The 1967 song ‘Happy Together’ has been placed in the same league as The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Mrs. Robinson’ by Simon and Garfunkel. It was named one of the Top 50 songs of the 20th Century by Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), one of five United States performing rights organizations.
And to think it was rejected a dozen times before The Turtles picked it up! In the book Inside The Hits, author Wayne Wadhams mentions that songwriters, Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon (former members of a band called The Magicians) pitched the song to many bands, including The Tokens, The Happenings and The Vogue. Garry and Alan played a worn out acetate of their demo of the song to The Turtles between the sets of a Manhattan gig. The Turtles tried it on stage and recorded it two weeks later. This was in January, 1967. And in March that year, the song reached No.1 in the charts!
Here’s the song!
The song is so popular that it has been used in numerous films and TV series. It has also been notably used in many advertisements.
Like this Golden Grahams cereal ad.
Or this absolutely bizarre and over-the-top ad for Toyota RAV4.
The song has an interesting Indian connection. It has been ‘used’ not once, but twice, and that too, both in Tamil!
The first version was by composing duo Shankar-Ganesh, for the 1983 film, En Aasai Unnoduthan. The song, ‘Devi Koondhalo’, sung by Vani Jairam and K.J.Yesudas, was a smash hit in the early 80s in Tamil Nadu and received wide radio play. It was an unabashed cover version of the Turtles’ hit.
1n 1991, singer S.P.Balasubrahmanyam not only starred in the film Sigaram, but also composed music for it (one of the few films he scored music for). One of the songs, Muthamma Ennai, sung by S.N.Surendar and S.P.Sailaja was another riff on the Turtles hit song.
The fascinating aspect is that Shankar-Ganesh and S.P.Balasubrahmanyam used only the mukhda (pallavi) from Turtles’ original and created completely different antaras (anupallavi) to suit their cover versions.