Before the Turtles, the Byrds: "You Showed Me"

One of the sweetest ballads recorded by the Turtles was the dreamy 1968 hit “You Showed Me.” The track was part of “The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands,” a concept album on which the group poked fun at many musical genres by pretending to be a different band for each track; “Nature’s Children” was the “band” that contributed “You Showed Me.”

Along with “You Showed Me,” “Battle of the Bands” yielded the hit “Elenore.” Lead singer Howard Kaylan told Altsounds that he was surprised that the album, which has become a cult classic, was not better received.
“Battle of the Bands” was our “Sergeant Pepper.” It was actually a wonderful idea and it still bugs me, all these years later, that it was under-appreciated by the music critics upon its release, despite yielding two top ten records. We performed in the styles of all these different bands and took costumed photographs of each group—quite the concept, but some people, like Rolling Stone at the time, thought that we were trying to rip off the Mothers of Invention for some reason. Baffling. I was happy with it then, and I still think it's the strongest stand-alone album that the band ever recorded.
Richie Unterberger describes what made the Turtles' hit so addictive.
The Turtles bought their habitual gorgeous harmonies to the recording, which ultimately resulted in a single that was pretty irresistible…

"You Showed Me" benefits from an ultra-catchy bittersweet romantic melody, the kind that makes the sensitive swoon… it masterfully blends major and minor chords in unexpected progressions. In addition to the swooping strings, the Turtles' arrangement is highlighted by an unusual spooky pump organ. The unusual touches do a lot to leaven the lovey-dovey lyrics, which might have come off as too sappy given a more straightforward backing.  
“You Showed Me” was written by Gene Clark and Roger McGuinn in 1964 before the two, with David Crosby, would co-found the Byrds. The song might never have surfaced had bassist Chip Douglas not recalled the tune the trio, then known as the Jet Set, used to play at the Troubadour. Douglas told Chris Hollow that the Los Angeles club was a hangout for folkies like him and McGuinn.
McGuinn was one of the first people I met when I went to Los Angeles in December of '62. He was a folk singer around town. So it was just a clique of musicians that all knew each other. There wasn't a whole lot of them but they were always at the Troubadour and that's where we got to know each other in the Troubadour bar. Like I say one by one they began to get with happening groups and then disappear on the road but that was the gathering place, the Troubadour bar on Monday nights which was a Hoot night and all these different people would perform. I watched Crosby, McGuinn and Gene Clark get it together to be the Byrds. They had formed a trio and were singing Beatle songs and stuff in the Troubadour bar on a Monday night. They'd have a few beers, grab a guitar and be sitting around in a corner there working on songs. Most notable I can remember was a thing called “You Showed Me”…
In late 1964, manager Jim Dickson brought the Byrds, now joined by guitarist Chris Hillman and drummer Michael Clarke, to World Pacific Sound where the group honed their sound. Two demos of “You Showed Me” were recorded, which eventually surfaced on compilation albums: an acoustic version on 1969’s “Preflyte” and a more up-tempo electric take on 1989’s “In the Beginning.” But by the time the Byrds’ released their June 1965 debut album, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” the group had abandoned “You Showed Me.”

Gene Clark left the Byrds in 1966 to form the Gene Clark Group, where he was joined by his former Troubadour pal Chip Douglas. Clark’s group performed “You Showed Me,” which Douglas says he remembered when he moved on to produce the Turtles and needed a song for “Battle of the Bands.”
I contacted Eddie Tickner, who was Gene's manager at the time, and asked him if there were demos of Gene in the office. I had sort of lost touch with Gene, he was doing other things and we didn't hang out anymore. I got that tape because I was with the Turtles at the time and I wanted to see if I could use a couple of songs that I liked when I was in the Gene Clark Group. I was looking for a song in particular called “Madeleine” but it wasn't on the tape.
But the demo of “You Showed Me” was on the tape, which allowed Douglas to learn the words to the song. Kaylan told Bradley Mason Hamlin that the song was never intended to be a ballad.
We perform "You Showed Me" at every concert—it was one of our biggest hits, although it was never intended, by its writers, to be a ballad at all. Our producer at the time, Chip Douglas, brought us the song for the "Battle of the Bands" album and it was up-tempo and really early Beatles-sounding... very Merseybeat. Only Chip's pump organ was broken—one of its two bellows was out—so Chip had to play the song for us at half-speed. And we loved it. And we told him we wanted to record it as a love song. And he thought we were nuts. But, once again, we were spoiled brats and got our way. And I'm still grateful. "You Showed Me" still proves itself to be the prettiest love song we ever recorded…

 

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