York where they began writing songs together while Michelle did modeling work to earn some cash. By late 1964, with the rock scene exploding, John and Michelle had become, like many others, “itchy” to move away from folk. It wasn’t all that easy, they quickly discovered, and the couple, along with Doherty formed the New Journeymen in the meantime. (Trivia note: Early New Journeymen member Marshall Brickman, who was replaced by Doherty, went on to co-write some of Woody Allen’s best-known films and won an Oscar for Annie Hall.)

In the meantime, other similarly inclined folk artists were coming into one another’s orbits. First, there were “Zal and Denny, workin’ for a penny, tryin’ to get a fish on a line,” which refers to Zal Yanovsky and Dennis (known as Denny) Doherty. Both Canadians, they’d been working together in a folk trio called the Halifax Three in their home country. “In a coffeehouse Sebastian sat” brings into the picture John Sebastian, the New York City-born singer-songwriter who at the time was part of the Even Dozen Jug Band and would soon form one of the most beloved American rock bands of the era. And then there were “McGuinn and McGuire, just a gettin’ higher in L.A., you know where that’s at.” McGuinn, of course, was Jim (later Roger) McGuinn, whose group the Byrds would vault to the top of the charts with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” in the late spring of ’65, while McGuire was Barry, whose rendition of P.F. Sloan’s protest song “Eve of Destruction” struck a nerve that summer, also catapulting to the #1 position.

The first verse leaves off with a name-drop of the fourth member of the Mamas and the Papas: “And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass.” Cass Elliot (born Ellen Naomi Cohen), originally from Baltimore, she also had a background in folk music when she came to the attention of the other folkies in the song. She’d sung in a trio called the Big 3 with Tim Rose and Cass’ husband, James Hendricks (not to be confused with New York scene regular Jimi Hendrix), but like the others she saw the proverbial writing on the wall and wanted to expand her range of music. The “gettin’ fat” remark has a double meaning, however: not only was Elliot physically large but she was the only future M&P member who was making a decent living with her music, singing jazz in the Washington, D.C., area.

The second verse begins with a couple of mutual compliments: “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?’” And so they headed south from Canada, soon finding themselves at a popular club in New York’s Greenwich Village: “Zal, Denny and Sebastian sat (at the Night Owl), and after every number they’d pass the hat.” (More trivia: The Night Owl would become the home base of the Lovin’ Spoonful, Sebastian and Yanovsky’s group, and much later on would be the site of the famed New York record store Bleecker Bob’s.)

Meanwhile, McGuinn and McGuire were “still a-gettin’ higher in L.A.” and Mama Cass was still “gettin’ fat,” but no one had yet found their destinies.

Verse three gives us some more background on Cass’ run-up to joining the group. She was planning to attend college at Swarthmore, the song says, but instead hitchhiked to New York to see if she could make it in the music world. (Trivia note: Cass never planned to go to Swarthmore—she wanted to attend Goucher College near her hometown of Baltimore. But John Phillips needed a rhyme so he used sophomore and Swarthmore.) Upon her arrival in NYC, she met Denny Doherty and fell in love with him.

“Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps” adds the next piece to the puzzle: The Mugwumps were a folk quintet formed in 1964 featuring Elliot, Doherty, Sebastian, Yanovsky and Hendricks. (The John here refers to Sebastian, not Phillips.)

The Mugwumps recorded enough material to be compiled into an album in 1967, which did not feature Sebastian, but the group was short-lived as its members were also “itchy to leave the folk music behind.” The next verse ties up the loose ends and takes us to the point where everyone is on the verge of fame: “Sebastian and Zal formed the Spoonful; Michelle, John and Denny getting’ very tuneful; McGuinn and McGuire just a-catchin’ fire in L.A., you know where that’s at.”

And there you have it: the various figures peel away from folk and move into what was then called folk-rock: Sebastian and Yanovsky teamed with bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler in the Lovin’ Spoonful; the Phillipses, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty became the Mamas and the Papas; McGuinn led the Byrds for several years; and McGuire had a chart-topping hit as a solo artist. In fact, says a previous verse, “McGuinn and McGuire couldn’t get no higher and that’s what they were aimin’ at.”)

“And everybody’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass,” goes the final line in that verse, inferring that success had arrived. But there’s some unfinished business, that matter of the time spent at Creeque Alley.

The last chorus/verse informs us that it wasn’t overnight success for the Mamas and the Papas by any means. It’s here, at the end of the song, that the scene shifts to the Virgin Islands. The singers, still called the New Journeymen and minus Cass at first (as the song said, they “knew she’d come eventually”) are cash-poor and borrowing on their American Express cards. They’re “broke, busted, disgusted,” but thanks to some help from a fellow named Hugh Duffy, who owned a boarding house in Creeque’s Alley, the four young singers who would soon be known worldwide were able to start thinking about their future: “Duffy’s good vibrations and our imaginations can’t go on indefinitely,” they sing toward the end of “Creeque Alley.” So the four returned briefly to New York, then all headed out to Southern California to see if they could catch a break.

“And California Dreaming is becoming a reality” is the final line of the song. We all know what that one means.

The song, released in 1967, charted at #1 in Canada, #5 in the U.S., and #9 in the UK.

Creeque Alley
The Mamas & the Papas

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 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, whoa

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

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Edmund Andrew Phillips / Michelle Gilliam
Creeque Alley lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ California Dreamin’ ♫

I was surprised to find I hadn’t already played this one, as it is probably the one that The Mamas and the Papas are best known for.  I shall remedy that oversight tonight!

What you may not know (I didn’t) is that while this song was written by John & Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, it was first recorded by none other than Barry McGuire of “Eve of Destruction” fame!  Another thing I didn’t know … else had long since forgotten … is that The Mamas and the Papas were only together from 1965 thru 1968 when they agreed to dissolve the group.  I thought surely they were around longer than that!  They were, after all, an icon of the 1960s!

Says John Phillips about the origins of the song …

“It’s my recollection that we were at the [Hotel] Earle in New York and Michelle was asleep. I was playing the guitar. We’d been out for a walk that day and she’d just come from California and all she had was California clothing. And it snowed overnight and in the morning she didn’t know what the white stuff coming out of the sky was, because it never snowed in Southern [California]. So, we went for a walk and the song is mostly a narrative of what happened that day, stopped into a church to get her warm, and so on and so on.”

One part of the lyrics that is often mistaken is “I pretend to pray”, which is often mistaken for “I began to pray”.  And now … the song:

California Dreamin’
The Mamas & the Papas

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
I’d be safe and warm (I’d be safe and warm)
If I was in L.A. (if I was in L.A.)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees (got down on my knees)
And I pretend to pray (I pretend to pray)
You know the preacher like the cold (preacher like the cold)
He knows I’m gonna stay (knows I’m gonna stay)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown (all the leaves are brown)
And the sky is gray (and the sky is gray)
I’ve been for a walk (I’ve been for a walk)
On a winter’s day (on a winter’s day)
If I didn’t tell her (if I didn’t tell her)
I could leave today (I could leave today)

California dreamin’ (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day (California dreamin’)
On such a winter’s day

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Edmund Andrew Phillips / Michelle Gilliam Phillips
California Dreamin’ lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Monday, Monday ♫

I thought this one appropriate for the day …

While awaiting the release of California Dreamin’, band member Denny Doherty was prodding songwriter John Phillips to come up with some new material. Phillips said he would come back in the morning with “A song with universal appeal.”  Monday, Monday was that song, which Phillips said took him all of about 20 minutes to write.

Interestingly, Doherty, who sang lead on this song for The Mamas & the Papas thought very little of Monday Monday when they recorded it.

“Nobody likes Monday, so I thought it was just a song about the working man. Nothing about it stood out to me; it was a dumb f–kin’ song about a day of the week.”

As you can imagine, he was taken by surprise when the song became a huge hit. Doherty wasn’t alone in his incredulity: Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips didn’t like the song either, and John Phillips claimed he had no idea what the song meant.

The Mamas & the Papas used top-tier Los Angeles studio musicians on their recordings. On this track, Larry Knechtel played keyboards, Joe Osborn played bass, Hal Blaine was on drums and P.F. Sloan played guitar. Sloan was the baby of the bunch, just 20 years old when the song was released in 1966.

On March 2, 1967, the Mamas & the Papas won a Grammy Award for this song, in the category Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.  The song was performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The performance was filmed for the movie of the festival, but not included in the final print.

The song charted at #1 in Canada and the U.S., #3 in the UK

Monday, Monday
The Mamas & the Papas

Bah da bah da da da
Bah da bah da da da
Bah da bah da da da

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday mornin’, Monday mornin’ couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evenin’ you would still be here with me

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin’ you gave me no warnin’ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me

Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
A you can find me cryin’ all of the time

Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be
But Monday mornin’, Monday mornin’ couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evenin’ you would still be here with me

Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
A you can find me cryin’ all of the time

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, it just turns out that way
Oh Monday, Monday, won’t go away
Monday, Monday, it’s here to stay
Oh Monday, Monday
Oh Monday, Monday

Writer/s: JOHN EDMUND ANDREW PHILLIPS
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind