With the autumn of 1968, Beatlemania reached a new blazing height with the release of the double-sided 45 single “Hey Jude” and “Revolution,” the televised videotape of a live performance of “Hey Jude” on the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour, and the slice by slice dishing out of new treats by the radio stations from the soon to be released White Album. One Sunday evening in November, like lightning from a clear sky, the song “Elenore” materialized out of radio speakers all over the country and, like many others listening (not too closely obviously), for several heady minutes the Beatles of old, of 1964, were suddenly back. Never mind that the lead singer (Howard Kaylan) didn’t sound anything like Lennon, McCartney, or Harrison — that glorious chorus had all the hallmark joy and awe of a true Beatles classic.
Of course, it was not The Beatles at all, as it turned out, but The Turtles. And that turned out to be just as great a revelation! “Happy Together” had been the group’s signature hit in 1967; now they were back with a stirring love song in the midst of a year marked by war, assassination, inter-generational discord, and at times violent revolution. The message was simple enough: guy falls for girl, guy asks girl out on a date, guy declares his undying love. The chorus leaves no doubt as to the outcome. There is no ambiguity or heartbreak to be found in “Elenore” … this is one song that indeed ends happily ever after.