“Music Monday” Meaning of the song “Up on Cripple Creek”

Up on Cripple Creek

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“Up on Cripple Creek”
Single by The Band
from the album The Band
B-side The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Released November 29, 1969
Recorded 1969
Genre Roots rock, americana
Length 4:34
Label Capitol Records
Writer(s) Robbie Robertson
Producer John Simon

Up on Cripple Creek” is the fifth song on The Band‘s eponymous second album, The Band. It was released as a (edited) single on Capitol 2635 in November 1969 and reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] “Up on Cripple Creek” was written by Band guitarist and principal songwriter Robbie Robertson, with drummer Levon Helm singing lead vocal.

A live performance of “Up on Cripple Creek” appears in The Band’s live concert film The Last Waltz, as well as on the accompanying soundtrack album. In addition, a live version of the song appears on Before the Flood; a live album of The Band’s various concerts and shows with Bob Dylan while touring together in 1974.

“Up on Cripple Creek” is notable as it is one of the first accounts of a Hohner Clavinet being played with a wah-wah pedal. The riff can be heard after the chorus of the song. The Clavinet, especially in tandem with a wah pedal was a sound that became famous in the early to mid ’70s especially in funk music, and continues to be popular to this day.



[edit] Lyrics

Drawing upon three of The Band’s favorite themes — The American South, American folk music, and alcoholism — the song tells the story of a miner who goes to Lake Charles, Louisiana to stay with a local girl who he knows will put him up for free while he blows his money on drinks. Although he admits to having some feelings for his “little Bessie”, he uses her hospitality to drink himself to oblivion. At the end of the song, he pushes off once more for greener pastures, although with the stated intention of coming back to his Bessie.

[edit] Chart performance

Chart (1969-70) Peak
Canadian RPM Singles Chart 10
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 25

[edit] Personnel

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