Tommy James credits the tune Crimson and Clover for enabling the tape to pivot indigenous a singles-oriented am radio tape to FM radio gradual album-oriented rock. There is no this change, that is sure, the band’s career would have been over, together the single-dominated music industry had readjusted almost overnight come one driven by album sales. Such crucial song need to have crucial meaning. What is the meaning of the indigenous crimson and clover? What carry out they signify?


In enhancement to being critical catalyst that allowed Tommy James & the Shondells to become an album band, it to be the very first song that Tommy James had written without his ancient co-writers, Ritchie Cordell and also Bo Gentry. So, exactly how did Tommy James come up through that well known word-combo crimson and clover? here is what he had to say about it:

I just made that up as I got out of bed one day. That’s true —just 2 of my favourite words that i glued together. And, come me, that sounded really profound, but I have no idea what the meant.

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Despite the evident lack of definition and the writer’s very own admission the the words were offered just since he preferred them and they sounded an excellent together, human being will continue to ‘find’ meaning in the lyrics. For example, finding definition in the color red, or crimson, and the clover flower.

The non-meaning doesn’t stop both songwriters native laying claim to their origin. While both James and also Peter Lucia agree the the location Crimson and also Clover came first, there has actually been some disagreement end which among them come up through the words. Lucia insurance claims that Crimson and Clover to be his idea and also that that based it on his high college football team, The Crimson. The team regularly played versus a team indigenous a place called Hopatcong. Hopatcong is a native American surname for a ‘green place.’ I mean we are claimed to believe that this make Lucia think that clover leaves, notwithstanding the fact that clover is also a flower.

James’s story is less esoteric and an ext believable. His favourite color and also his favourite flower popped into his head. Although i really can’t imagine someone who favorite shade is actually ‘crimson,’ together I doubt most world could pick out crimson from any kind of other the shade of red. This was no the an initial time he had chosen words at random. Mony Mony is likewise meaningless. Now that you know that the indigenous crimson and also clover host no distinct significance, ns invite you to view the remainder of the lyrics through that lens. It’s a song around a guy who look at an attractive girl the ‘he think he might love.’ over there is no deep meaning. Tommy James didn’t compose songs with deep meanings.

It was more than just the extensive (sounding) words, though, the made the track unique. The track utilized studio approaches in fix up ways and also was uneven all your previous recordings, sounding prefer what numerous would contact psychedelic. They were able to use 16 track tape, something the did not exist until that year, with countless instruments and overdubs. They accomplished that strange vocal sound by running the vocals with a guitar tremolo.

It to be the biggest solitary the group ever before had, selling 5 1/2 million copies within eight weeks. It reached no. 1 ~ above the Billboard warm 100 in February 1969 and spent 16 main on the chart. It additionally reached no. 1 ~ above the Cash Box peak 100 and no. 6 on the Billboard Mainstream rock chart. The did really well in other nations too, consisting of Australia, Canada, Germany, new Zealand, and also Switzerland. Another big hit from the album to be Crystal Blue Persuasion, which got to no. 2 in June 1969.

Tommy James and the Shondells produced a longer version because that the album. A center section was included by copy the music native the an initial two verses, maintaining the lift vocals yet without any lead vocals. Guitar solos were placed using stole guitars and fuzz guitars, one after ~ another. A copying error created a slight key drop in the solos, i m sorry was kept in the recording.

The album, that the same name, went twin platinum. Hubert Humphrey, who Tommy James had actually campaigned with before releasing the album, wrote the liner notes.

Cover Versions

Joan Jett and also the Blackhearts covered Crimson and also Clover on your debut album in 1981. It reached no. 7 ~ above the warm 100 in might 1982, ending up being their second biggest struggle after I Love absent ‘N Roll, which fight no. 1 in march 1982.

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The song has been covered many other times, including by Dolly Parton, Prince, and Cher.