Saturday, August 7, 2010

Turtles -- "Happy Together" (1967)

Me and you, and you and me
No matter how they tossed the dice
It had to be

How many of the 9th-grade girls who were in the audience when the Rogues performed this song were thinking "Me and you, and you and me" as they watched yours truly?  

There I was -- a magnificent 6-feet-plus tall, a svelte 140 pounds (dripping wet), with my medium-length hair (my barber had accused me of "going Beatle" on him when I deserted my grade-school crew cut a couple of years earlier), my size 12A wingtips, and my black horn-rimmed glasses -- wailing away on the South Junior High school organ.  Raise your hand if you were one of them.  Go ahead, don't be shy . . . Someone?  Anyone?  (Let's wait just a minute more . . . )

There's a hand? Whose hand is that -- I can't quite see who it . . . YOU?  Really?  OMG, you were so cute in 1967!  WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SOMETHING?!?!?

Many of you have seen the picture of the 1966 Rogues that I posted to the Facebook page for our 40th high-school reunion:

The Rogues (May 1966)
I found that photo with a few hundred pounds of other me-related stuff at my parents' house last week.  (My mother kept everything except my baseball cards.)  John Sutter was no more excited in 1848 than I was when I found all that stuff -- most of which had not been viewed by human eyes in 40-odd years.

One thing I've been struck by since returning from the reunion is how we didn't really talk about anything that had happened since we were all teenagers.  Occasionally someone would ask me where I lived now, or how many kids I had and how old they were -- but then the conversation immediately shifted to our high-school or even junior-high-school memories.  There was very little talk about jobs, marriages, divorces, what kind of cars we drove, etc.  

Was the whole reunion a refreshing and reenergizing respite from our current lives -- a cool dip in the waters of pleasant childhood memories?  Were we all trying to deny reality for as long as possible -- making a desperate attempt to make the swim from our Alcatraz Island present to the  freedom of our childhood?

I don't know.  What I do know is that I have had a hell of a time reentering my real life.  I can't get the people I saw and the memories that kept popping up out of nowhere out of my mind.  I feel like Pandora.  Not only can't I get the lid back on the box, but I'm not sure I really want to.  

So if anyone sees a time machine that will take me back to the late 1960's on eBay or somewhere like that, please let me know immediately.  There are a few things (and a few people) I'd like to take a mulligan on.

(For those of you who hoped that I was done with reunion-related posts, sorry to disappoint.  I've got a couple more that I started before the reunion, but didn't finish in time -- and a couple more inspired by the reunion, including this one.  After that, we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming.  We may revisit Joplin on occasion, of course, but only every so often.) 

Back to the Rogues.  The picture I posted shows a four-man group.  But when we were 9th-graders, we added Joe Davis -- known to rock historians as "The 5th Rogue."  That was when the rogues made the transition from solid rock foursome to a supergroup -- it was as if Eric Clapton had joined forces with the Beatles.

Before Joe joined, there were four Rogues.  Bruce Hodson was an explosive and intense Keith Moon-like drummer, who was 100% focused on the music whenever we started to play.  Jim Matthews was a talented and versatile musician -- equally adept playing jazz trombone or rock guitar.  Versatile Jack Davidson took up the bass guitar when Joe joined the band -- Jack also had a lot to do with picking the songs we played.  

I was the keyboardist, but to be truthful, I was really just eye candy for the many local girls who were our core fans.  That's why I was in the Rogues, after all -- for all the fabulous babes.  I agreed with Davy Jones of the Monkees, who said this after seeing the Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show: "I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that."

Wah-wah pedal
What Joe (who is still a professional musician) mostly brought to the Rogues -- in addition to his musicianship and true 1960's attitude -- was a "wah-wah" pedal.

The wah-wah pedal was invented in late 1966, but I know Joe had one when we were 9th-graders -- and we completed 9th-grade in May 1967.  So we were pretty cutting edge, baby.  (Except for my wingtips and black horn-rimmed glasses, of course.)

Joe Davis at a recent performance
When you ask rock aficionados what songs use the wah-wah pedal to best effect, the most common responses are probably "White Room" (Cream), "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Guns n' Roses), and "Enter Sandman" (Metallica).  But those guys never heard the Rogues play its rendition of the Turtles megahit, "Happy Together." 

Released in February 1967, "Happy Together" quickly climbed to the #1 position on the Billboard "Hot 100," knocking the Beatles' "Penny Lane" out of the top spot.

It was truly a perfect little 3-minute AM-radio song ("PL3MAMRS"), with a metronomic beat and some great harmony singing by the Turtles' two lead singers.

The Rogues owned this song.  I can't begin to count how many times we played it at our rehearsals.  All I know is that I will never forget the words -- not if I went 20 years without hearing the song.  If I live to be 100, and don't remember my kids when they come to visit me, I'll remember "Happy Together."

I think the band may have disbanded when it did because we knew we could never top "Happy Together."  How do you top perfection?  You don't.  It can't be done.

So we unplugged our guitars, broke down our drum kit, and walked away.  The Beatles did it.  So did the Rogues.  Finis.  Sayonara.  Hasta luego, hasta manana, hasta yo mama!   

Today, the Rogues are more hotter than they ever have been before.  There's been talk of the band getting back together and playing at the 45th reunion in 2015.  

I'm not saying "no" to that idea at this point but I'm not saying "yes" either.  I'll have to talk to my old mates first.  But if we get money for nothin' and your chicks are free, I say "Do it!"

Unfortunately, no one thought to record the Rogues' performing "Happy Together."  (If someone had, you'd best believe my mother would have kept a copy.)  So here's the Turtles' version of the song:

Here's another great Turtles song, "She'd Rather Be With Me":

Here's "Happy Together" on iTunes:

Here it is on Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. Loved this song! I remember going to a record store on Main St. in Joplin somewhere between 7th & 15th, I think, almost every wk. & I'm sure I bought this single. Wish I could've seen the Rogues perform their version. I would've been a faithful groupie (as long as I was home by curfew & already had my homework done)!