Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Creeque Alley Shuffle

When the American singer-songwriter Don Mclean was once asked what his song "American Pie" meant he replied "It means I never have to work again". This response should become the maxim of all those who search for meaning in popular songs - and I openly confess I am a member of that brotherhood - but we ignore such comments or simply search for a deeper meaning in the rebuff itself. All I need is to be exposed to a song with words that go slightly beyond the "moon in June" variety and I instantly grab my analytical pick-axe and go digging for a meaning. For those who suffer from this compulsion, the Internet is a wonderful place. I remember attending the shadowy dph's hundredth birthday party last year. During the course of the evening he and a friend took to the stage and sung and played a song called "The Weight" (originally popularised by The Band in the 1960s). It's the kind of song you know without knowing that you know it. If you know what I mean. As soon as I got home I cast family, food, sleep and a missed episode of Coronation Street to one side so that I could search for websites devoted to interpretations of the lyrics. And, as I knew there would be, there were several of them. What brings me to this topic is the fact that the "shuffle" mechanism on my MP3 player has become addicted to a song called Creeque Alley by the Mamas and the Papas. If you think you don't know it take a look at the clip on YouTube, you will probably recognise it. Now I don't blame my shuffle mechanism, it's a catchy tune and, because the words are not stuck in the "love-dove" groove, it is a prime candidate for interpretation. The most comprehensive interpretation of the song can be found on the site which is dedicated to nothing other than its meaning : www.creequealley.com. I won't get into the analysis here, chase it up yourself if you are interested. But the fascinating thing is that part of the song is about Halifax (OK, Halifax Nova Scotia but who's counting) where I grew up and part of the song is about an alley in the Virgin Islands (the Creeque Alley of the title) where I myself once ate a fresh-baked croissant. Now is that scary or is that scary.

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