Mama Cass Elliott and I were both born on September 19. She was lead vocalist in a top harmony group. So I have always felt an affinity for Mama Cass. I snagged a 2005 bio of her, Dream a Little Dream of Me, a couple of days ago and looked through it today. As usual when I read a music bio, the subject’s songs come to mind. The Mamas & the Papas‘ songs have been running through my head all day. Some great stuff–after the Beach Boys, the best pop harmonies of the sixties. “I Call Your Name,” “Monday, Monday,” “Twelve-Thirty.”
The book, by British journalist Eddi Fiegel, has a lot of tidbits about unrequited love with Denny Doherty and other bandmates, and about the uncertainty regarding the cause of death (the ham sandwich by her bedside had not been touched, so it wasn’t choking, as we all heard).
But the author has a very distracting predilection for peppering many sentences with italics. Really annoying. She also turned some Cass quotes into Britishisms. At one point, she quotes Cass as saying that she had to “turn straight away round” to New York after recording a “demonstration tape.” Cass Elliott never said no “straight away round,” and you can bet she used the term demos, not demonstration tapes. Blimey!
Hers is a tragic story. Cass was a great singer with a great sense of humor and stage presence. But she didn’t look the way the really big female stars are supposed to. And she died too young. But she left some fine recordings behind, especially the albums of The Mamas & the Papas, but also her solo stuff. I will need to check out The Big 3 and The Mugwumps. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard recordings by those early groups Cass was part of.