The story of the Mamas and the Papas, as "an epic tone-poem"
October 19, 2014 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Mama Cass opened a live performance of Creeque Alley with the following: "Everywhere we go, people ask us how we got together. We got tired of answering that question, because everybody does ask us*.... John has written an epic tone-poem of historical nature describing our very get-together, and so we'd like to sing it for you now. Cue the tape." If it's a bit too fast for you to catch all the references, Creeque Alley (dot com) spells it all out line by line, thanks to "painstaking research, some guesswork and a lot of help from many people," including Richard Campbell and his official Cass Elliot website.

* This is an odd VJ remix of the performance, but it includes the introduction without any modifications. The second clip is the unmodified performance, without the intro.
posted by filthy light thief (23 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mama Cass took a lot of shit from those other jerkos but she has the best voice and is the reason they were something instead of the Mugwumps imo.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


Seeing that John was (one of the) one(s) who was critical of Cass, it's weird that he wrote the history of the band. The website made the interesting point that the line "the only one getting fat was Mama Cass" refers both to her size, and the fact that she was the only one making money before the group formed.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:40 PM on October 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wish Mama Cass lived. She would have been a right tough broad of an old lady.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:48 PM on October 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


He got to tell the story and still take a poke at Cass, whom I think he resented. Win-win for John, the jerk.
posted by padraigin at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2014


I just realized that Love Bumps but prbably means Denny gave Mama an STD right? Either way, what a messed up line.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:08 PM on October 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's little doubt that John Phillips was an evil bastard, but he made Wolfking of L.A., easily the best complete work any of the Mamas & the Papas made inside or outside the group.
posted by item at 4:24 PM on October 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think i mentioned previously on the blue that the peak of Mamas and Papas internal tension might well have been "I Saw Her Again Last Night." Four people singing: Denny singing lead about an affair with a married woman, the married woman and her husband (Michelle and John) singing backup along with Cass, with her enduring crush on Denny. Not a band short on psychodrama.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:08 PM on October 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'll cop to a morbid fascination with John Phillips. The perfection of California Dreamin', the behind-the-scenes drama of the Mamas and Papas, the hats and furs and fur hats (leading up to the Wolfking look) and of course the drugs. But man he even looked like a total creep in his waning years.
posted by atoxyl at 6:23 PM on October 19, 2014


Weird, just heard "Monday, Monday" in the supermarket this afternoon and realized that I had totally forgotten about The Mamas and the Papas. Great band.
posted by octothorpe at 7:26 PM on October 19, 2014


the peak of Mamas and Papas internal tension might well have been "I Saw Her Again Last Night."

As well as the peak of their incredible harmonic invention. The backing vocals in that song absolutely blow my mind.
posted by mykescipark at 7:43 PM on October 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


For the John Phillips haters comes this old Spy Magazine "Party Poopers" item: ...AND THE SKY IS DORIAN GRAY John Phillips and his ex-wife Michelle Phillips have an unusual pact - he ages for both of them!
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


On I Saw Her Again, the vocal mis-start ('I saw ... I saw her again") is a studio mistake that they left in. Fantastic song. The Mamas and the Papas story is something else.
posted by parki at 8:43 PM on October 19, 2014


As well as the peak of their incredible harmonic invention. The backing vocals in that song absolutely blow my mind.

John Philips was a genuinely great songwriter. It's really the combination of Cass Elliott's voice (she was in the Mugwumps, actually, while John was not) and John's arrangements that took them all to the next level, though both would eventually do some very good stuff on their own.
posted by atoxyl at 8:55 PM on October 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


So is hat guy the one that was fucking his daughter?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:27 AM on October 20, 2014


ALLEGEDLY fucking his daughter. But yes, that's him.
posted by Optamystic at 12:34 AM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Hey everybody! A lovely lady, Cass Elliot" -- John Denver
posted by mikelieman at 5:26 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Damn. I forgot how that makes me cry. The way they use the mic. She walks herself out of the mix at the end of the first chorus. perfection.
posted by mikelieman at 5:33 AM on October 20, 2014


One of the more effective uses of a popular song as a movie theme (imho) is Cass Elliot's recording of Good Times are Coming for the Lee Marvin movie Monte Walsh. Her voice is so damned plaintive and affecting and so pure. Her voice and her lyrics perfectly meld with the bittersweet theme of the movie.

(I believe the version of Good Times in the movie was recorded specially for the soundtrack and differs from the single Cass released. I just know the movie version is haunting.)
posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 AM on October 20, 2014


Dang, Creeque Alley jumped into my head just this morning as I was on my way to work- hadn't seen this post yet. Thanks filthy light thief!
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:04 AM on October 20, 2014


The best association I had left with Lost by its end is that it introduced me to Mama Cass' cover of "Make Your Own Kind of Music."
posted by Zed at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2014


Alleged (99.999% certain) daughter-rapist, John Phillips.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:01 PM on October 20, 2014


Just in case anyone EVER wants to cut him a break: raped her first on the night before her honeymoon, hooked her on heroine, etc...
posted by IAmBroom at 4:03 PM on October 20, 2014


Cass later starred in a made-for-TV movie about a fat girl who suffers some humiliating harassment from men, loses weight through surgery, and comes back "reborn" as a beautiful, lithe woman who uses her attractiveness to wreak vengeance on the assholes.

I remember her acting as impressive. The humiliation scenes were... painful.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:11 PM on October 20, 2014


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