My Happy Fit

~~ Fair warning, no wind instruments in this song ~~

I don’t go for brass music—horns, trumpets, trombones, and, god forbid, tubas. Saxophones are cool, I like that sound, but all the rest? Keep ‘em. they annoy the hell out of me.

Every summer, Gettysburg hosts a brass music festival. For a week, everywhere you turn, brass bands bray. In the center square, on the library steps, in the open green fields of the college campus, patriotic hymns and Sousa marches. My in-laws love these. Year after year I find myself in the audience.

Every winter, it’s Tuba-Fest. Thirty tuba players oom-pah out sloppy Christmas tunes—again in the town square. As a parent of young children in Gettysburg, this is a mandatory event. Everyone jams the sidewalk in front of the Historic Gettysburg Hotel, careful not to step into the street because no one has the foresight to divert traffic. The tuba players crowd on the hotel porch, surrounded by a quaint wooden railing reminiscent of an 1860s inn. The Daughters of the American Revolution pass out cups of hot cocoa to the kids in the crowd. The last time we attended, we worked our way to the front of the hot chocolate line and were treated to scalding cups of burnt milk. My Tuba-Fest problem forever solved, my kids harbor bad memories to this day.

This week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt is a long one:

Songs that feature wind instruments which include Brass instruments (horns, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, and tubas) and Woodwind instruments (recorders, flutes, oboes, clarinets, saxophones, and bassoons).

I can’t do it.

Rock songs? I can think of a few reggae songs I like that feature horns, but I have nothing to say about any of them. And woodwinds simply don’t belong in rock music. It’s an abomination. Is a saxophone a woodwind? It has a reed, but it looks like a horn. Maybe it’s both. I love the sax solo in Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, but this is Halloween. Still three weeks too early for that song.

Last weekend, I went to a rock concert at the Ottobar in Baltimore. In my twenties and thirties, I would have said I went to a show. But now I’m pushing sixty. A show is something you see on Broadway. Live music in a bar, that’s a rock concert. A couple of years ago, my daughter Sophie discovered a new band, the Happy Fits. Susan was instantly hooked. Every time I walked into the kitchen I heard her saying “Alexa, play the Happy Fits.”

How do I like them? Before the show, I would have said they’re fine. Not hard to listen to but not so memorable either. Not exactly a compelling reason to drive an hour and a half to Baltimore on a Sunday night. But Susan wanted to go, and after a bit of thought, Eli did too. I went along for the ride.

The last time I saw a concert like this was 2002. Sophie was just born. Still living in Washington, DC, I went with two friends to the 9:30 Club to see Sonic Youth. I didn’t intentionally stop seeing shows after that. We had a baby at home. Baby sitters are expensive, especially when you have no control over what time the band starts playing. I just never got around to going again. Three years later, I moved away from DC. Alternative acts don’t visit Gettysburg. Live music became a thing of my past.

So here I am again, breaking the rules. No woodwinds or brass here. Just a guitar, drums and an amplified cello. Since this trio includes an orchestral instrument, I figure close enough. A cello in a rock band? Take my word for it, this is brilliant. Plunking away on the low strings easily matches any benefits a base guitar offers. And the instrument is always ready to provide a rich, sonorous melody, or a background resonating hum. To me, it sounded like they had five instruments pounding away on that stage.

The tour, their first tour since the pandemic, started that night in Baltimore. For the past eighteen months, the Happy Fits performed all their live shows to a video camera in a home studio. Their elation at performing before a live audience was obvious beginning to end. Near the start of the show, Calvin, the cellist, broke into giggles, he was so excited.  

For the most part, the band hammered away bordering on a poppy-punk sound. A pleasant surprise for me. Even their slower or poppier songs broke out into some raucous thrashing every now and then. For their finale they played their popular song Grow Back. I’ve heard this song at least a dozen times in my kitchen or driving in the car with Susan or Sophie, but it never caught my attention like last Sunday night. The musicians were electrified, bouncing all over the stage. During the chorus, they bent over banging their heads in the air and tossing their preppy haircuts like a clean-cut grunge act from Yale.

When they finished the song, Susan, Eli and I were stunned. Finally, I said “Wow, I really feel privileged to have just seen that.” The last twenty years notwithstanding, I’ve seen a ton of concerts and shows in my life, and this one was easily in the top five. Possibly top two, second only to Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

I hope you like Grow Back. Compared to the live version I saw, the studio video doesn’t do the song the justice it deserves, but hopefully you’ll get a taste of this up-and-coming band. Strangely, the cello only appears for a few seconds in the video. Seems like an opportunity lost. It’s easily the most interesting part of the band.

Grow Back by the Happy Fits

Silly, silly Mrs. Mae; she’s got herself into trouble
Ten screws, they’re never coming loose;
they’re running up and down the table
But she feels good, never upset; she’s always been ill but able
She can run whenever she wants and everyone knows she will
How she’d never cut her hair;

A smooth, silky lightning in the incandescent air
She’s a cool, crazy killer, Mrs. Mae
What they don’t understand is that she’s almost already dead!

Let it grow back X 7
Let it grow

Let it into the dark!
Let it into the dark!
Let it into the dark!

(I can tell whose fault it’s gonna be)
Tinted walls in a shuddered sprawl and a sight too plain to see
If you keep moving, you’ll get it back
And no one’s gonna take you away
If you feel good, tell ’em quick
And no one’s gonna take you, no one’s gonna take you!

Silly, silly Mrs. Mae; she’s got herself into trouble
Ten men, emergencies at hand, they’ve run and got the jumper cables
But she feels good, never upset; she’s always been ill but able
She can run whenever she wants and everyone knows she will
How she’d never cut her hair
Smooth as silky lightning in the incandescent air
She’s a cool, crazy killer, Mrs. Mae
What they don’t understand is that
She’s got a pair of scissors in her pocket and she’s really gonna cut it
so they better run or else they’re gonna get it!

Let it grow back X 7
Let it grow

Let it into the dark!
Let it into the dark!
Let it into the dark!

(I can tell whose fault it’s gonna be)
Tinted walls in a shuddered sprawl and a sight too plain to see
If you keep moving, you’ll get it back
And no one’s gonna take you away
If you feel good, tell ’em quick
And no one’s gonna take you, no one’s gonna take you!

I can tell whose fault it’s gonna be
Tinted walls in a shuddered sprawl and a sight too plain to see
If you keep moving, you’ll get it back
And no one’s gonna take you away
If you feel good, tell ’em quick
And no one’s gonna take you, no one’s gonna take you!

(Let it into the dark!)
I can tell whose fault it’s gonna be
(Let it into the dark!)
Tinted walls in a shuddered sprawl and a sight too plain to see
(Let it into the dark!)
If you keep moving, you’ll get it back
And no one’s gonna take you away
(Let it into the dark!)
If you feel good, tell ’em quick
And no one’s gonna take you, no one’s gonna take you!

18 thoughts on “My Happy Fit

  1. that was a great song, and I can see how the band would just explode on stage while playing it. The cello does add a special touch.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the concert so much; I can’t wait to get back to seeing some live music as well.

    and as for the prompt, there’s nothing like listening to Clarence jamming on his sax while on stage with Bruce…
    t

    Liked by 2 people

    • Right, of course Clarence crossed my mind. I went to a Clinton inaugural party where the entertainment was Clarence’s band. Clinton got up on stage and played the sax in the middle of a song. I thought about writing about that, but I know so little about Clarence Clemons.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ooh! I like it. I just went and listened to the Happy Fits top five songs on Spotify and it sent me down a rabbit hole of the past, trying to find and remember the bands I used to listen to that sound so similar to this. The best I could do (for now, because this is fun) was Two Door Cinema Club at the more pop-end, and Foals at the more rock-end. I played Grow Back for my partner and he said it sounds like Arcade Fire and that seemed to be right on the nose. Maybe you’d like them as well? Anyway, good find, and that’s great you got to go enjoy the concert. I’ve yet to experience a concert post-pandemic but I expect it will be epic when I finally do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know any of those bands. I’ll need to check them out. Even though the music was great, the thing I loved most about the show was how much fun the band was having. No jaded rock & rollers here, They gave 110%.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You seem to be determined to go against the grain Jeff. To me Jethro Tull’s ‘Locomotive Breath’ is a rock song. What about Clarence Clemons playing with Bruce Springsteen, that was surely rock. Nice music, but disappointing.

    Like

    • I do like bluegrass. The pizza joint I worked at all through high school had a blue grass band on Saturday nights. Forever hooked. Yeah, These guys are unbelievably young. They make my 19 y.o. daughter look like a wizened adult.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cool new music! I love finding up and coming bands… now I’m thinking I should’ve used a song by The Interrupters. They’re a newish Ska band. Really good! “She’s Kerosene” is a popular one.

    I’m glad you made it to a show. Concerts are the only “public” thing I really enjoy, and I miss them when it’s been a while. It’s great when the energy flow is strong between the performers and the audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely a cool sound. Sounds like a neat experience too. I was going to say ska too. One of my favorite Mighty Mighty Bosstones songs “Where’d you go?” has a lot of hornage in it. It’s fun making up new words 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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