Happy Together

Album: Happy Together (1967)
Charted: 12 1
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  • 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, as he resorts to small talk to keep from bursting into tears. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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 Me 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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.
  • Besides The Turtles, three other acts took this song to the US Hot 100:

    Dawn featuring Tony Orlando [medley] (#79, 1972)
    Captain & Tennille (#53, 1980)
    The Nylons (#75, 1987)

    In the UK, the Australian singer Jason Donovan made #10 in 1991 with his version, and in 1979, T.G. Sheppard made it to #8 on the country chart with his rendition.

    Other artists to cover "Happy Together" include Mel Torme, The Ventures, Hugo Montenegro,
    The Vogues, Buck Wild, Vikki Carr, Petula Clark, Melba Moore, Donny Osmond, David Cook, Percy Faith, Frank Zappa and Weezer.
  • 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, Carlin America publishing for all above.) >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Carlin America publishing for all above.
  • In 1989, this was used in a movie of the same name starring Helen Slater, Patrick Dempsey and Brad Pitt. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alec Thorp - Yorktown Heights, NY
  • This opens the 12 Monkeys episode "45 RPM" (2018) as Cassie prepares to time travel to the '70s to assassinate a villain.

Comments: 44

  • Alden Loveshade from UsaI must respectfully disagree on the "stalker" interpretation. For one thing, it doesn't fit the description of the song's composers, nor does it I think fit the actions of a stalker. I don't see any stalking behavior in the lyrics.

    And to me the "How is the weather" line is done as a contrast. In the person's mind and imagination, they and the person they like could make a wonderful, happy, loving couple. But they're too shy to say that. So instead, when a chance at actual conversation comes up, they talk about the weather.
  • Anonymous from PennsylvaniaI agree with Kim356. The song is actually very dark. The 'how is the weather' line is equivalent to saying 'what's the frequency, Kenneth?'. It is a non-sequitur statement from a very disturbed and disturbing individual.
  • Kim356 from Australia This song is the archetypal stalker, albeit immature, statement. At the time everyone just viewed it as a happy bubblegum pop tune. The insistent stabbing verse chords in relative minor are Norman Bates in his mum’s dress outside the shower curtain, then the elated major shift in the chorus as he pushes the car into the swamp. Pure bi-polar shifting sociopath. This guy was holding her picture in one hand. The censors of the day were worse off than Helen Keller. I love it!
  • Xuanya from Sacramento this song means so much to me
  • Ken from PhiladelphiaHoward Kaylan wrote a wonderful movie (and it actually got made!) about the time period around when “Happy Together” broke. It’s called “My Dinner with Jimi” and, fear not, as the name implies, it’s not really about The Turtles. It’s about everything else that was going on in the Spring of 1967, first in L.A. and, best of all, in London. The title gives away one big spoiler but so much was happening in late Spring 1967 London that an unknown Jimi Hendrix, literally days before Monterrey Pop would make him an icon, is, shockingly, not even close to the biggest thing going on here. In addition to the Turtles, you’ll meet Jim Morrison, Frank Zappa, and Mama Cass before the boys jet over to London where they smoke dope with Graham Nash and Donavan, hear some amazing music, then, courtesy of Nash (and with a polite and prescient warning from Donovan ringing in their ears), they go to the hippest club in the hippest city on the planet in 1967 where they meet, among others, Justin Hayward and John Lodge who were deeply engrossed in recording “Days of Future Passed” and just a wee bit full of themselves, newly ex-Rolling Stone Brian Jones who shows himself to be a good dude... if one who very much prefers to chase women over all other human endeavors..., the titular, minutes-before-worldwide-fame Jimi Hendrix who is chock full of jocular good advice and genuine peace and love, and, oh yeah, this little band you might have heard of, The Beatles, were there too. The title, of course, foreshadows the meeting with Jimi. The real denouement though... well aside from the rather abrupt end to the dinner with Jimi... is the meeting with the Beatles, who were themselves minutes away from outdoing everybody in the business yet again with the release of a record that was kinda, sorta, pretty decent, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It’s not overly deep, but it’s also not cheap slapstick (although Howard and Mark Volman’s trip to the draft board comes close). Best of all, by all accounts, it’s true or at least Howard Kaylan’s memory of the truth. Seriously, if you have time to kill... and I am typing this in the middle of the COVID -19 quarantine so most of you do literally have more free time than you know what to do with... and you loved the music of this era, you will have 90 minutes of a broad smile on your face while watching this. If I have any complaint, it’s that it was too short. I wanted more of their adventures.

    This is actually a fairly old movie, released in 2003, so I am not sure if all the streaming services even carry it. I do know that TUBI has it and, at least as of May 2020, it is COMPLETELY FREE. You can’t beat that price with a stick (and why would want to).

  • Anonymous from AzNow a cover of it by Gerard Way and Ray Toro is on the soundtrack of The Umbrella Academy : )
  • Dave from Modesto, CaMy tape had this song on it and when the announcer introduced it he said "happy? I'm a static." Now l think about that every time l hear that song
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaWOW I never knew two of the guys played for the Coasters. I knew they played in a surf band, believe it was Baja but not sure.
  • Anita from MontagueI remember hearing Happy Together by the Turtles on the radio in New York City New Year's Eve 12/31/1966. My boyfriend was driving us into the city . This was our song.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 1st 1967, the Turtles performed "Happy Together" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was in its second of three weeks at #1 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    {See the second post below}.
  • Sierra from Alex Bay, NyThis song was written about my aunt. The guy who wrote the lyrics was trying to get back with her and he kept calling her from the drive-in down the road using a pay phone but she kept hanging up on him (the line "if I should call you up, invest a dime") My mom and my aunt shared a room when this was going on and my mom said she remembers my aunt turning him down and hanging up on him. He later sold the song to The Turtles.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 14th 1967, the Turtles performed "Happy Together" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Three months earlier on February 5th, 1967 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79; and on March 19th, 1967 it peaked at #1 (for 3 weeks) and spent 15 weeks on the chart (and for 9 of those 15 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And after spending 3 weeks at #1, it stayed at #2 for two weeks...
    The 3 weeks it was at #1, the #2 record was "Dedicated To The One I Love" by the Mamas and the Papas, and it never did reached the top spot...
    On the same 'Sullivan' show the Turtles also performed "She'd Rather Be With Me"; it was their follow-up to "Happy Together" and peaked at #3 (for 2 weeks) on the Top 100...
    The group had three other songs make the Top 10; "It Ain't Me Babe (#8 in 1965), "Elenore" (#6 in 1968), and "You Showed Me" (#6 in 1969)...
    Their 17th and last charted record was a covered version of Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction"; it stayed at on the Top 100 for 2 weeks at position #100.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 4th 1980, the Captain & Tennille's covered version the Turtles' "Happy Together" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #85; eventually it peaked at #53 and spent 6 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #27 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Between 1975 and 1980 the husband & wife duo had fourteen Top 100 records; half of them, seven, making the Top 10 and two reached #1; "Love Will Keep Us Together" (for 4 weeks in 1975) and "Do That To Me One more Time" (for 1 week in 1980).
  • David from Orange, CaWith 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?
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaIt 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.
  • Camille from Toronto, Ohbuh, 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.
  • Aunt Flo from Statin Island, NyGarry Bonner's original demo of this song is phenomenal!
  • Aunt Flo from Statin Island, NyTo Bill in southeastern part of Fl...Teaneck, NJ is correct but not a baker.
  • Aunt Flo from Statin Island, Nyin 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)?"
  • Michael from Kissimmee, FlThe 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....
  • Dave from Cullman, AlAs 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!
  • Lisa from Milwaukee, Wi, WiJena - what are you smoking? Richard from Taladega, sweet story! Great song
  • Jeremy from Columbus, GeorgiaI love the Flobots version
  • Lester from New York City, NyOn 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'.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaOne 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!
  • Liam from Windsor, CaDon'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.
  • Richard from Talladega, AlI 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!)
  • Musicmama from New York, NyVolman and Kaylan with Frank Zappa...What a thought!
  • Abby from Forest Hills, NyThe Turtles evolved The Crossfires.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThe best thing about this song was Frank Zappa's parody of it.
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlGreat Song . It's been in a million movies and commercials it seems like.
  • Ed from Houston, TxThis song is an index to my memories of 1967.
    A key to unlock memories.
  • Spencer from Los Angeles, CaI love this song...to bad nobody knows any of the other Turtles hits. :-P
  • Buzz from HamiltonBill from FL- What a ridiculous idea!!!!!!!! I love this song
  • James from Vidalia, Ga(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.
  • Steve from Salt Lake City, UtIn 1962 The guys are beginning High school & just starting a band that by 1967 would be in the middle of a faaar out trip !
  • Rod from Worcester, MaHappy 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.
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesDuring 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.
  • Bill from Southeastern Part Of, FlSomeone told me this song was written by a baker in Teaneck, New Jersey. I guess not.
  • Scott from Port Jefferson, NyAmong 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
  • Jena from Bonner Springs, KsThe beginning of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" HAD to be inspired (or ripped off) from this song!!
  • Matt from Charleston, ScThe 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"!
  • Tiffany from Dover, FlSpeaking of the bottom comment, I heard this in N64's Super Smash Bros. ad and it was funny!
  • Randell from Mounds, OkNew Found Glory recorded their own version of this song calling it "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"
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