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Friday, January 02, 2015

The Most Subversive Band I Ever Heard


No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live.  Mark Twain

When you get right down to it, I'm kind of a little sh*t. A coward, too. But I've always been a brave sort of coward. I appreciate cowardly courage when I see it.

I've never been one for a full frontal assault on anything. I believe in going around to the side door, jiggling the knob, and trying the window. There's always a pile of dead guys right in front of any machine gun nest. It's smarter to go around back and put a skunk in the pillbox than to charge right at it.

The Turtles were the ultimate example of a skunk thrown at a pillbox. They don't say they're trying to do anything but participate. They have an obvious affection for the music they're sorta kinda playing. Kinda. Sorta. They're delivering a funhouse version of a familiar thing. Everything about them is normal, but wrong a little. Bent a bit. When Howard Kaylan smiles at the camera, there's a pull my finger quality about it. He's a Cheshire Polecat. It's an in-joke that no one's in on. It's just as fun as the things they mimic, but it's taken to another level. It's the basement level, but still, it's another level.

I used to play pop music covers for a semi-living. We mostly played dreck, because pop music is 99 percent dreck, and I'm not sure what the other 1 percent is because I turned the radio off before it really got going. But somehow I loved it. I didn't care that it didn't cure cancer. I didn't care that it was stupid. People liked it, so I played it, and I pretended to like it so they could pretend to like me, too. But I can assure you that I liked every minute of playing Happy Together, and She'd Rather Be With Me, because it's way past pop music. It's both the carrot and the stick, ground up together and baked in a pie, served hot. 

7 comments:

Leslie said...

The Turtles are what we called, "band kids". They were a little off and bent and always having the best time. They were not cool, but, they didn't care. They didn't need anyone's approval. 35 years later, I still know those band kids. They are still a little off and still having a great time. I like them.

chasmatic said...

There is money to be made from playing that kind of music and lots of Holiday Inn lounges. Nehru jackets and pegged pants and Puerto Rican fence climber shoes; a white P-bass and a perpetual smile. Even Hendrix did it, see him next to the drummer, behind Buddy and Stacey.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2wBPix-nmg

Sam L. said...

Never saw them, never looked for them on YouTube. That yellow turtleneck with the tie--is it pined on, or woven onto?

walt reed said...

Loved the Turtles, but moved toward The Electric Prunes later on. I tend to Dream Too Much.

M*A said...

Volman and Kaylan went on to become Flo and Eddie and played with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Now that, was subversive.

RonF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonF said...

I say them do their "Flo and Eddie" bit with Frank. Pretty funny when Frank would be deep into one of this songs and all of a sudden they jumped into "So Happy Together".