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They Showed Us… Something

It’s hard to tell from such a woolly, potato-cam video, but for a while, you might think The Turtles were actually performing You Showed Me live in that video. The guitar and bass have cords trailing off somewhere. They might be plugged into something. If the drummer isn’t really playing, he certainly remembers the drum part from the record exactly. I didn’t spot any misalignments. You have to wait for the outro for your definitive clue, Watson. The drummer loses interest and stands up while the song is still fading out.

It’s not an unusual question to ask. It was quite common back in the day for bands to appear on teevee shows of all kinds and mime their hits. It was part of the little personality cults bands have used as a substitute for talent for the last 75 years or so. Of course the Turtles had all sorts of talent, but they’d be lumped in with all the other acts in the 60s in the producer’s schedule. They wouldn’t have had any trouble performing it live, and probably would have brought something new to the table. That’s another reason the teevee producers would have them lip sync. Anything could break out on stage with these weirdos. Mark Volman is wearing chaps for some reason. Can’t chance it.

According to the ToYoube comments, the girls arrayed on stage are Miss Teen USA contestants. That looks quite believable. They’re well equipped with late sixties togs, and rocking the requisite bumpits and water buffalo hairdos. They don’t flinch when the camera focuses right on their faces. It’s a mark of the breed. One commenter claimed to have married one of them. Well, internet commenters are always like that. Informative, and married to beauty queens, who adore them for their Congressional Medals of Honor.

If you’re young, and you’ve tuned in to get an explanation of what the Turtles were up to back then, you’ve come to the wrong place. Absolutely uncategorizable.

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. 

Tag: the turtles

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