My Top 1000 Songs #625: I Saw Her Again

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

The Mamas And The Papas followed a similar trajectory as the Beach Boys for me. I heard them a lot in my childhood--their greatest hits collection was one of the few records in my parents' small assortment of mostly terrible 8-track tapes I kinda liked--and then, upon discovering rock music in my pre-teen years, I dismissed them as too lame and uncool. But once I reached my twenties or thirties--not long after I came around to the vocal genius of Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds--I gave them another shot. And, like the Beach Boys--holy shit, those vocals! For lovers of harmonies (hello!), they've rarely been topped.

While they had a fistful of great singles, and songs like "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday" are the better-known staples, it's "I Saw Her Again" that's been living rent-free in my head for more than 50 years. Something about the unbelievable harmonic hook when they hit the "And it makes me feel so good to know" line... jesus, I can't even describe it, but that snippet crops up in my mind constantly, year after year.

And then you've got the famous mistake--the part where the chorus accidentally comes in too soon after the bridge (at about 2:40 into the tune), a brief "I saw her..." before realizing it was two bars early. They decided to leave it in the song and it's just brilliant, a flaw so perfect that, according to legend, Paul McCartney vociferously argued it could not possibly have been unintended.

It's great how lovers of pop vocal harmonies have come to canonize Pet Sounds over the years, but it's a major omission not to give the Mamas and Papas, and especially this track, their due.

The video:
Kinda crazy (well, maybe not) that the song hasn't really been covered, at least on any records I know about; but here's a lovely version I found on YouTube featuring a band called Port Cities: