Marrakesh Express

Album: Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
Charted: 17 28
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  • Marrakesh is a city in Morocco famous for leather goods. The "Marrakesh Express" is the train Graham Nash took on a trip there from Casablanca in 1966. The lyrics are filled with the sights, sounds and vibes that he encountered.
  • Before he left The Hollies in 1968, Graham Nash offered this song to the band, but his bandmates rejected it as being not commercial enough. Their refusal to record this and other tunes he wrote was one of the main reasons Nash left the band and moved to Los Angeles to join up with Crosby and Stills. "After a couple months of that, a man is liable to go insane," Nash said of having his songs rejected, adding, "especially being the only one who was smoking grass at the time." Fortunately, his new bandmates liked the tune and it ended up on their debut album.
  • "Marrakesh Express" was Crosby, Stills & Nash's first single. The individual group members were accomplished and had name recognition (Crosby from The Byrds, Stills from Buffalo Springfield), but when they came together, their harmonies and presentation were unlike anything else in popular music. Their first album sold 4 million copies and made them a major touring attraction. For their next album (Déjà Vu in 1970), they added Neil Young and got even bigger. Over the next few years, they released various live albums and compilations that sold extremely well, but couldn't get their heads together for another studio album. When their third album finally appeared in 1977, it was without Young.
  • Graham Nash told Rolling Stone magazine the story of this song: "In 1966 I was visiting Morocco on vacation to Marrakesh and getting on a train and having a first-class ticket and then realizing that the first-class compartment was completely f--king boring, you know, ladies with blue hair in there - it wasn't my scene at all. So I decide I'm going to go and see what the rest of the train is like. And the rest of the train was fascinating. Just like the song says, there were ducks and pigs and chickens all over the place and people lighting fires. It's literally the song as it is - what happened to me."
  • David Crosby babbles some strange-sounding words like "Whoopa, hey mesa, hooba huffa, hey meshy goosh goosh" at the beginning of the song. Graham Nash remembered: "It's some Crosby gibberish that we moved from the beginning of 'Guinnevere' to the front of 'Marrakesh Express.'" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
  • Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell got a preview of this song when they gathered for dinner one night at Cash's Nashville house in 1969 before the song was released. Mitchell, who was dating Graham Nash, taped an appearance on The Johnny Cash Show that day and brought Nash, who was relatively unknown, as a guest. At some point, Cash said they all had to "sing for their supper." Everyone waited for Dylan to go first, but when he didn't, Nash grabbed a guitar and played "Marrakesh Express," earning a round of applause from this very discerning audience. Nash says he then proceeded to walk into a lamp.
  • Surprisingly, "Marrakesh Express" was the group's only Top 40 single in the UK, homeland of Graham Nash.

Comments: 19

  • Anonymous from NyI loathe this song, sounds like a lot of stoned rich college students off to get more stoned, on their parents dime, in foreign countries. When I was around at that time I was working in a restaurant and coming home to a father dying of cancer in the living room.
  • Butch from Atlantic CoastIf you’d like to know the real theme of the “Marakesh Express” , read Mitchner’s book “The Drifters”. It was popular in the sixties for American Hippies to get lost, new I D, dodge draft,
  • Maggie from West Palm BeachI had an lp I think had Marrakesh Express covering one side. I am going nuts looking for info. Quite possibly another bands lp. Strange I can't remember because I bought severalas someone always five fingered it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 13th 1969, "Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills and Nash entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; and on August 17th, 1969 it peaked at #28 (for 1 week) and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    As a trio (without Neil Young) they had ten records make the Top 100 between 1969 and 1989; with two reaching the Top 10, "Just A Song Before I Go" (at #7) and "Wasted On The Way" (at #9)...
    With Mr. Young they charted three more times on the Top 100; "Woodstock" (at #11), "Teach Your Children" (at #16), and "Our House" (at #30).
  • John Bindon from Lockport, NySlightly off topic - after spending hours online researching - I cannot find it even on Wikipedia. When was the first Marakesh Express train commissioned to travel along the rail line there ?

    What year was the actual first train commissioned and how long did it run for ?

    What exact cities were stops along the Marakesh ? <--for this last question - what were the stops in the late 1950s ?

    Thanks in advance for any help you come up with.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaScott, I tend to agree. When non-famous people invent mindless words, they don't get weaved into linguistic puzzles or conspiracy theories. Musicians probably laugh over the public confusion they cause.
  • Scott from Killeen, TxJim,, I first heard the gibberish at the beginning on a local Dallas TV Morning show in the 1960's called "Slam Bang Theater, featuring Icky Twerp!" About a year later my cousin in Houston spun the album for me, I recognized it and laughed my ass off. It doesn't mean anything. it was just David Crosby being stoned and silly, just as he was at the beginning of the song "Almost Cut My Hair" from "De'ja Vu'".
    I was 13 when the album came out.
  • Randy from Houghton Lake, MiI was 13 when this song came out loved it then and still do at age 56.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhWow. I love this song; it's sung so smoothly and feels like you are on that express...the cadence of the music and lyrics make me feel so great when I hear it...but I always thought it was sung by Simon & Garfunkle! So now I know.
  • William from Brick, NjNot real sure what exactly is spoken in there Jim. But if you enter Kush kush into Google image, it's all weed (marijana) pictures! That makes sense too.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaQUESTION: If anyone knows what is being spoken in the first 3 seconds of this song, please post info. It sounds phonetically like "Wooba hemese hooba hafa hemesh kush kush." At first I thought it was backwards talking, but it sounds even more foreign when reversed!
  • Lori from Alexandria, VaDarrell, I couldn't agree more with your opinions about the atrocious war in Iraq. But, how do you reconcile those comments with your broad-based condemnation of Muslim nations? Morocco is a beautiful part of the French-speaking Maghreb region of northern Africa. Morroco is a land of diversity, with a long history of successfully combining its Berber, Jewish, and Arabic cultural heritage.
  • Darrell from EugeneYes, I know that Crosby, Stills and Nash is cool (I own numerous albums, CDs, 8-tracks and cassettes, as well as those of CSNY), but what radio station would play a song about a trip to a Muslim country during an illegal, unjust, controversial war with Iraq? Only one that is run by bureaucrats who get input from college students, just as in every big city or college town, such as the one in which I live.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThis was the band's only hit in the UK, though the artists all had numerous hit singles in other guises
  • Jason from Austin, TxThis last December myself and two friends of mine were in Morocco and riding with our "driver" on the way to Marrakesh. I waited a long time for the moment when we would be entering the city so I could finally listen to this song and have it feel jusssst right. I did buy a Gelapa, but it wasn't striped.
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkGraham Nash leaving the Hollies was the best thing for him and the best thing for the Hollies; they had their biggest hits without him and he wrote his best songs when he was free to do his thing with CSN. I have a best of CD of the Hollies, though, that doesn't include some of Nash's contributions, and they're kind of jerks about him in the notes on it, which was disappointing. They also deliberately recorded some songs in that CSN close vocal harmony style, but the songs themselves were nowhere near as good as CSN's and went nowhere.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI love this song! CSN is awesome!
  • Phoebe from Swedesboro, NjBack in the mid 70's I met and stayed friends with a young guy named "little john",caldwell,,,he told me one night about his travels to new york, he said he was sitting in times square one day and a guy approached him and struck up a conversation with him,,john asked him what he did for a living and the man replied he was a song writer and his name was graham,,graham asked john his name and what he was doing in times square,john replied,johnny caldwell,not doing much of nothing,,don't have to be nowhere,,,don't know how much of this is true but I do know my firends name is really johnny caldwell,,just thought I would share that.
  • Vickie from Philadelphia, PaSo glad that you added this fine song to your list. This has always been one of my favorites. It's a great "slice of life" tune that really gives you that travelling feeling. It's colorful and upbeat, and you can see, hear, and feel not only the train, but also the whirl of activity in the towns that it passes through. The "slice of life" aspect reminds me in a funny way of the Beatles' "Penny Lane."
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