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Crimson and Clover

Crimson and Clover

Tommy James and the Shondells
Crimson and Clover

Song meaning of Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells, and what it is about

Tommy James wanted to take the group's sound in a different direction when "Mony Mony" came out, so he started making his own music. James stated that he was doing this out of "necessity and ambition" at the time, seeking to transition from singles to albums. He left the band with full creative authority from Roulette Records after parting ways with main composers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell.

It was decided upon to call it "Crimson and Clover" even before a song was created for it. As James was waking up, the combination of his favourite colour, crimson, and his favourite flower, clover, occurred to him. It had no apparent meaning. (An other kind of clover that is endemic to Europe is known as the crimson clover.) Tommy James and bassist Mike Vale wrote a song that go with the statement, but it was never released.

His subsequent partnership with drummer Peter Lucia, Jr. proved to be more fruitful (Lucia has stated that he coined the Crimson and Clover moniker while observing a high school football game between the Morristown, New Jersey Crimson and Hopatcong (green, or "clover"), the latter being his hometown). In order to get more time to finish the song, the group decided to release "Do Something to Me" when Roulette Records requested a new single during the song's preparation.

"Crimson and Clover" is one of the first songs recorded using 16-track technology; it was recorded in approximately five hours in late 1968. The majority of the instruments were played by Tommy James, with Mike Vale on bass and Peter Lucia, Jr. on drums. The guitar in the song has a tremolo effect that is adjusted to vibrate in time with the beat of the song. The band came up with the concept to use the tremolo effect with vocals at the conclusion of the session. In order to do this, James sang "Crimson and clover, over and over," and the output from the amplifier was captured while the voice microphone was connected to an Ampeg guitar amplifier with the tremolo switched on.

It peaked at number one in the US in 1969 and four other nations after spending 16 weeks on the US charts. With five million copies sold, the record is the best-selling track by Tommy James and the Shondells.

Release Date



Tommy James, Peter Lucia


Tommy James


Roulette, R-7028

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