Hey, hey Cripple Creek ferry
Butting through the overhanging trees
Make way for the Cripple Creek ferry
The waters going down, it's a mighty tight squeeze

All alone the captain stands
Hasn't heard from his deckhands
The gambler tips his hat and walks towards the door
It's the second half of the cruise
And you know he hates to lose

Hey, hey Cripple Creek ferry
Butting through the overhanging trees
Make way for the Cripple Creek ferry
The waters going down it's a mighty tight squeeze

Hey, hey Cripple Creek ferry
Butting through the overhanging trees
Make way for the Cripple Creek ferry
The waters going down, it's a mighty tight squeeze

Lyrics submitted by radicaledward76

Cripple Creek Ferry Lyrics as written by Neil Young

Lyrics © WORDS & MUSIC A DIV OF BIG DEAL MUSIC LLC, Broken Fiddle Music

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Cripple Creek Ferry song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentIt’s about a gambling boat. In many parts of the US gambling was, and in some places still is, only legal on a boat that is “on the river” and not at dock. This song is about a structure that’s really a bridge across a very small river but because it’s anchored rather than completely attached to either river bank, its operators refer to it as a “ferry”. Picture a boat sitting at anchor, perpendicular to the flow of a river with its bow almost touching one side and its stern almost touching the other. “It’s a mighty tight squeeze”. The captain “hasn’t heard from his deck hands” because they don’t exist. He’s only captain in title to exploit the legal loophole which makes the structure a “boat”. The “second half of the ‘cruise’ “ and the use of the term ‘ferry’ are facetious nods to the fact that this is not a boat at all. Of course as with all great lyrics there is room for endless metaphorical interpretation, but basically this is a song about a gambling boat.
    zephcourtneyon May 27, 2018   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI see it somewhat like the Old and New Testament and Heaven.

    It is hard to get into Heaven. The water's going down, it's a mighty tight squeeze. The floods of Noah; God promised not to destroy the world like that again. Jesus is coming and there will be a new way.

    All alone the Capitan (God) stands. He hasn't heard from his deck hands (prophets and other religious people of the Old Testament). The gambler (the devil) makes his bet with God. It's the second half of the cruise (New Testament) and you know He (God) hates to lose. God sends his only Son to save everyone and win the bet.

    From Matthew 19:24 "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." A mighty tight squeeze indeed.
    forueinahpetson December 05, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song tells the story of two passing ships on the Cripple Creek in Colorado. One vessel is the ferry used to cross the waterway. The other is a riverboat whose passengers include, but are not limited to, it\'s captain and crew, as well as a gambler. The creek, like many of the rivers in the western region, relies on the spring melt for it\'s flow. What starts as a trickle in January becomes a deluge in April. In the later summer the flow slows, and water levels recede. The ferry captain is calling out to the riverboat captain to "make way". In the receding river it will be a "mighty tight squeeze ". The gambler has relieved the riverboat crew of their wages, and they are nowhere to be found.
    GratefulEdon December 02, 2021   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe only explanation I've ever heard, which does bare merit, is that it's a reference to a woman's genitalia. I'm not trying to be rude, it's what a hippy woman from the days of Neil Young told me.. budding through the over-hanging trees... it's a mighty tight squeeze...
    breedskinon March 09, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe scary thing is that all of the above four interpretations, each vastly distinct from the others, possess some validity. To me, they all make some sense.

    That's a tribute, perhaps, to Neil's mini-masterpiece, a minute and thirty-four seconds of pure heaven.

    When I explore the backcountry of the Upper Missouri in north-central Montana, which in season requires availing oneself of the three small ferries operating on the Missouri River, I conscientiously play "Cripple Creek Ferry" every time that I access the service. The music gets me in the mood for the lonesome wanderings that lie ahead of me.

    It's a trip, baby, a real gas. And the most magnificent, mysterious, mind-blowing country that I've ever seen.

    Thanks, Neil, for seeing me across the river.
    MeridianManon February 25, 2020   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI don't know maybe he's warning someone who's been living on the edge that he might fall off if he isn't careful.
    coolnuts5on June 17, 2006   Link

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