Monkees – Papa Gene’s Blues

80s Underground Mondays will be back next week…

Papa Gene’s Blues was written by Mike Nesmith with The Monkees in 1966 and was on their debut album. Nesmith also produced and sang the lead vocals on the track. The great James Burton and Glen Campbell are playing guitar on this track. The song reminds me of Ricky Nelson.

Nesmith was allowed two songs on the album. This one and Sweet Young Thing…which to me were two of the highlights of the album. Nesmith didn’t write pop songs…he wrote more country rock. Halfway into the guitar solo, Nesmith calls out “Aw, Pick It, Luther!”. Which is a shout out to Johnny Cash and his guitar player, Luther Perkin

I have to add this every time I do a Monkees post. They should be in the Hall of Fame, if only with their influence on three generations of listeners. The show debuted in the 60s, it was in reruns in the 70s (that was when I found them), and a complete revival in the 80s plus a tour. MTV promoted them heavily and they a hot item again. I saw them in 1986 and they were great.

Michael Nesmith:  “I liked the Monkees songs quite a bit, I wasn’t much of a pop writer. I tended, and still do, toward country blues, and lyrics with little moments in them – all pretty far off the pop songs of the ’60s. No resentment at all.”

Papa Gene’s Blues

No heartaches felt no longer lonely
Nights of waiting finally won me
Happiness that’s all rolled up in you

And now with you as inspiration
I look toward a destination
Sunny bright that once before was blue

I have no more than I did before
But now I’ve got all that I need
For I love you and I know you love me

So take my hand I’ll start my journey
Free from all the helpless worry
That besets a man when he’s alone

For strength is mine when we’re together
And with you I know I’ll never
Have to pass the high road for the low

I have no more than I did before
But now I’ve got all that I need
For I love you and I know you love me

Play, magic fingers!
Yee haw! Oh, pick it, Luther!

I have no more than I did before
But now I’ve got all that I need
For I love you and I know you love me

Yes, I love you and I know you love me


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

20 thoughts on “Monkees – Papa Gene’s Blues”

  1. For all the slapping around they got, The Monkees were a big deal in the mid-sixties. I wasn’t an immediate fan, but bought the albums for my younger sister, and took her to their concert in Dallas in 1966. Surprisingly, they were good until, Mike Nesmith stopped the concert and spent twenty- agonizing- minuets trying to tune his 12 string guitar; probably the one in the picture. Any musician or entertainer knows that is a death sentence in a live setting. That’s when they lost the crowd and people started leaving. We stayed, and he finally gave it up and picked up his other guitar and completed the show. Sure they didn’t play their own instruments while recording, and didn’t write their own songs, except for Nesmith, but most of the other top bands didn’t either. The Wrecking Crew made sixites rock music as we know it. I caught them in 1993 on an oldies tour with Hermans Hermits, Mark Lindsy and Lou Christie, and they clearly stole the show.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh…that is a cardinal sin live. I do have sympathy…I have a Danelectro electric 12 string (didn’t want to pay for a Rick…although I love them)…they are a pain in the ass to tune. I could not imagine doing that live!

      Yea even the Byrds didn’t play on their debut album except for McGuinn.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As I was watching the documentry, The Wrecking Crew, I was surprised at just how many. Wilson didn’t allow the Beach Boys to play on most of their albums. That means they had to learn it note for note in order to play it live.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I had two Rick twelves and both were a horror to keep in tune. My last one, a 330 was good for maybe two songs, then back to the stand it went. I eventaully found a pedel that reproduced the 12 string sound and that was good enough for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. What gives a Rick it’s unique sound is the octave string is below the main string instead of above like other 12s. I had an Epiphone 12 acoustic and reversed the octave and got almost the same sound as an acoustic Rick, which there are none that I know of.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m not sure on the compressor, but there is a knob that allows you to blend both pickups after they are set to the tone you like. I found that a huge help in getting that jingle jangle sound. A Fender amp is a must, the brighter the better.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I agree… a Fender amp is the way to go…for years I was chasing that jangle…and boxes don’t do the trick…one day I might have one….That is why McGuinn remains one of my favorite guitarists…hard to beat that sound.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. A new one to me. Pretty good tune, I’d have maybe mixed those maracas in a bit lower but the guitar work is A-1 (Probably the Glen Campbell bits!) . I agree, definitely deserve a place in Rock Hall of Fame…were briefly the biggest-selling act in the US during one of rock’s classic periods, had many memorable hits and really altered the way the music industry looked at visuals with their TV show and the videos embedded in them, so to speak.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know…as you know I’m a big supporter of them…influenced generations. Nesmith’s country rock songs like this one…were really good.

      Even their far out music with that movie Head…Obbverse and I talked about that movie…it’s something to watch…they pretty much self destructed as a band because that was the purpose of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant song and record. Glen Campbell is always awesome on guitar. I saw him when he had alzheimers and he could still play it held behind his head. If critics had been paying attention they would have noticed Nesmith songs were the equal of the Diamond, Goffin And King, Boyce and Hart professionals AND he wrote a brilliant hit for Linda Ronstadt and later got covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The Beatles held no snotty attitude towards them and their records have stood the test of time. Unlike critical opinion from headline grabbing nobodys. And i will keep supporting your criticism of the Hall of Shame 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This song I recognize the name, but have almost never heard it. I agree the Monkees were the real deal. They do belong in the HOF, which is a scandal in itself. Nesmith and Dolenz are touring now in a Monkees ‘farewell’ tour. They are coming to an area theater in November…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw them in 1986…the loudest band I’d seen…my ears were ringing for days.
      They didn’t have Mike though…I wouldn’t mind seeing them to see Mike.

      Liked by 2 people

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