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Happy Together

by

The Turtles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Despite what the title implies, this is not a song about a couple in love. According to Gary Bonner, who wrote the song with Alan Gordon, the song is about unrequited love. Our desperate singer wants the girl to "Imagine how the world could be so very fine," proposing what would happen "If I should call you up." The line in the fadeout, "How is the weather?" is when he realizes they will never be more than passing acquaintances, and he resorts to small talk to keep from bursting into tears. (thanks, David - Mesa, AZ)
The song's composers Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon were the bass player and drummer of the Boston area group The Magicians. Bonner became a regular member of Kenny Vance and the Planotones. Gordon, who died in 2008 at the age of 64, had songs recorded by Alice Cooper, Frank Zappa and The Lovin' Spoonful. Talking about how the song came together, Alan Gordon said: "I had nearly half a song already written, mostly lyric ideas, but couldn't find the right melodic concept. The Magicians were in the middle of a week-long engagement at the Unicorn Club in Boston, and one early morning I was visiting my divorced father in nearby Ayer, Massachusetts after being up all night. I had stopped to have breakfast at the Park Street Diner in the town and was miserable with no sleep, the endless dumb gigs we were playing and having a songwriter's block. About the only melody that was throbbing in my tired, fried brain at that hour was the time-immemorial repeated open string pattern that Allen (Jake) Jacobs, the Magician's lead guitarist, would use as he incessantly tuned and retuned after, before, and frequently during each piece we played. Suddenly, some words began to fit and literally minutes later music and lyrics started to take shape. I excitedly and in fairness asked Jake to complete the song with me as co-writer, but he refused, saying it was all 'too simple' for him to be involved, so my regular partner Gary then helped me with the finishing touches. When Gary Klein at the Koppleman/Rubin office heard the result, he immediately knew the song would be perfect for the new and upbeat image being created for The Turtles, and it was his continued enthusiasm that convinced the group to record it."
After the song was turned down by a number of groups, Bonner and Gordon recorded a demo at Regent Sound Studio with some session musicians, including guitarist Ralph Casale and bassist Dick Romoff. It was Casale who came up with the main figure which set the groove for the song. He told us: "A chord sheet was placed in front of the musicians and we immediately proceeded to put this song together. I came up with what I considered and called a Lovin' Spoonful feel. I created the figure and all the other musicians including Bonner and Gordon immediately understood the direction. The vocal arrangements fell into place very nicely. Regent Sound was an excellent studio so the demo sounded like a finished product. I later told everybody, 'I just heard a hit record.' As Aunt Flo put it, the original demo was phenomenal. In fact the Turtles' recording sounds as though they used the basic demo track and overdubbed horns. The Bonner/Gordon vocal arrangement sounded a lot like the hit record also."
The Turtles were formed by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan. They were saxophone players who did whatever was trendy in order to make a living as musicians. They played surf-rock, acoustic folk, whatever was big at the time, and in addition to their own bands, played backup for The Coasters, Sonny And Cher and The Righteous Brothers. After a while, they gave up sax and became singers, signing a deal with White Whale Records as The Crosswind Singers. When British groups like The Beatles took over America, they tried to pass themselves off as British singers and renamed themselves The Tyrtles. The record company made them change the name to The Turtles, and tried to make them sound like The Byrds, who were leaders of the folk-rock trend. Like The Byrds had done before, The Turtles recorded a Bob Dylan song for their first single - "It Ain't Be Babe." They had a few more minor hits, and recorded the original version of "Eve Of Destruction," which became a #1 hit for Barry McGuire. They recorded some gloomy songs that completely flopped, so they decided to try some happier songs. After many other artists passed on "Happy Together," The Turtles decided to record it in an effort to change their image once again.
Bonner and Gordon also wrote other Turtles hits like "She'd Rather Be With Me" as well as "Celebrate" by Three Dog Night. (thanks, Rick - Lafayette, NJ)
In the three years after The Turtles recorded this, they had several other hits, but disbanded in 1970. Volman and Kaylan joined Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention as "Phlorescent Leech and Eddie." After a few years with Zappa, they started recording as Flo And Eddie. They wrote music for the animated movies Dirty Duck, Strawberry Shortcake and The Care Bears, and hosted their own nationally syndicated radio show. They also played on many famous songs by John Lennon, Roger McGuinn, Hoyt Axton, Alice Cooper, Blondie, Bruce Springsteen, The Psychedelic Furs, Sammy Hagar, Duran Duran, and The Ramones. In 1984, they went on their "Happy Together Tour" as The Turtles Featuring Flo And Eddie.
The line "If I should call you up, invest a dime" harkens back to a time when telephone calls were often made at pay phones that cost a dime. These days, he would probably just call from his cell phone, which is much more convenient, but far less romantic.
A version by Dawn charted in 1972, as well as one by Captain And Tennille in 1980 and The Nylons in 1987. In 1979, T.G. Sheppard made it to #8 on the Country charts with his version. Australian singer Jason Donovan hit the Top-10 in the UK with it in 1991. Other artists to record it include Mel Torme, The Ventures, The Vogues, Buck Wild, Vikki Carr, Petula Clark, Melba Moore, Donny Osmond, Percy Faith and Frank Zappa.
This has appeared on the soundtracks to the movies Adaptation, Ernest Goes To Camp, Life Or Something Like It, and Freaky Friday.
This has been used in lot of commercials for clients like Burger King, The NFL, Nintendo, Red Lobster, Sony Playstation, Florida Orange Juice, Heineken, Clinique and Nickelodeon. (Thanks to Carlin America publishing for above 6. For more, check out www.carlinamerica.com)
In 1989, this was used in a movie of the same name starring Helen Slater, Patrick Dempsey and Brad Pitt. (thanks, Marek - Warsaw, Poland)
This song was used in an episode of That '70s Show. The scene of the song's usage involved the character Fez imagining what his life would be like if his friends were his family. The sequence later transitions into the characters performing the song. (thanks, Alec Thorp - Yorktown Heights, NY)
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Comments (31):

With regards to the Turtles post credits - Volman and Kaylan (Flo & Eddie) did have an esoteric career as guest singers on many albums. For those that want to hear some amazing back up vocals done by them, seek out T-Rex's Slider and Electric Warrior albums. They provide backing vocals that are second to none. I am 52 an was at the right target age of 60's bubblegum and 70's top 40. (Paper Lace/Partridge Family etc.) All great music. Many of today's contemporary bands like Dressy Bessy and many others have definitely pulled influences from earlier times; but then who isn't?
- David, Orange, CA
It is somewhat strange that the Vogues did a version of this, because "You baby (nobody but you)" was for the Vogues as a followup to their single "You're the one", yet they turned it down, the Turtles then performed it and it became a hit single.
- Brandon, Seattle, WA
buh, buh, BUH, buh, buhbuhbuhBUHbuhbuhBUH, buh, buh, buh BUH! How can you resist singing along, especially at the top of your lungs if you're alone when it comes on the car radio! This is a timeless classic with fabulous vocals that meld perfectly with the timeless theme of "boy's unrequited desire for girl". I have always loved it.
- Camille, Toronto, OH
Garry Bonner's original demo of this song is phenomenal!
- aunt flo, statin island, NY
To Bill in southeastern part of Fl...Teaneck, NJ is correct but not a baker.
- aunt flo, statin island, NY
in response to david of mesa az.'s incorrect interpretation of the lyrics...the line in the fade out "so how is the weather" refers to the fact that the guy is feeling so happy and so high being so in love that when people see him his happiness is so obvious they say "so how is the weather (up there)?"
- aunt flo, statin island, NY
The Turtles did record "Eve of Destruction" and it appears on many of their greatest hits collections. Also, Richard from Alabama, what a groovy story! Hope she is still well....
- Michael, Kissimmee, FL
As a band arranging exercise, I did an arrangement of "Happy Together" for brass ensemble while I was in college (music major). The director (later to become the director of Univ. of Wisconsin's marching band) kept my score--grrrr!
- Dave, Cullman, AL
Jena - what are you smoking? Richard from Taladega, sweet story! Great song
- Lisa, Milwaukee, WI, WI
I love the Flobots version
- Jeremy, COLUMBUS, Georgia
On New Year's Eve of 1986, saw The Turtles w/ Flo & Eddie (who were basically a mucic/comedy group at the time) with Weird Al as their opening act at the Bottom Line in NYC. Quite an entertaining evening. Turtles did an excellent version 'The Pied Piper'.
- Lester, New York City, NY
One time after the Turtles just played in Hollywood,(this being during the time Happy Together was out)
a very green young man(me) followed Howard Kaylan accross the street where they were also playing, went up to him and asked "how do you get that vocal sound" on Happy Together?...a wise Mr.Kaylan decided not to comment, as the question was too general..I later realized that this record was masterminded by an arranger (AlCapps?)can't remember...but it's a wonderful sound.
looking back, it was a humorous experience!
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
Don't know if this was said, but this was also featured in a 80's commercial for "Teddy Grahams", i believe because they were mixing chocolate and regular flavors together, hence "Happy Together."
I love this song, and it still makes me think of teddy grahams.
- Liam, Windsor, CA
I think I had read or heard somewhere that Flo and Eddie did the backing vocals on Lindsey Buckingham's hit "Trouble". When my first granddaughter was born in 1999, she had a reflux problem where she was not able to keep milk or formula down. She was placed in neonatal intensive care for a couple of days so they could figure out what the problem was. Sadly, they would not let her have anything by mouth during that time and had to give her nutrition through IV. Anyway, I stayed with her all night during those two days. She would wake up every hour or so probably starving to death and would start crying. While we could not hold her much because of her IVs, I would rub her back gently and sing this song to her softly and tell her that when she can eat, Poppy will buy her a big thick juicy burger. It didn't fill her hungry tummy, of course, but she did stop crying and go back to sleep. (Thankfully, after a couple of days the problems were solved and now she's a healthy 8 year old and for some reason loves the music of the Turtles!)
- Richard, Talladega, AL
Volman and Kaylan with Frank Zappa...What a thought!
- MusicMama, New York, NY
The Turtles evolved The Crossfires.
- Abby, Forest Hills, NY
The best thing about this song was Frank Zappa's parody of it.
- MusicMama, New York, NY
Great Song . It's been in a million movies and commercials it seems like.
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
This song is an index to my memories of 1967.
A key to unlock memories.
- ED, HOUSTON, TX
I love this song...to bad nobody knows any of the other Turtles hits. :-P
- Spencer, Los Angeles, CA
Bill from FL- What a ridiculous idea!!!!!!!! I love this song
- Buzz, Hamilton
(couldn't edit)
I meant "Blowin' in the Wind" was sung in several episodes of the old show Gomer Pyle. I think Neighbors himself do it. I seem to recall a group of "hippies" (well, TV hippies *Heh!*, one played by Rob Reiner) out in the woods singing this as Gomer happens by.
- James, Vidalia, GA
In 1962 The guys are beginning High school & just starting a band that by 1967 would be in the middle of a faaar out trip !
- Steve, Salt Lake City, UT
Happy Together was also played in the rarely- seen movie, The magic garden of Stanley Swetheart, which was Don Johnson's first movie,form 1969 or 70.
- Rod, Worcester, MA
During 1963 and 1964, The Turtles began recording as a surf band called "The Crossfires", releasing a couple of 45's on the Capco and Lucky Token labels (One Potato Two Potato, Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, Silver Bullet (based on the William Tell Overture) and even a remake of "That'll Be The Day"). The British invasion called for a makeover, hence the new name "Turtles" (another animal noun ending in "es" like The Beatles), a new folk-rock sound emulating The Byrds (another Los Angeles band that many believed was British), and everything else that helped them survive and ride on top of the British wave.
- Rick, San Juan, United States
Someone told me this song was written by a baker in Teaneck, New Jersey. I guess not.
- Bill, southeastern part of, FL
Among the 60's artists that previously turned down the song "Happy Together" were the Vogues and Gary Lewis And The Playboys.

-Scott,El Cajon,Ca
- Scott, Port Jefferson, NY
The beginning of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" HAD to be inspired (or ripped off) from this song!!
- Jena, Bonner Springs, KS
The guys behind the Turtles recently sued Applebees for using the tune but not the lyrics to this song. The lyrics were something like "Imagine steak and shrimp, I do, ..."

They raised a fuss about "artist integrity"!
- Matt, Charleston, SC
Speaking of the bottom comment, I heard this in N64's Super Smash Bros. ad and it was funny!
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
New Found Glory recorded their own version of this song calling it "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
- Randell, Mounds, OK
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