Elenore, Gee I Think You’re Swell

Effervescent music and witty lyrics and young love—how can it miss? The Turtles’ Elenore never made it onto my radar when I was younger. Perhaps I wouldn’t have appreciated it.

Witty rhymes like

Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me

or this bit about going to a movie:

They’ll turn the lights way down low
and maybe we won’t watch the show

sound skewed, coming from the guys who gave us Happy Together. Skewed for 1968.

In fact, they were skewed intentionally. Howard Kaylan, writing a no-love letter to their record company, put together a grab bag of twisted cliches and words that never belonged in a pop song. It was intended as a parody of Happy Together which backfired delightfully.

Who can forget the timeless romance of the line You’re my pride and joy, et cet’ra ?

And after each verse, sung by Kaylan, bass and drums lead the band through BAWM bawm bum bum and 93 voices and some church bells ring out the delicious delirious chorus, beginning

Elenore, gee I think you’re

swell

I think it’s swell.

(In one of the strangest musical connections ever, Kaylan and his partner Mark Volman, performing as Flo and Eddie for legal reasons, joined The Mothers of Invention and sang with Frank Zappa. I have long dreamt of the son of Orange County’s cover of Elenore in the style of something like St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast.)

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