Turtles – It Ain’t Me Babe

I first heard the Turtles with the single that I got from a cousin. The single was Eleanor… I fell for them at that moment. After I got to know them better…I found out they didn’t take themselves seriously and had some good pop songs.

This was written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan, who released the song on his 1964 album Another Side Of Bob Dylan. Smart performers started to pick up that this Bob guy could write accessible songs for the public. Add a Rickenbacker or a jangly guitar and whala you have folk rock.

The band was formed by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan. They were saxophone players who did whatever was trendy in order to make a living as musicians. They were also in the choir together in high school.

They were in an instrumental band but with the Beatles and the British invasion, they soon switched to a rock and roll band with Howard Kaylan as lead singer.

This was their debut single and what a single it was for them. It peaked at #8 on the Billboard 100 and #3 in Canada in 1965. It was on their debut album with the same name. The album didn’t do as well…it peaked at #98 on the Billboard Album Charts.


The Turtles were more of a singles band but did release some interesting ones at the end of their career. One of them was called The Turtles Present The Battle of the Bands. It was a concept album where they pretended to be different bands for each song. I’ve always liked that idea.

After they broke up Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan became Flo and Eddie.

Howard Kaylan: “When the Turtles first signed our original recording agreements with the tiny label that would become White Whale, we were all under the legal age of 18. Needless to say, the contracts required our parents’ approval. This was all done before a judge in the county of Los Angeles who reviewed the paperwork about to be executed and told our parents that, “If you let your sons sign these papers, the court won’t be responsible for the outcome. These are the worst contracts that I have ever seen.” We didn’t care. We wanted to make records and damn the consequences. So we signed. And our parents co-signed. And the judge had been right. It took many years and many thousands of dollars to win back our money and our self-respect. But, in the meantime, we had a record deal.

We had originally intended to break up our band, the Crossfires, on one particular evening in 1965, while playing our usual Friday night gig at the a teen club in Redondo Beach, California called the Revelaire. On my way upstairs with our resignation, two shady-looking entrepreneurs stopped me and asked if we were interested in making a record. They loved the way we sounded doing a cover of the new Byrds single (our guitarist had gone out and bought a 12-string guitar earlier that week) and thought that doing folk-rock was the key to our future.

It fell upon me to find the tunes to record. The Crossfires had been a surf band in high school, but together with a friend of ours, Betty McCarty, we had also done some folk singing as The Crosswind Singers. In fact, we opened a concert at Westchester High that starred the folk duo Joe and Eddie (a foreshadowing of things to come, many years before the names Flo and Eddie were to become our nom de plumes). I found Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ on an album and, being blissfully unaware that anyone else had ever recorded it, thought that it would make a great rock song. So I literally ‘lifted’ the Zombies’ approach to pop – a soft Colin Blunstone-like minor verse bursting into a four-four major chorus a-la ‘She’s Not There.’

It Ain’t Me Babe

Go away from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door

But it ain’t me, babe
A-no, no, no it ain’t me, babe
Well, it ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Go lightly from the ledge, babe
Go lightly on the ground
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’ll only lead you down
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’ll promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes to you
Someone to close his heart
Someone who will die for you and more

But it ain’t me, babe
A-no, no, no it ain’t me, babe
Well, it ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe
No it ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe
I said a-no, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
I said a-no, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
I said a-no, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
I said a-no, no, no, it ain’t me, babe


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Turtles – It Ain’t Me Babe”

  1. A lot of people wrote The Turtles off as a pop band…but a band that covered Dylan and wrote lyrics like “Elenore” was a band to be reckoned with. I have great respect for those who take their work, but not themselves, seriously.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. thanks for the link! I don’t think I’d heard this one before a couple of weeks back but it’s a good cover and apparently a pretty big hit for them. Man, reading that story, when the judge tells you it’s a bad contract, maybe you should listen to him!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been listening to The Turtles a bit since you posted another of their songs a few weeks ago (at least I think it was you). Before I only knew ‘Elenore’ and ‘Happy Together’, but they’re great.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Not real amped up about their cover of It Ain’t Me Babe, Zimmy has a lock on that one. I do remember having the 45 to Happy Together and loving that one. It would be neat to hear the Battle of the Bands album.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fun music back then. It sounded good coming out of my am radio through that 4 inch speaker in the dash. Then of course came 1969 and Manson, and the sixties were no more. I had their first album back then, but loaned it to a friend, then he to a friend and on and on, and I never got it back. Their disk are hard to find today. Flo and Eddie were also part of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, which I thought was freaky in itself.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I didn’t realize this was their first hit. It’s not my fave of theirs. Elenore and Happy Together are probably my favorites. I get riled every time I hear of young artists being ripped off. It shouldn’t take that much to get out of an under-age contract, even if their parents co-signed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Flo & Eddie were amazing. Turtles Greatest Hits is fab, and their post-band career is impressive as a back-scenes act… and yes it’s better than Dylan’s original, as most Dylan covers are. A giant in songwriting, not the greatest singer though…

    Liked by 1 person

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