Sugar, Sugar

Listen to Sugar, Sugar on my Songs page.

Songwriting

  • Words and Music: Jeff Barry and Andy Kim.

Performance

  • Vocals: Scott Woodman, Ttïmm Roy, Dale Emery, and John Gagne.
  • Guitar: Dale.
  • Keyboard: John.
  • Bass: Ttïmm.
  • Drums: Scott.

The Story. One day in 1982 or so, John Gagne came to Ttïmm's house (where I was also living) for a visit. Ttïmm popped a tape of our latest recording, "King of Time," into the stereo. John burst out laughing every time he heard "If you want to be the king, then you'll have to bash me right out of time."

That inspired John, so we retired to the music room to play some tunes. Though John is a damned good guitar player, he was fatally attracted to this cheesy keyboard that Ttïmm or I had bought. He turned it on and started playing what I suspect is one of the only songs he knows how to play on keyboards: "Sugar, Sugar," by the 1960s supergroup The Archies.

I grabbed my guitar and Ttïmm grabbed a bass, and we started playing along. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Scott dropped by and joined in on drums. Someone said, "Hey, we oughtta record this."

John, realizing just a little too slowly the implications of what had just been said, turned for the door. "Gotta go!" Not so fast, fella! We bound his feet with baling wire, duct taped him to a chair in front of the cheesy keyboard, and rolled tape. John struggled to get free, but we'd used nasty kidnapper knots so that the more he struggled, the tighter the knots tightened. He found to his horror that the only way he could relax the knots was by playing "Sugar, Sugar."

We recorded the instruments all at once. Then we added two passes of vocals, with the four of us singing together on each.

We didn't remember all of the words, or all of the parts of the song. One key omission was the "I'm gonna make your life so sweet" part. But then again, we weren't copycats, dammit, we were song stylists! I'm sure you will agree that we made the song our own.

I fumbled the (three-chord!) guitar part a few times, playing a G chord where the careful listener would prefer an F, but John and Ttïmm more than made up for that with their bizarrely charming, charmingly bizzare keyboard and bass noodlings. I'm especially tickled by Ttïmm's descending bass riff right at the end of the song. Priceless!

We eventually let John go. And now, after 22 years, I'm immortalizing his magical, reluctant performance on my web site. John, you will never truly be free of that night.

Recording. Recorded circa 1982 on a TEAC four-track stereo reel-to-reel.

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