When I get off of this mountain
You know where I wanna go?
Straight down the Mississippi River
To the Gulf of Mexico
To Lake Charles, Louisiana
Little Bessie, girl that I once knew
And she told me just to come on by
If there's anything she could do

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

Good luck had just stung me
To the race track I did go
She bet on one horse to win
And I bet on another to show
Odds were in my favor
I had 'em five to one
And that nag to win came around the track
Sure enough we had won

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

I took up all of my winnings
And I gave my little Bessie half
And she tore it up and threw it in my face
Just for a laugh
Now there's one thing in the whole wide world
I sure would like to see
That's when that little love of mine
Dips her doughnut in my tea

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

Now me and my mate were back at the shack
We had Spike Jones on the box
She said, "I can't take the way he sings
But I love to hear him talk"
Now that just gave my heart a throb
To the bottom of my feet
And I swore and I took another pull
My Bessie can't be beat

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

There's a flood out in California
And up north it's freezing cold
And this living off the road
Is getting pretty old
So I guess I'll call up my big mama
Tell her I'll be rolling in
But you know, deep down, I'm kinda tempted
To go and see my Bessie again

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

Lyrics submitted by Broken_Arrow

Up on Cripple Creek Lyrics as written by Robbie Robertson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Up On Cripple Creek song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI see a lot of discussion of origins and influences here. The fact of the matter is that it really doesn't matter what the nationality of the members is. If you read or listen to interviews the group they all mentioned heavy influence from Southern bluesmen folk music, in much the same way that many of the popular UK bands of the era were influenced (Cream, the Rolling Stones, etc.). When Robbie Robertson came to the states one of his first jobs was as a guitarist for Ronnie Hawkins play hardcore Rockabilly and electrified Blues and he incorporated this into much of his writing. I think the only thing that Levon's nationality lends to it all is a bit of credence and legitimacy for certain songs (not the least of which being The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down).

    What sets the group, as a whole, apart from many others though is that they repeatedly defy quantification. It's virtually impossible to tie down their music, or even individual songs, to any one genre of school of influence. Cripple Creek, for example, is essentially a folk song bordering on bluegrass- Flatt and Scruggs could easily pick this on banjo and six-string and it would be wonderful. The lyrics are very much in that vein- they're pretty straight forward in the story, littered with colloquialisms, and on the whole very simple (ie. the singer is a traveling man- probably a salesman, trucker, riverboat man- who is an alcoholic and who has a definite contempt for the hectic world around him. His solace comes in the form of a Louisiana woman he befriended- Bessie). What makes the song more difficult to define is the mishmash of styles that come into play during the orchestration. You have Robertson and Danko playing a very folksy/river music rhythm, Manuel's piano is definitely blues, and Helm adds a a very interesting back beat that he believed made it more "danceable". The real monkey wrench in the idea of "theory", though, comes from Hudson and his Clavinet. He mainly plays it in verses and it adds this very odd funky feel to the music that most people would identify more with, say, the work of Stevie Wonder several years later. For the choruses he shifts to the mellow organ- not dressed up, just steady and cool, which offers a reprieve and a sense of serenity (which is appropriate based on the lyrics).
    So, the bottom line is you have a Southern folk song fused with Motown/Funk, and a groovy (there really is no other word for it) beat. The bottom line of this being that, regardless of their influences, the Band encompassed the entirety of the American music experience, and probably more so than any other group. Not only did they refuse to stick to a single genre on the whole, they would often change styles in the middle of a single song. I think this is what allowed them to be so endearingly popular with people from all cultures and genres. Even Roger Waters from Pink Floyd has been quoted as saying that during the Post-Barrett, Pre-Dark Side period one of the albums played most while the band was at work was Music from Big Pink.

    I suppose this ended up being a bit off topic and for that I apologize- and no, I'm not entirely sure what the doughnut line means, but I prefer not to dissect it too much.
    FloydianWholiganon August 09, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song reminds me of summer...it's just a great feel-good kind of song.
    Reginaon February 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat tune. I've got a copy of the original vinyl 45 RPM release. When it comes to meaning, I think the lyrics speak for themselves. I saw The Band perform live once, and their musicianship was awesome! Listening to this particular tune, nobody would ever believe that The Band is four-fifths Canadian (only Levon Helm is American). Their cultural connection to the U.S. is through Louisiana for, you see, many French Canadians were deported south to Louisiana in the 1760's when the British captured Nova Scotia. In Canada they were known as "Acadians", whereas today in the south they're now known as "Cajuns". This is the cultural heart of the music of The Band, and it really comes out in this track, particularily in the yodelling at the end of the chorus. Long live Dixie!
    RayManon March 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentkind of like "black water" by the doobie brothers. kinda southern rock. AWESOME!!
    plasmaHDon November 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI find this interesting because I'm from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Comments by "RayMan" attempt to explain the connections between this Canadian band and Louisiana, but they are merely conjectural at best. It is true that the Louisiana Cajuns are decendants of Canadian Nova Scotians, but these aren't the people in Lake Charles! Lake Charles is in extreme southwest Louisiana; it's more Texan than Cajun! The most of the state's Cajuns live in Acadiana, an area centered around the city of Lafayette, an area in the Southcentral portion of the state. If someone was seeking Cajun heritage, they shouldn't look for it in Lake Charles any more then they should in Houston! The second problem with RayMan's explaination comes from his comments on the yodelling. Put simply, Cajuns don't yodel. I am a fan of Cajun & Zydeco music and I have never heard yodelling from a Louisiana band. Yodelling comes from the Alpine folk music. In American music, it has been incorporated into some Country and Bluegrass, but these are completely different genres compared to Cajun & Zydeco. Though some Canadians may yodal, this is completely disjointed from Louisiana music.
    AAAveryon February 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGotta say the Last Waltz version is easily my favorite...really up-tempo and amazing vocals.

    P.S. The Band's southern influences mostly emanate from Levon Helm (the drummer whose voice is incredible -- sings on this song actually). He's the only member of the Band actually from the south. The rest are from Canada, though they were all incredibly interested in exploring the rural south sounds/vibes in their music.
    music1994on March 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow this is a great song I am surprised there aren't more comments. This song always put me in a good mood and makes me crack up.

    Does anyone know the meaning of the line "Now there's one thing in the whole wide world, I sure would like to see, that's when that little love of mine, dips her doughnut in my tea". Does he mean he likes it because she bends over and he can see her cleavage?
    xWaRpeDxon April 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song, im a simple man, my family is from missoura and this warms my heart to hear this song.
    cumon peopl POST MORE COMMENTS!
    zoso15128on July 19, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSome people have given this a lot of thought:


    It's just a great song! They never make sense. If they did, they'd be boring.
    pholkrawkon February 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Band should be listed as one of the ten, maybe five greatest musical groups of all time. If you don't like their music, fine. If you don't think they're music is exceptionally great, you are crazy.
    AlkalineTrioFanon August 16, 2011   Link

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