"Happy Together"
Picture sleeve for the US single
Single by The Turtles
from the album Happy Together
B-side"Like the Seasons"
ReleasedFebruary 1967 (February 1967)
Genre
Length2:50
LabelWhite Whale
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
The Turtles singles chronology
"Can I Get to Know You Better"
(1966)
"Happy Together"
(1967)
"She'd Rather Be with Me"
(1967)

"Happy Together" is a song by American rock band the Turtles from their third studio album Happy Together (1967). The song was written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, arranged by Chip Douglas, and produced by Joe Wissert.

Released as a single in February 1967, the song knocked the Beatles' "Penny Lane" out of the number one slot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remained atop the chart for three weeks.[4] It was the group's only chart-topper in the United States. "Happy Together" also reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart in April 1967 and number 2 on the Canadian Top Singles chart in Canada.

Background

The song was written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, former members of the Magicians.[4] It had been rejected a dozen times before it was offered to the Turtles, and the demo acetate was worn out.[5]

The song was arranged by Chip Douglas. Turtles singer Mark Volman said, "Chip was, besides being a really fine bass player and excellent singer, also a great arranger, who did most of the arrangements on 'Happy Together.' He is very instrumental in what would be thought of as the production."[6]

The song features a brass section, plus a mellotron, impersonating an oboe, strings, and vocals.

Composition

"Happy Together" was originally published in the key of F♯ minor[7] in common time with a tempo of 120 beats per minute. Kaylan's vocals span from C#3 to G#4 in the song.[8][9][10]

Critical reception

Billboard described "Happy Together" as a "groovy folk- oriented item" that could repeat the chart success of the Turtles' earlier hit single "It Ain't Me, Babe."[11] Denise Sullivan of AllMusic called the song "serious, Beatles/Beach Boys conceptual pop" with a "sparse, acoustic guitar and handclap arrangement". She felt that the Turtles had combined their "pop, folk, psychedelia, and Zombies-style harmony expertise into one song", and noted the song's contradiction of being a "rock & roll song with a martial beat" but which came very close to "bubblegum" pop (yet "rises above it"). She concluded that the song is "pop perfection" and "a most sublime slice of pop heaven."[12]

Personnel

The Turtles

Additional musicians

It is unclear which of the keyboards (piano,[23] organ[21] and Mellotron[24]) are played by Kaylan, Nichol or Cahan.

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[37] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Cover versions

"Happy Together" has been covered by artists as diverse as Hugo Montenegro (US AC #29, 1969), Tony Orlando and Dawn (US #79, 1972), T.G. Sheppard (who would take his version into the country Top 10 in early 1979), the Nylons (US #75, AC #16, 1987),[38] and the most successful cover by Captain & Tennille (US #53, AC #27, 1980),[39][38] Jason Donovan had the most successful cover version in the UK reaching #10.

Non-charting versions include those by Mel Tormé,[38] the Piano Guys, Weezer, Petula Clark and Donny Osmond.[citation needed]

Frank Alamo covered the song in 1967 in a French version entitled "Heureux Tous Les Deux (Happy Together)". In 1967 the song was also covered in Serbo-Croatian, entitled "Srećni zajedno", by Yugoslav all-female band Sanjalice.[40] In 1999, BMI named "Happy Together", with approximately five million performances on American radio, the 44th most-performed song in the United States of the 20th century,[41] placing it in the same league as "Yesterday" by the Beatles and "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel.

Frank Zappa's performance on the "Fillmore East – June 1971" album included Turtles vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman and bassist Jim Pons, as they were all members of Zappa's band The Mothers during that time period.

Norwegian comedy group Prima Vera recorded a version with altered lyrics titled "Så Lykkelig I Sverige" (So Happy in Sweden) from their album Brakara (1978).[42]

Hugo Montenegro's cover version was released as a single in 1969 from his album Good Vibrations,[43] and reached number 29 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.[44][45]

The song has been covered by B. E. Taylor for his album, Love Never Fails (2006).[46]

Industrial rock band Filter covered the song for The Stepfather soundtrack in 2009.[47]

In 2002 and 2018, American rock band Weezer performed a cover version of the song live at several of their concerts. The cover was described by Doug MacCash of The Times-Picayune as "fierce yet faithful", taking "that chunk of 50-year-old bubblegum and chew[ing] it into grungy rock n roll glory".[48] In January 2019, the song was included on their surprise cover album.[49][50]

In 2020, EDM producers Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Bassjackers released a big room cover of the song.[51]

In popular culture

This section appears to contain trivial, minor, or unrelated references to popular culture. Please reorganize this content to explain the subject's impact on popular culture, providing citations to reliable, secondary sources, rather than simply listing appearances. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2018)
The Turtles performing "Happy Together" on The Ed Sullivan Show, May 14, 1967.
The Turtles performing "Happy Together" on The Ed Sullivan Show, May 14, 1967.

Jim Bessman reported for Billboard that the "key usage in the acclaimed movie" Adaptation. is "as a means of juxtaposing a soundtrack song against the story's mood, à la 'As Time Goes By' in Casablanca". Bessman goes on to say that "the song's inclusion in Adaptation has also spurred the solo side of Kaylan's career."[38]

When I saw the film, the audience started singing along with it ... It indicated to me that this thing had a life of its own—and that it was time for me to get off my butt and finish my solo album.

The 1987 film "Making Mr. Right" uses a unique remix of the Turtles recording (extended by 11 seconds in the opening build-up) as the movie's rousing finale. This extended version does not appear in the film's official soundtrack album, only in the film itself.[52]

A cover version sung by Danny Chung appears at the end of Wong Kar-wai's 1997 film, Happy Together.

Bessman also notes the use of the song in Freaky Friday (2003; featured both the Turtles version and a cover by Simple Plan[original research?]) and two episodes of The Simpsons ("The Way We Weren't" and "Trilogy of Error"[original research?]).[38] It was also featured in several television series, including Big Bang Theory in the episode "The Collaboration Fluctuation", King of the Hill for the episode "It Ain't Over Till The Fat Neighbor Sings" and in an episode of Two and a Half Men.

It was performed on the show American Idol on February 19, 2008, by David Cook, and on February 20, 2008, by Brooke White: both performances were released as live singles on the iTunes Store in 2008. On May 5, 2011, it was sung in a group performance by the top 5 contestants on the show's tenth season. On January 21, 2015, the song was featured on the TV series Stalker arranged and performed by the band SPiN.[53]

The song was also featured in several animated films, including The Simpsons Movie and Minions. The song was featured in the first trailer for the 2019 film, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.[54][55] It was featured again that same year in the soundtrack of the 2019 film, The Angry Birds Movie 2.

In Stephen King's novel Gerald's Game, the psychotic burglar, necrophile, and cannibal Raymond Andrew Joubert is described to the protagonist Jessie Burlingame as singing this song in the back of a police cruiser after being apprehended breaking into a mausoleum.[56]

It was also used for a commercial for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64, the first in the series released in 1999.[57]

In July 2019, the song was used in juxtaposition to the "guns and murder" in a trailer for the game Borderlands 3.[58]

The Melbourne City Football Club also use Happy Together as their pre-kick-off song.[59]

Copyright lawsuit

Flo & Eddie, legal successors to the Turtles, filed a lawsuit in the New York Court of Appeals against Sirius XM Radio to establish common law copyright on their original recording of "Happy Together". As the song was recorded in 1967, five years before federal sound copyright was established, the group sought to establish that such recordings were covered under common law copyright, a nebulous form of copyright held at the state level, in the hopes of earning royalties from Sirius XM (as they did not write the song, they could only receive performance royalties). The Court of Appeals had previously ruled that such a common law copyright may exist for the sale of recordings in New York in the 2005 ruling Capitol Records, Inc. v. Naxos of America, Inc..

On December 20, 2016, the Court ruled that no such common law copyright exists in New York for public performances of a sound recording, and that Flo & Eddie could not claim royalties.[60]

On March 20, 2016, Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro released their single "Wolves of Winter", which originally featured the lyric "we have the chance to be happy together" in the pre-chorus, sung in a similar manner to the Turtles' recording. However, the lyric was changed due to copyright infringement, becoming "we have the chance to survive the winter", as sung in the second pre-chorus.[61]

References

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