November 27: The Turtles’ “Let Me Be” peaks at No. 29.

Songwriter P.F. Sloan pitched the Byrds his new composition “Eve of Destruction.” When they rejected it, Sloan pitched it to Byrds imitators the Tyrtles (later simply, Turtles) backstage at the Sunset Strip club the Crescendo (later the Trip). Singer Howard Kaylan recalled, “Our jaws hit the ground. We all knew that it would be a monster hit, it was that powerful. But we also knew that whoever recorded this song was doomed to have only one record in their/his career. You couldn’t make a statement like that and ever work again.”

So the Turtles made a passionate single out of Sloan’s “Let Me Be” instead, since, as Kaylan explained, it was “just the perfect level of rebellion … haircuts and nonconformity. That was as far as we were willing to go.”

A subgenre of protests songs rose up with lyrics directed not at a political problem but rather oppressive conformity itself. Both the Turtles’ “Let Me Be” and fellow L.A. band the Leaves’ “Too Many People” railed against a society trying to rearrange them. The Turtles’ triumphantly declared that they weren’t fools and wouldn’t be used as pawns for others’ selfish ends. The Animals roared that they’d think and do what they wanted in “It’s My Life.” The Beatles, too, advised to “Think For Yourself.” The Stones bellowed to “Get Off of My Cloud.” Both they and the Kinks had songs named “I’m Free.” Even Dean Martin’s son released “The Rebel Kind” with his band Dino, Desi and Billy. (Desi was the son of Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Lucille Ball.)

Categories: Contact

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s