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I Saw Her Again

by

The Mamas & the Papas



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

This song was written by John Phillips, the leader of the Mamas And The Papas, about the affair between his wife, Michelle Phillips (a Mamas And Papas member), and Denny Doherty (also a Mamas And Papas member), which ultimately led to Michelle Phillips' unceremonious dismissal from the band and John and Michelle's divorce. Ironically enough, Doherty received a songwriting credit. The sessions for this album must have been as uncomfortable as were the sessions when Fleetwood Mac was recording the Rumours album 10 years later and the personal relationships in that band were imploding. (thanks, Dave - St. Paul, MN)
Lou Adler produced this song, and Bones Howe was the engineer for the session. According to Bones, the part around the 1:45 mark where "I saw her" is repeated twice was a happy accident. Said Bones: "We were punching vocals in, and when we came to that part where the rhythm stops and the group goes, 'I saw her again last night,' I just punched in early. They came in early, and so we stopped. And then we went back and started again, and I punched in at the beginning of the vocal, they started two bars later or whatever it was. And when I played it back, the vocal went, 'I saw her - I saw her again.' It was a mistaken punch. And Lou said, 'I love it! Leave it in.' It was an error, it was a mistake. But Lou was wise enough, it caught his ear and he left it. And I learned something from that. You go with your gut. If something catches - they could be - there are wonderful mistakes that happen in the studio and you have to learn to catch those when they happen and use them."
The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas Artistfacts
More The Mamas & the Papas songs
More songs about marital problems or divorce

Comments (22):

Multi-layered song with incredible harmonies. Heavily influenced by the Phil Spector "sound"; very elaborate production. I noticed that when I saw the group in person in 1967 that they did not perform this song live. It would have been impossible, I would think. This was the group's sophomoric effort, their 3rd attempt at a consecutive hit record, and was a dynamic attempt. In his biography, John Phillips bemoaned that it fared poorly compared to the first 2 hits: "It did well in many markets, but had a very short chart life." Yes, only 9 wks.
- Matthew, Toronto, ON
Far and away my M&P favorite. If the four endured a great deal of pain creating it, their efforts certainly paid off.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
In an interview Denny says that he was writing a song after the John found out about the affair. But the next day John showed him his own song; I saw her again. Denny wrote the music.
John said that he slept he slept with Cass, though he "did not love her. I'm in over my head, though I never think of her". It was to punish Denny, who was Cass' best friend, for sleeping around with Michelle, John's wife.
- caroline, maarheeze, Netherlands
Like California Dreaming,The harmonies,with Cass and Michelle,(especially at the end)make this song one of their best.Regarless of Denny's fopaux at the end,whathere intentional,or accidental,makes this song one of my all time favorites.
- kurtis, portland, OR
Some comments express puzzlement as to how the lyrics can relate to the affair or to John Phillips' own position and there is also the curiosity of Denny getting a writer's credit. I am guessing here, but I reckon John wrote the lyrics based on what Denny told him by way of an explanation/defence (or possibly what he imagined Denny's explanation might be) - that he didn't love Michelle, though he had told her he did and felt guilty about stringing her along, but he needed her around whenever he got lonely (needed sex?). The lyrics are thus as if said by Denny, not John, and it must have been extremely embarrassing for him, and mortifying for Michelle, not only to hear these lyrics in public but actually have to sing them themselves. On this reading of the position, to award Denny credit for the lyrics, given his actual, or assumed, role as the source, would be a nice twist of poetic justice or, if you like, added salt in the wound.
- Douglas, Maidenhead, United Kingdom
This is one of my top 5 favorites of the '60s. I just heard it on the Music Choices Solid Gold Oldies channel and googled the lyrics. I once heard an interview with Michelle Phillips somewhere, and she stated the false start was a mistake but they left it in, but didn't really give a reason. I agree that the words have a confusing motivation, being sung by the husband of a woman who is straying.

Hey, plenty of songs have lines I've NEVER understood the meaning of, despite their being GREAT songs.

Does anyone even know what a "ticket to ride" is, or why the girl who had one didn't care?

Does anyone know what this means:
"So goodbye, yellow brick road,
Where the dogs of society howl
"You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm goin' back to my plow (makes some sense so far)
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Huntin' the horny backed toad,
Oh, I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

"What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane,
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again.
Maybe you'll get a replacement,
There's plenty like me to be found,
Mongrels who ain't got a penny
Sniffin' for tibits like you
On the ground."


Does anyone know what this means:
"You can't start a fire
Without a spark, (okay, that much makes sense)
This gun's for hire,
Even if you're just dancin' in the dark."
- steve, Baltimore, MD
Paul McCartney told group members that the false start on one of the choruses had to be a mistke. He said "No one's that clever."
- Ken, Louisville, KY
I don't understand what the lyrics have to do with a wife's affair with a friend. Except maybe that TJ's right and it's about his own retaliatory affair? But that's still not quite about the wife's affair! Either way, I don't understand why the protagonist says it feels so good to know a woman he never thinks of and has been stringing along will never leave him! What am I missing? Anyway, still like the song, even though the strings are way overwhelming! About the possibly mistaken vocal, Ron, that panning you hear could have easily been done in the mix, and it doesn't mean it wasn't originally sung by accident just because they did some obviously intentional mixing with it!
- fyodor, Denver, CO
This is Ron in Auburndale's brother Dave. Im not sure about the mistake part with Denny, but I do know that what he is talking about with the stereophonics is true. Back in the 60's people did more with music with less technology.Artists would put out an album every year, sometimes 2, unlike todays artists who milk an album for 3 years. My brother and I drink beer and listen to real music (beatles, beach boys, m & p, ELO, stuff from 60's and 70's)and disect it. we should make our own website.
- David, Lakeland, FL
In a TV interview, John said that he went to bed with Mama Cass, to get back at Denny for going to bed with Michelle, who was his wife. If you listen closely to the lyrics, you'll hear:

(I'm in way over my head;
Now she thinks that I love her (yeah, yeah)
Because that's what I said
Though I never think of her.

And it makes me feel so good to know
She'll never leave me.)
- TJ, Milwaukee, WI
I saw an interview with Michelle who did say Denny errored near the end of the song. Regardless of the stereo channel, that's what she claimed.
- Dave, Des Moines, IA
This is my favorite M and P song. The arrangement is so complicated for what some believe is a simple song! As far the "early start" towards the end of the song, I highly doubt that it was a mistake. Reason being, if you listen to this song with a pair of headphones, Denny's vocal track throughout the whole song is in the left speaker, and the girls are in the right. At that point, Denny's vocal switches over to the right speaker, "I saw her" and then back to the left "I saw her again..." and what's so cool is that they flipflop the speakers again shortly "To string her along..." goes into the right speaker while the female vocal goes to the left, then they switch back to their rightful speakers. I'm pretty sure this was done for effect, not by mistake. I love how creative M and P were with their stereo arrangements. Sixties stereo was awesome, no one is that creative with stereo sound anymore... Anyway a fun thing to do with this song is turn the balance all the way to the left speaker and listen to the whole song all the way through. Then play the song again with the balance all the way to the right speaker. It's like listening to two completely different songs! You will find all kinds of neat stuff you didn't even realize was in the mix. I love M and P, they were definately creative, and they have some of the most intricate harmonies ever in pop music. So sad that three out of the four of them were gone much too young...
- Ron, Auburndale, FL
this song reminds me of a situation i am passing now. so much so that i googled on it after heraring the tune on sirius 60's. and i wound up here. oh, i heard John Phillips say in an interview that Denny did write it with him.
- steve, new york, NY
A great song by an outstanding group. Can't hardly believe Michelle Phillips is the only member of the original group alive. God Bless John, Cass, and Denny.
- Paul, Boston, MA
I have always wondered if the string arrangement was added later, maybe after the original vocal & rhythm tracks. Musicians will notice that the string parts are waaayy sharp compared to pitch of the rest of the track.
- Dave, St Paul, MN
One of a handful of great pop rock (quasi)love songs of the Sixties. They were simple - snappy and upbeat. But the really cool thing it that could do make you feel the love thing without being slow and serious. I still LOVE this song after all these years!
- Matt, Atlanta, GA
Bands can indeed become families, but the Mamas and Papas seem like part of _everyone's_ family. We've been keeping track of their lives and loves for the past forty years, like they were our cousins, or old school friends.

Rest in peace, Cass and John. We'll keep an eye on Michelle and Denny.
- Mark, Lancaster, OH
so much energy put into this song towards the end one of my fav's Dave in wi.
- dave, deforest, WI
I remember hearing recently in a retrospective look at "The Mamas & The Papas" that John Phillips had Denny write the song or maybe just the lyrics or some other contribution as a kind of revenge for denny's affair with Michelle. That may be why Denny Doherty is credited as a writer.
John, 45, Fort Worth, Texas

ps I don't hear a kazoo but I'll listen for it the next time I hear the song on the radio.

Yes, Michelle Phillips did state in the same retrospective look that Denny's early start and the hesitation that resulted was deliberately kept in because it sounded good.
- john, Fort Worth, TX
I keep thinking I hear a kazoo at the beginning of the verse that goes " Every time I see that girl". Am I crazy, or is that really a kazoo I'm hearing?
- Mike, Germantown, MD
Bands can become like families, passions run high, and when issues like loneliness and opportunity come up, there are bound to be victims.
Truth be told, all things happen in their timing, and The mamas and papas will always be a part of our musical history.
- Annie, Mountain Center, CA
at the end of this song denny comes in early with I saw her ......I saw her again last night ..the band thought that it added a little something that wasn't being done at the time and that was ....mistakes that sounded good
- Joe, Ocala, FL
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