The Way I Want to Touch You
|"The Way I Want To Touch You"|
|Single by Captain & Tennille|
|from the album Love Will Keep Us Together|
|Recorded||c. fall 1973|
|Captain & Tennille singles chronology|
“The Way I Want To Touch You" is a song written by Toni Tennille and started the professional recording careers for Captain & Tennille. Toni explained that she wrote the song about how she really felt about Daryl “The Captain” Dragon. She had written it in 1972, during the year when she and Daryl toured with The Beach Boys. The following was excerpted from Toni Tennille’s 2006 blog “Toni’s Take” at captainandtennille.net:
“In early 1972, thanks to Daryl’s recommendation to Music Director, Carl Wilson, I was hired to play piano by THE BEACH BOYS (which made me the one and only Beach Girl). I was beginning to fall in love with Daryl at the time, and I sensed that he might be feeling the same about me. One day we found ourselves in New Jersey, where the Beach Boys had scheduled a concert. As usual, all of us band members were assigned to stay at a “reasonably priced hotel”, while the Boys stayed in somewhat fancier digs near the venue. Our hotel du jour happened to be located at a New Jersey airport. It seems to me we were in Passaic....however, you know how dicey my memory can be...and, frankly, when you are changing cities and venues almost every day, you get into “If This Is Tuesday It Must Be Peoria” mode.
The hotel was part of a chain, similar to others all over the country.... ”businessman brown”, I used to call the rooms. Dull and fairly dingy, smelling of stale cigarette smoke, and usually furnished with a hard bed covered by a thin mustard and brown-colored floral bedspread, a brown naugahyde chair, a TV, and a bathroom of suspect cleanliness. Ah, the life of a traveling backup musician.
Even in this uninspiring atmosphere, I couldn’t get thoughts of Daryl out of my mind. A lyric line started bouncing around in my head....”I never wanted to touch a man the way that I want to touch you.” And, yes, I meant “touch” emotionally. Soon words started flooding in, and I wrote them down on a piece of hotel stationery.
But I needed a piano!!!! I write at the piano, and I always write alone. Even now I don’t want Daryl to listen as I compose new songs. I’m always sure he is thinking, “Now why did she use THAT chord, or THAT bass line?” I have to work it out to my own satisfaction before I play it for him. But the question was, where in the world would I find a decent piano in THIS place?
I went to the hotel manager, and told him what I wanted. He said there was an upright piano located in one of the conference rooms, and I was welcome to play it. Well...I found the piano, and it was TOTALLY out of tune! But it was all I had. As usual, by that time, I had a melody “coming through”, along with a chord progression, and a bass line. I always consider the bass line to be the foundation of a song, and it is very important to me to get it right. However, there I sat, at the crummy piano, thinking of Daryl and my feelings for him, and out came the song..THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU.
Later, I summoned up the nerve to play it for Daryl, although I didn’t tell him it was about my growing feelings for him. Remember, we didn’t know each other very well at that time. He complimented me on the song in his quiet way, and I knew from his reaction that the song was a good one. He mentioned that he heard hints of Brian Wilson’s bass lines in the composition, and he was certainly correct. Brian, whom Daryl and I both consider a musical genius, was very influential in my writing style.
There is a lot more to tell you about TOUCH YOU, but my favorite story about it was that a radio station in St. Louis refused to add it to their playlist because they said it was too “suggestive” for their listeners. I got such a big kick out of that. Throughout our career, Daryl and I have always been criticized for being too “square”, and here we were being too “suggestive”. I LOVED it!” '
In September 1973, Toni and Daryl were performing at The Smokehouse Restaurant in Encino, California and two men from a small F.M. station were in the audience one night. They asked Toni and Daryl if they had any records, and at the time, they hadn’t. This inspired the duo to record two songs, “The Way I Want To Touch You” and “Disney Girls” at a small recording studio (the size of a garage) located in the San Fernando Valley. A man by the name of Morgan Cavett, a songwriter and producer who gained his first major success by writing for the musical group Steppenwolf assisted Daryl and Toni with producing these recordings. On the liner notes of the “Love Will Keep Us Together” album a special thanks was given to Morgan Cavett for introducing the Captain to Tennille.
Daryl and Toni initially pressed a few copies and gave them to several small F.M. stations in the Los Angeles area. Soon the stations were calling the duo saying that were getting strong feedback. Daryl and Toni decided to go ahead and spend $250 to have 500 vinyl copies pressed. They sent samples to radio stations and then drove off in a camper truck to visit 130 stations in 22 states to promote the single. The original vinyl pressings were issued on Butterscotch Castle Records, a label name created by Captain and Tennille. Soon afterwards, additional copies were released and distributed by Joyce Records.
Three Los Angeles D.J.’s Wink Martindale and Gary Owens of KMPC and Johnny Hayes of KRLA began talking about the song and promoting it out of merit. The record finally caught the attention of A&M Records, who bought the single and re-released it on their label in 1974. This time it became a minor chart maker on the west coast, but was only qualified as a regional hit.
After the worldwide success of the single “Love Will Keep Us Together,” A&M Records re-released “The Way I Want To Touch You” in September 1975. This time the song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was their second #1 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A) for sales of 1 million units. Captain & Tennille recorded a Spanish version, entitled “Como Yo Quiero Sentirte” which was released as a single in 1975. It was taken from the Spanish version of their debut album “Por Amor Viviremos.” The duo also re-recorded “The Way I Want To Touch You” in 1995 for their album “20 Years of Romance.”
Other Notable Versions
- The Laurie Bower Singers on the 2002 album “Evergreen”
- Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaii on the 2006 album “Return to Romance” featuring vocals by Toni Tennille
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 45.