The Who – Happy Jack

It took me a few listens to warm up to this song…after that, I’ve been hooked. Roger Daltrey on Happy Jack. “I remember when I first heard ‘Happy Jack’, I thought, ‘What the f–k do I do with this? It’s like a German oompah song!’ I had a picture in my head that this was the kind of song that Burl Ives would sing, so ‘Happy Jack’ was my imitation of Burl Ives!”

The song peaked at #24 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in the UK in 1967.

 

From Songfacts

Pete Townshend based the “Happy Jack” character on the strange and not-too-intelligent guys who used to hang around English beaches and play with the kids. Townshend would play on the Isle Of Man beach as a kid.

This was featured on The Who’s second album, A Quick One. In the US, the album title was changed to “Happy Jack” due to record company fears that the original title was a reference to sex.

In 1966 The Who were slotted to film a television series in much the same vein as the Monkees series. For the pilot episode, the band filmed a clip to go along with this song. It featured the 4 of them as robbers attempting to rob a safe. They get distracted, however, by a cake sitting close by and wackiness ensues as The Who smear themselves from head to foot with frosting. Finally a cop busts in and foils their plan, chasing them out of the room. The show never aired, but the clip can now be found in the Kids Are Alright DVD. The clip is light years ahead of its time for what other bands of the ’60s were doing.

A live version can be found on the expanded Live at Leeds album.

At the tail end of the song, you can hear Townshend yelling the phrase “I saw yer!” to Who drummer Keith Moon. Apparently, Moon had been banished from the studio and was trying to sneak back in. 

This song was used in an ad campaign for the Hummer H2 in 2004. The commercial featured a boy in a wooden car rolling straight down a hill to win a soap box derby instead of taking the winding road down like everyone else. 

Happy Jack

Happy Jack wasn’t old, but he was a man
He lived in the sand at the Isle of Man
The kids would all sing, he would take the wrong key
So they rode on his head on their furry donkey

The kids couldn’t hurt Jack
They tried and tried and tried
They dropped things on his back
And lied and lied and lied and lied and lied

But they couldn’t stop Jack, or the waters lapping
And they couldn’t prevent Jack from feeling happy

But they couldn’t stop Jack, or the waters lapping
And they couldn’t prevent Jack from feeling happy

The kids couldn’t hurt Jack
They tried and tried and tried
They dropped things on his back
And lied and lied and lied and lied and lied

But they couldn’t stop Jack, or the waters lapping
And they couldn’t prevent Jack from feeling happy

I saw ya!

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

20 thoughts on “The Who – Happy Jack”

      1. Entwistle was loud period. Yes all of those 60s guys made the technology of today in a lot of ways…or influenced it…The Beatles Paperback writer…they tried things with the bass and changed recording bass forever. They used a giant speaker as a microphone…they rewired it as a microphone

        Like

      1. I’ve always liked the Who…second only to the Beatles…they were so much fun…songs like this and Won’t Get Fooled Again…a big contrast

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard that recently on youtube when she was at the Kennedy center…it was great.
      I grew up in the 80s but I just relate to 60s and 70s music more…why I don’t know…

      BTW I love your posts on your blog…they are hilarious.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve always loved Happy Jack. It might be due to the video. When I hear the song I start picturing Keith with that mischievous smile. Until I read Roger’s book, I didn’t know the band thought so little of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so different than what they usually did. I didn’t like the song the first time I heard it but the video was on “The Kids Are Alright” and after a few times I became hooked on it.

      Liked by 1 person

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