Monkees – Sweet Young Thing

I was 7 and I had just borrowed the Monkees debut album from a cousin. I thought the band was still together and playing in the mid seventies. I had no clue they broke up years before. This is one of the songs I would wear out on the album.

The song stands out from the other songs on the album. This isn’t pop…it’s more like a country driven garage rock band song. I truly think Nesmith would made it in the music business with or without the Monkees. He would soon write the Stone Poneys hit “Different Drum” that peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100 in 1967. This song was released on the debut album in 1966.

Mike Nesmith made it clear from the beginning he wanted to write songs. Nesmith was a talented songwriter. The shows creator Don Kirshner set him up to write with Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Michael wasn’t ungrateful and he commented that he liked both of them but he didn’t like being forced to write with someone else. Kirshner resented the rejection, feeling that a nobody like Nesmith should have flipped over the opportunity to work with two songwriting legends. In the end though we did get this song.

Kirshner didn’t like having the band do anything but sing and act in the show. That didn’t last long with Nesmith leading them…by the third album the Monkees were playing their own instruments and writing some songs.

I just listened to it again for the first time in years and every nuance and word came back to me instantly. This was my first “favorite” Monkee song.

This was an album track not released as a single.

Sweet Young Thing

I know that something very strange
Has happened to my brain
I’m either feeling very good
Or else I am insane
The seeds of doubt you’ve planted
Have started to grow wild
And I feel that I must yield before
The wisdom of a child

And it’s love you bring
No that I can’t deny
With your wings
I can learn to fly
Sweet young thing

People try to talk to me
Their words are ugly sounds
But I resist all their attempts
To try and bring me down..
Turned on to the sunset
Like I’ve never been before
How I listen for your footsteps
As you knock upon the door

And it’s love you bring
No that I can’t deny
With your wings
I can learn to fly
Sweet young thing

And it’s love you bring
With dreams of bluer skies
And all these things
When I see it in your eyes
Sweet young thing

Sweet young thing

Monkees – The Girl I Knew Somewhere

In my childhood I played the Monkees to death…all along thinking they were still together and playing but they had broken up years before. On their first two albums they were not allowed to play their own instruments (other bands had this problem also) but by the third album they fought for their freedom and won it.

I remember the show this song was in…Julie Newmar was in it…I didn’t forget Julie Newmar.

“The Girl I Knew Somewhere” was the first song recorded by the Monkees containing instruments performed by the band members. The song was written by Monkee;’s guitar player Mike Nesmith. Mike also wrote the hit A Different Drum for the Stone Ponys…Linda Ronstadt’s band.

When it was recorded Mike Nesmith recorded the lead vocals but later on Mickey Dolenz put his lead vocals down for more of a commercial sound.

The song was a B side to A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (#2 in the Billboard 100). It was not on an album but The Girl I Knew Somewhere peaked at #39 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

The video for the show was a winner with Julie Newmar

The Girl I Knew Somewhere

You tell me that you’ve never been this way before.
You tell me things I know that I’ve heard somewhere.
You’re standing in the places and you’re
staring down through faces, that bring to mind traces
of a girl, a girl that I knew somewhere.

I just can’t put my finger on what it is
that says to me “Watch out! Don’t believe her.”
I can’t give any reasons girl,
my thoughts are bound down in a whirl.
I just can’t think who in the world was that girl;
I know I met her somewhere.

Someway, somehow this same thing was done.
Someone, somewhere did me this same wrong.

Well, goodbye dear, I just can’t take this chance again.
My fingers are still burning from the last time.
And if your love was not a game, I only have myself to blame.
That’s as may be, I can’t explain.

Just ask the girl that I knew somewhere.

Monkees – I’m A Believer

This song was #1 on the Billboard 100, Canada, The UK, and New Zealand on January 15th 1967… That day since we are talking about it…the first Superbowl was played when the Packers beat the Chiefs.

I grew up with this song so it is ingrained in the back of my mind. That organ intro will stick with you. Say what you want to about the Monkees…they produced some of the great pop songs of the sixties…no matter how much  Jann Wenner (Rolling Stone Magazine) snubs them for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Every Monkees post I usually say something like that…what Wenner doesn’t get, among many things, is that the Monkees influenced a couple of generations of musicians (REM, XTC included). Like other bands of that time in California…studio musicians played on their first two albums and Wenner cannot forget that. They became a band after being cast together. They started to play on the 3rd album and continued with hits.

This was The Monkees second single, after “Last Train To Clarksville.” It was released during the first season of their TV show.

Neil Diamond wrote this song. He had his first big hit earlier in 1966 with “Cherry, Cherry,” which got the attention of Don Kirshner, who was looking for material for The Monkees. Kirshner was sold on “I’m A Believer,” and as part of the deal, allowed Diamond to record the song as well. Diamond’s version was released on his 1967 album Just For You. The Monkees version benefited from exposure on their television series.

Guitarist Michael Nesmith didn’t believe this would be a hit, complaining to the producer, Jeff Barry, “I’m a songwriter, and that’s no hit.” Jeff Barry banned him from the studio while Micky Dolenz recorded his lead vocal…Mr. Nesmith was wrong about this one.

Neil Diamond: “I was thrilled, because at heart I was still a songwriter and I wanted my songs on the charts. It was one of the songs that was going to be on my first album, but Donny Kirshner, who was their music maven, hears ‘Cherry, Cherry’ on the radio and said, ‘Wow, I want one like that for The Monkees!’ He called my producers, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich – ‘Hey, does this kid have any more?’ And they played him the things I had cut for the next album and he picked ‘I’m A Believer,’ ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ and ‘Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow),’ and they had some huge hits. But the head of my record company freaked. He went through the roof because he felt that I had given #1 records away to another group. I couldn’t have cared less because I had to pay the rent and The Monkees were selling records and I wasn’t being paid for my records.”

From Songfacts

The Monkees sang on this, but did not play any instruments. The producers used session musicians because they were not convinced The Monkees could play like a real band. This became a huge point of contention, as the group fought to play their own songs.

Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz sang lead on this. Dolenz also handled lead vocals on “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Mary Mary” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.”

Neil Diamond had intended the song to be recorded by the Country artist Eddy Arnold, and was surprised when record executive Don Kirshner passed it instead to The Monkees.

A cover version by Smash Mouth was featured in the 2001 movie Shrek and went to #25 in the US. Diamond wrote the song “You Are My Number One” for Smash Mouth’s next album. 

The single had an advance order of 1,051,280 copies and went gold within two days of release.

British singer-songwriter and Soft Machine founding member Robert Wyatt had a #29 in the UK in 1974 with an intense cover version. His rendition featured Andy Summers (later of The Police) on guitar, and drums by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, who also produced the recording.

Wyatt told Q Magazine that he wanted to make a point with his cover. “I was very uncomfortable with having fans who said ‘Your music is so much better than all that banal pop music,'” he said. “It sounds like a socialist thing to say but pop music is the music of the people. It’s the folk music of the industrial age. If you don’t respect popular culture. You don’t respect people, in which case your political opinion is of no great value.”

Dolenz has painful memories of performing this on tour. Literally painful. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2016. “I do remember lots of snatches of touring back then. Unbelievable. No monitors. Screaming. Screaming, screaming. [When we played ‘I’m a Believer’] I couldn’t hear myself. I just had to pound away. Even to this day, I sing with my eyes closed, because I had to close my eyes and hit myself in the leg to keep time on the drums. I had a big bruise. [Laughs]”

I’m A Believer

I thought love was only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else but not for me
Love was out to get me
That’s the way it seemed
Disappointment haunted all of my dreams

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I’m in love
I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried

I thought love was more or less a giving thing
Seems the more I gave the less I got
What’s the use in tryin’
All you get is pain?
When I needed sunshine, I got rain

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I’m in love
I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried

Oh

Oh, love was out to get me
Now, that’s the way it seemed
Disappointment haunted all of my dreams

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
I’m in love
I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried

Yes, I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind
Said, I’m a believer, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (I’m a believer)
Said, I’m a believer, yeah (I’m a believer)
I said, I’m a believer, yeah (I’m a believer)

Monkees – Saturday’s Child

This song is for Song Lyric Sunday for Jim Adams’s blog. This week’s prompt…Days of the Week…Everyone have a good Sunday!

When I was 7 in 1974 I borrowed the Monkees debut album from my cousin. I listened to the album over and over. This song has been described by some critics of having a “proto-heavy metal guitar riff.” It does have a heavy riff and it is different than the other Monkees songs.

The Monkees Album.jpg

Being seven years old and listening to pop bands from my sister’s collection I thought this song was “hard rock” because it had a guitar with some distortion. The Monkees influenced a generation of young musicians. They made being in a band look fun and in the sixties many kids watched them and wanted to play music because of the Monkees. They don’t get the credit they deserve and are snubbed by Jann Wenner and the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.

At first they didn’t play their instruments but by the third album they all played plus Michael Nesmith wrote songs for many of their albums. Peter Tork and Nesmith were musicians to begin with and good ones…Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones soon learned their parts and contributed. Dolenz and Tork also wrote.

What is not mentioned is a lot of bands didn’t play their instruments on their first albums like the Mama’s and Papas and the Byrds. Many bands had studio musicians to help them out.

Ok…I’ll get off of my soapbox now. This song was written by David Gates (who wrote and sang in Bread). Saturday’s Child was not released as a single but it was a good album track released in 1966. The Monkees debut album The Monkees peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, UK, and Canada.

Saturday’s Child

Monday had a sad child
Always feeling low down,
Tuesday had a dream child
She’s always on the go
So I’m in love with Saturday’s child

Every time you take her out at night
(She drives me wild)
You want to kiss and hold her way up tight
(Gonna spend my time)
You can tell the future’s looking bright
(Making sure that Saturday’s child is mine)

If you love a Wednesday
You live your life apart now
And if you love a Thursday
She’s gonna break your heart,
So I’m in love with Saturday’s Child

Every time you hold her close you’ll see
(She drives me wild)
You can feel the thrill that’s gonna be
(Gonna spend my time)
Now the future has a guarantee
(Making sure that Saturday’s child is mine)

Seven days of the week made to choose from
But only one is right for me
I know that Saturday’s got what it takes, babe.
I can tell by the way she looks at me.

Friday likes the good life
She’ll take you for a ride now
And Sunday makes a good wife
She wants to be your bride
So I’m in love with Saturday’s child

Monkees – Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day

What do the Monkees and Dwight Yoakum have in common? They both covered this song.

Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day is a song written by Tommy Boyce and Steve Venet that appears on The Monkees, the debut album of the Monkees.

Micky sang the lead on this song. He is the only Monkee on this recording but this setup fell away quickly as the band began to take ownership of their music and come into their own as musicians and songwriters by the 3rd album. This song has the same sound as Last Train To Clarksville…it is a nice pop song.

It was not released as a single but it was a solid song for the Monkees brand of pop.

Dwight Yoakam also covered this song. The song was on his album Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day and was released in the summer of 2016.

Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Another Day

I’m gonna pack up my pain,
I been a keepin’ in my heart,
I’m gonna catch me the fastest train
And make me a brand new start
But that’s okay,
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day,
Hey, hey, hey.
And I don’t care what they say
Tomorrow’s gonna be, tomorrow’s gonna be,
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day.
Yay, yay, yay,
Yay, yay, yay.

They say there’s a lotta fish,
Swimmin’ in the deep blue sea,
I’m gonna catch me a pretty one
And she’ll be good to me.
But that’s okay,
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day,
Hey, hey, hey.
And I don’t care what they say
Tomorrow’s gonna be, tomorrow’s gonna be,
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day.
Yay, yay, yay,
Yay, yay, yay.

Well, I ain’t gonna think about ya,
‘Cause it ain’t no use no more,
I’m gonna make it fine without ya,
Just like I did before,
I’m on my way.
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day,
Hey, hey, hey.
And I don’t care what they say
Tomorrow’s gonna be, tomorrow’s gonna be,
Tomorrow’s gonna be another day.
Yay, yay, yay,
Yay, yay, yay.

[repeat and fade]

Monkees – Monkees Theme

Hey Hey…Let’s all wake up to the Monkees on this quarantined morning. It’s hard to resist this song…it’s fun and reminds me of the intro to their television show…which is a good thing.

This was the first song written and recorded for The Monkees TV series, which ran on NBC 1966-1968. Written to introduce the Monkees and used as the theme song for the show.

It was written by the songwriter/producers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who were hired to write three songs for the show’s pilot, including the theme. When they wrote it, the cast had not been chosen and they had very little direction…the show was pitched as “An American version of The Beatles” and loosely based on the Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night.

Peter Tork: “I always thought the song worked fine as the theme song for the TV show. But I never allowed us to sing it in public,” “The whole idea of standing up there and singing, ‘We’re wonderful/We’re the wonderful ones/And our names are The Wonderful Ones,’ was too self-congratulatory. What we do now is, the backing band plays [the music] and Micky and I come out onstage to it. I can’t ever see us singing ‘Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees!’ I couldn’t bear it.”

 

From Songfacts

The finger snaps and “here we come” line were influenced by the Dave Clark Five song “Catch Us If You Can,” where they sing, “Here we come again, catch us if you can.”

The Monkees didn’t play on their early albums, so very often the only band member to appear on a song would be its lead vocalist, which in this case was Micky Dolenz. This song was produced by the song’s writers, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who had members of their band, the Candy Store Prophets, play the instruments. The backing credits are as follows:

Micky Dolenz: vocal
Tommy Boyce: backing vocals
Wayne Erwin, Gerry Mcgee & Louie Shelton: guitar
Larry Taylor: bass
Billy Lewis: drums
Gene Estes: percussion

Turns out this song works very well in a documentary about actual monkeys: It was used to open the 2015 Disney film Monkey Kingdom.

The Monkees Theme

Here we come
Walkin’ down the street
We get the funniest looks from
Everyone we meet

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down

We go wherever we want to
Do what we like to do
We don’t have time to get restless
There’s always something new

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down

We’re just tryin’ to be friendly
Come and watch us sing and play
We’re the young generation
And we’ve got something to say, oh

Any time
Or anywhere
Just look over your shoulder
Guess who’ll be standing there?

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down

Whaaa, one time!

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down

We’re just tryin’ to be friendly
Come and watch us sing and play
We’re the young generation
And we’ve got something to say

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees

Monkees – Mary, Mary

It’s a misconception that the Monkees completely relied on other people to write all of their songs. They also started playing their own instruments starting with the third album. Michael Nesmith wrote this song before he joined The Monkees. The song was the B side to The Monkees Theme.

Loved this song when I was growing up. I still like the song and the drum sound they recorded. It has been covered by different artists. It was first recorded by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band on their East-West album on Elektra in 1966. The president of Elektra actually caught some flap once the Monkees’ version came out because people couldn’t believe that a Monkee actually wrote it.

Run-D.M.C. also covered this in 1988 on their album Tougher Than Leather.

Micheal Nesmith: Nesmith: “That song was written to be a hit. I knew it would be a hit. I never once thought of me doing the lead on that one. Mickey was my choice for that.”

Mary, Mary

Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, Mary, can I go too.
This one thing I will vow ya,
I’d rather die than to live without ya.

Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, Mary, tell me truly
What did I do to make you leave me.
Whatever it was I didn’t mean to,

You know I never would try and hurt ya.
Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
What more, Mary, can I do
To prove my love is truly yours?

I’ve done more now than a clear-thinkin’ man would do.
Mary, Mary, it’s not over.
Where you go, I will follow.
‘Til I win your love again

And walk beside you,
But until then.
Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?

Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to

Monkees – Randy Scouse Git

I thought I would feature one more Monkees song this weekend. This song was a huge hit in the UK where it peaked at #2 but in America, it was not released as a single. As a kid, I really liked this one because it is so catchy. Mickey Dolenz wrote this song while in England. They had just come from a party thrown for them by the Beatles.

It was on their album Headquarters with the Monkees playing and singing most of the music themselves. On this song… Nesmith is playing guitar, Tork is playing piano, Dolenz drums, Jones is singing backup vocals with Chip Douglas playing bass. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

When they were going to release it in England, the Monkees were told, ‘You have to change the title.’ The record company said ‘It’s dirty. You have to change it to an alternate title. It was released in England as Alternate Title. It was the title that was found offensive…nothing in the song. Mickey said translated it meant basically “horny, Liverpudlian jerk.”

Micky Dolenz: “Many years ago we had the pleasure of going over to the UK and meeting the royal family: The Beatles. And one night they threw us a party. I’m told I had a great time. After the party, I went back to my hotel room and I noodled around and I wrote a song that I called Randy Scouse Git.”

From Songfacts
So in England it became a big hit and it’s called, over in England, ‘Alternate Title.’ Here, it’s still called ‘Randy Scouse Git.’ And loosely translated it means a horny Liverpudlian putz.”

The TV show were Micky Dolenz heard the title phrase was Till Death Us Do Part, a sitcom that aired on the BBC. This program was the basis for the American show All in the Family.

The only offensive aspect of this song is the title, which doesn’t appear in the lyrics. The song itself is stream of observations pieced together by Dolenz during the group’s visit to England. Some of the references in the song:

The “Four Kings of EMI” were The Beatles, who recorded for EMI Records.

“She’s a wonderful lady, and she’s mine, all mine” relates to Micky’s girlfriend at the time, Samantha Juste, who he married in 1968. The couple met when The Monkees performed on the British TV show Top Of The Pops, where Juste was on-air talent.

The “a girl in a yellow dress” was Mama Cass Elliot of The Mamas & the Papas – she was also in England enjoying the scene.

The British slang words in the title, roughly translated, are as follows:

“Randy”: Horny, in search of sex.
“Scouse”: A person from the north of England.
“Git”: Sort of a jerk, or an idiot.

When The Monkees performed the song on their TV show, Micky Dolenz was out front singing lead behind a tympani, while Davy Jones manned the drums. It was used in the episode “The Picture Frame,” which aired on September 18, 1967.

Randy Scouse Git

She’s a wonderful lady and she’s mine, all mine
And there doesn’t seem a way that she won’t come and lose my mind
It’s too easy humming songs to a girl in a yellow dress
It’s been a long time since the party and the room is in a mess

The four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor
There are birds out on the sidewalk and a valet at the door
He reminds me of a penguin with few and plastered hair
There’s talcum powder on the letter and the birthday boy is there

Why don’t you cut your hair?
Why don’t you live up there?
Why don’t you do what I do, see what I feel when I care?

Now they’ve darkened all the windows and the seats are naugh-a-hyde
I’ve been waiting for an hour
I can’t find a place to hide
The being known as wonder girl
Is speaking, I believe
It’s not easy trying to tell her
That I shortly have to leave

Why don’t you be like me?
Why don’t you stop and see?
Why don’t you hate who I hate,
Kill who I kill to be free?

Why don’t you cut your hair?
Why don’t you live up there?
Why don’t you do what I do,
See what I feel when I care?

Why don’t you be like me? (she’s a wonderful lady)
Why don’t you stop and see? (and she’s mine, all mine)
Why don’t you hate who I hate, (and there doesn’t seem a way)
Kill who I kill to be free? (that she won’t come and lose my mind)
Why don’t you cut your hair? (it’s too easy humming songs)
Why don’t you live up there? (to a girl in a yellow dress)
Why don’t you do what I do, (it’s been a long time since the party)
See what I feel when I care? (and the room is in a mess)

Monkees – Daydream Believer

This is a very good pop song. A folk singer named John Stewart wrote this song. Stewart was a member of The Kingston Trio from 1961 to 1967, and he wrote this shortly after leaving the group and teaming up with John Denver.

It had been turned down by We Five and Spanky and Our Gang, and even Davy Jones was not sure about recording the song. The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in New Zealand, #5 in the UK, and #1 in Canada in 1967. Davy Jones said it was his favorite Monkees song.

It was on the album The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees released in 1968. The album peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100 in 1968.

This was the Monkees’ last #1 single. It was soon knocked out of the #1 spot by The Beatles “Hello Goodbye.”

From Songfacts

In 1968, Stewart became the official musician of the Democratic party, which involved traveling with Senator Robert Kennedy during his Presidential campaign. In 1979 he had a Top 5 US hit with “Gold.”

John Stewart died on January 19, 2008 from a massive stroke. In a letter posted on the Kingston Trio site, Stewart’s close friend Tom Delisle wrote: “John Stewart leaves a compilation of musical excellence unparalleled in his time. He recorded over 45 solo albums following his seven years in the Kingston Trio, 1961-67. He worked all the way up to the time of his death, having recently completed his latest as-yet untitled album. It is estimated that he wrote more than 600 unique and highly personal songs, many of them constituting a modern musical history of his beloved America.” 

The song was covered by Anne Murray in 1979. Her version reached #3 on the US Country chart and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song returned to the Hot 100 for a third time in 1986 when a re-tooled version by the reunited Monkees peaked at #79.

A version by Olivia Newton-John appears in the 2011 movie A Few Best Men, in which she also has a role. 

To appease their record label, the Monkees had to make one small change to Stewart’s lyrics. The group’s drummer Micky Dolenz explained: “As we sing it, there’s a line, ‘Now, you know how happy I can be.’ John wrote, ‘Now, you know how funky I can be.’ But the music department said, ‘The Monkees are not singing the word ‘funky.” [Laughs] Funky meant oily, and greasy, and sexy – and they weren’t going to have us say it.”

Daydream Believer

7-A
What number is this to?
7-A
Okay, don’t get excited man, it’s ’cause I’m short, I know

Oh, I could hide ‘neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings
The six-o’clock alarm would never ring
But six rings and I rise
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes
The shaving razor’s cold and it stings

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

You once thought of me
As a white knight on his steed
Now you know how happy I can be
Oh, our good time starts and ends
Without all I want to spend
But how much, baby, do we really need?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Cheer up, sleepy Jean

Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville

When I first heard this song as an eight-year-old in 1975 I thought wow…The Monkees are singing about Clarksville Tennessee…right up the road from me! Well no they were not but ignorance is bliss. It ended up fitting Clarksville TN very well because Bobby Hart (co-writer) said the song was written as a protest song against Vietnam but they had to hide that because it was The Monkees.

The song is about a guy who gets drafted and goes to fight in the war. The train is taking him to an army base, and he knows he may die in Vietnam. At the end of the song, he states, “I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.”

Bobby Hart said: “We were just looking for a name that sounded good. There’s a little town in Northern Arizona I used to go through in the summer on the way to Oak Creek Canyon called Clarksdale. We were throwing out names, and when we got to Clarksdale, we thought Clarksville sounded even better. We didn’t know it at the time, [but] there is an Air Force base near the town of Clarksville, Tennessee – which would have fit the bill fine for the storyline. We couldn’t be too direct with The Monkees. We couldn’t really make a protest song out of it – we kind of snuck it in.”

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, a songwriting team came up with many songs for The Monkees. They also wrote songs for Chubby Checker and Jay & the Americans.

The only Monkee to appear on this was Mickey Dolenz singing the lead vocal. The Monkees would get beat down by the music press because they didn’t play their own instruments. Some bands like the Beach Boys used the same session musicians. Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were good musicians who played long before the Monkees. Later on, they DID play their own instruments starting with their 3rd album Headquarters and still had hits. As far as Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame…they should be inside the Hall. The Monkees influenced many young kids through more than just one generation.

Last Train To Clarksville peaked at #1 on the Billboard 100 in 1966. They followed this up with another number 1 with I’m A Believer.

 

 

From Songfacts

Bobby Hart got the idea for the lyrics when he turned on the radio and heard the end of The Beatles “Paperback Writer.” He thought Paul McCartney was singing “Take the last train,” and decided to use the line when he found out McCartney was actually singing “Paperback Writer.” Hart knew that The Monkees TV series was pitched as a music/comedy series in the spirit of The Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night, so he knew emulating The Beatles would be a winner. To do that, he made sure to put a distinctive guitar riff in this song, and wrote in the “Oh No-No-No, Oh No-No-No” lyrics as a response to the Beatles famous “Yeah Yeah Yeah.”

The only Monkee to appear on this song was Micky Dolenz, who sang lead. The four members of the group were chosen from over 400 applicants to appear on a TV show based on The Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night. The show was about a fictional band, so the members were chosen more for their looks and acting ability than for their musical talent.

Session musicians played on the Monkees albums, usually some combination of Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, James Burton, David Gates, Carol Kaye, Jim Gordon and Hal Blaine. According to the liner notes on the 1994 reissue of the album, however, members of a group called the Candy Store Prophets did the instrumental backing on this track at a session that took place July 25, 1966 at RCA Victor Studios in Hollywood. The Candy Store Prophets were Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s band, and included Boyce on acoustic guitar, Gerry McGee on electric guitar, Larry Taylor on bass and Billy Lewis on drums. Additional musicians on this track were Wayne Erwin and Louie Shelton on guitar, and Gene Estes on percussion.

Often reported as having played guitar on this track is Jesse Ed Davis, a Native American whose accomplishment included backing George Harrison at the Concert for Bangla Desh and playing the solo on Jackson Browne’s first hit, “Doctor My Eyes.”

This was The Monkees’ first single. It was released shortly after their TV show started on NBC and got a lot of publicity as a result. The Monkees followed it up with another hit, “I’m A Believer,” and had several more chart entries before their show was canceled in 1968. Eventually, the group wrote their own songs and played their own instruments.

When this song was released as a single, it went straight to #1, knocking “96 Tears” by ? & the Mysterians down to #2.

The Monkees took a lot of heat when they became successful recording artists without playing on their songs. Their drummer Micky Dolenz explained in The Wrecking Crew film: “I think there was a lot of resentment in the recording industry that we’d come out of nowhere, left field, and sort of just shot right to the top without having to kind of go through the ropes. The music industry back then was pretty crooked, and some people say even to this day. And I didn’t know at the time anything about the business end of it, but all of the sudden, the radio stations, the rack jobbers, the distributors, all these people that had a lot of power at that time – all of the sudden, they had to start playing the Monkees songs; they had to start racking them, they had to start distributing them. They had no choice. It was just so huge because of the television show. And that’s the first time anything like that had ever happened. And I think that probably created a lot of resentment.”

There is a certain lyrical dissonance in this song, as the upbeat music is contrasted with lyrics about being shipped off to war. Carol Kaye, who played bass on the session, told Songfacts, “The tempo of the tune was a good tempo. And that’s the main thing is to keep that tempo going. Back in the ’60s, you’re playing for people who dance. And if the tempo is 1-2-3-4, that’s a dance tempo. So you’re going to keep the tempo up, that’s important. So no, the mood of the song is not critical if the tempo is high, if the tempo is fast. If it’s slow, yeah, it’s kind of critical, and it depends upon how much is happening in the tune, too.”

One of the key elements of the song came out of sheer exhaustion. Micky Dolenz explains: “We were working 24/7. Normally, you do a TV series – eight, 10 hours a day – and go home. But after filming the show, I would go into the studio and sometimes record two or three lead vocals a night. So, it’s all a bit of a blur. That middle bit, there were words to that. Bobby Hart tells the story that I said, ‘It’s midnight, I have to be on the set at six. I can’t learn to sing that.’ He said, ‘Okay, just go ‘Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo…’ You never know, if I’d sang all those words, it might not have worked.”

Last Train To Clarksville

Take the last train to Clarksville
And I’ll meet you at the station
You can be there by four-thirty
‘Cause I’ve made your reservation, don’t be slow
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no

‘Cause I’m leaving in the morning
And I must see you again
We’ll have one more night together
Till the morning brings my train and I must go
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no

And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home

Take the last train to Clarksville
I’ll be waiting at the station
We’ll have time for coffee-flavored kisses
And a bit of conversation
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no

Take the last train to Clarksville
Now I must hang up the phone
I can’t hear you in this noisy railroad station all alone
I’m feeling low
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no

And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home

Oh

Take the last train to Clarksville
And I’ll meet you at the station
You can be here by four-thirty
‘Cause I’ve made your reservation, don’t be slow
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no

And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home
Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville

Monkees – For Pete’s Sake

Thinking of Peter Tork who passed away Thursday at 77. This song would play over the closing credits of their TV show. Peter Tork (Peter Halsten Thorkelson) co-wrote the song with Joey Richards. “For Pete’s Sake” kicked off side two of the Monkees’ third album, 1967’s Headquarters. The song was not released as a single but the album Headquarters (the Monkees played their instruments on this one) and eventually peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 until Sgt Pepper took over the spot.

The song has a garage band sound and lyrically it’s very 1967…and that is a good thing.

 

For Pete’s Sake

Love is understanding,
Don’t you know that this is true.
Love is understanding,
It’s in everything we do.

In this generation,
In this lovin’ time,
In this generation,
We will make the world shine.

We were born to love one another
This is something we all need.
We were born to love one another
We must be what we’re goin’ to be
And what we have to be is free.

In this generation,
In this lovin’ time,
In this generation,
We will make the world shine.

We were born to love one another
This is something we all need.
We were born to love one another
We must be what we’re goin’ to be
And what we have to be is free.

Love is undertanding, we gotta be free
Love is undertanding, we gotta be free
[Repeat and adlib]

Top 10 Favorite TV Themes 1-5

Some TV Themes can be annoying but many can be very catchy. I’m listing my top 10 on two posts. There are so many that narrowing it to ten was almost impossible. I’ve stuck with older ones for the post. I left out cartoons…

5. The Courtship of Eddie’s Father -Harry  Nilsson sang this one staring the one and only Bill Bixby.

 

4. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show – The most brilliant theme…straight to the point.

3. Munsters – Cool sixties guitar driven theme.

 

2. Welcome Back Kotter – John Sebastian’s song Welcome Back peaked at #1 in 1976.

 

1. Monkees – Whenever I hear it I’m 5 again.

 

 

 

 

Monkees – (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone

I’ve been posting some garage band songs lately…the style of this one is close. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote this but intended it for Paul Revere And The Raiders. Boyce and Hart also wrote The Monkees hits “Last Train To Clarksville” and “Valleri.” The song peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 in 1967. This was a B side to I’m A Believer.

The Monkees influenced many to pick up an instrument and want to be in a  band. I am one of those people…I watched them in syndication and from them, I found The Beatles.  They made it look fun and exciting…of course, they didn’t show the egos and the arguments but that is alright. Artists such as Michael Stipe and Andy Partridge have talked about how the Monkees influenced them.

The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame seems determined to keep them out which I think is wrong considering some of the bands that they have in there. The influence alone should get them in… Not to mention 20 songs in the Billboard 100, 6 top ten hits, and 3 number 1’s.

Here is a post by Blackwing on the subject.

From Songfacts

This is about a girl who walks all over a guy who decides he’s not going to take it any more.

Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz sang lead, and was the only Monkee to perform on the song. In their early years, The Monkees songs were usually recorded by top session musicians. The Monkees had a popular TV show where their songs (including this one) aired, which helped them climb the charts.

In their later years, The Sex Pistols performed this with Sid Vicious singing lead. 

British group The Farm had their first hit with a 1990 remake of this called “Stepping Stone.”

Monkees keyboardist/bass guitarist Peter Tork on the song’s relevance: “The songs that we got [in the ’60s] were really songs of some vigor and substance. ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’ is not peaches and cream. It comes down hard on the subject, poor girl. And the weight of the song is indicated by the fact that the Sex Pistols covered it. Anybody trying to write ”60s songs’ now thinks that you have to write ’59th St. Bridge.’ [Sings] ‘Feeling groovy!’ Which is an okay song, but has not got a lot of guts. ‘Stepping Stone’ has guts.”

(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone

I-I-I-I-I’m not your steppin’ stone
I-I-I-I-I’m not your steppin’ stone

You’re trying to make your mark in society
You’re using all the tricks that you used on me
You’re reading all them high-fashion magazines
The clothes you’re wearing, girl, they’re causing public scenes

I said, I-I-I-I-I’m not your steppin’ stone
I-I-I-I-I’m not your steppin’ stone

(No!)

Not your steppin’ stone
Not your steppin’ stone

When I first met you, girl, you didn’t have no shoes
But, now you’re walking around like you’re front-page news
You’ve been awful careful ’bout the friends you choose
But, you won’t find my name in your book of “who’s-who?”

I said, I-I-I-I-I’m not your steppin’ stone
(No, girl, not me!)
I-I-I-I-I’m not your steppin’ stone

(No!)

Not your steppin’ stone
I’m not your steppin’ stone

Not your steppin’ stone (step-step-steppin’ stone)
Not your steppin’ stone (step-step-steppin’ stone)
Not your steppin’ stone (step-step-steppin’ stone)
Not your steppin’ stone (step-step-steppin’ stone)

No, girl, I’m not your steppin’ stone
Not your steppin’ stone (step-step-steppin’ stone)
Not your steppin’ stone (step-step-steppin’ stone)

Monkees – Goin’ Down

I just rediscovered this song from watching Breaking Bad recently.

The Monkees “Goin’ Down” was released as the B side to Daydream Believer and reached only #104 in the Billboard 100. It was written by all four members of the Monkees and Diane Hildebrand. Micky Dolenz has a good pop/rock voice.

From Wiki

In 2012, the composition met with controversy for its unexpected use in the television show, Breaking Bad. Dolenz, who was unaware an abridged version of “Goin’ Down” was to be featured on the show, commented, “‘Goin’ Down’ has nothing to do with drugs, obviously. And I certainly don’t condone meth — that is nasty stuff that kills a lot of people and ruins a lot of lives. … On the other hand, I like the TV show, it’s very well-made. … And no, I didn’t make a penny”.

From Songfacts.

Peter Tork says this was based on Mose Allison’s “Parchment Farm.” It’s about a drunken guy who “ends it all” by jumping into the river, and immediately regrets it as he’s “Goin’ Down.”

Drummer Micky Dolenz sang lead.

All the Monkees got writer’s credit on this song.

This was released as the B-side of “Daydream Believer.”

 

Goin’ Down

Sock it to me…

Floatin’ down the river,
With a saturated liver,
And I wish I could forgive her,
But I do believe she meant it,
When she told me to forget it,
And I bet she will regret it,
When they find me in the morning wet and drowned.
And the word gets ’round.
I’m goin’ down
I’m goin’ down

A-comin’ up for air,
It’s pretty stuffy under there,
I’d like to say I didn’t care,
But I forgot to leave a note,
And it’s so hard to stay afloat,
I’m soakin’ wet without a boat,
And I knew I should have taken off my shoes.
Ah, it’s front-page news.
Goin’ down
Goin’ down

Hep Hep 
Hep Hep
Hep Hep 
Hep Hep
Hep 
Hep Hep
Hep Hep

I wish I had another drink,
It wouldn’t be so hard to sink,
I should have taken time to think,
Besides I got the picture straight,
She must have had another date,
I didn’t need this extra weight,
I wish that I could see the way to shore.
I don’t want no more.
Goin’ down
I’m goin’ down

And now I see the life I led,
I slept it all away in bed,
I shoulda learned to swim instead,
And now it’s really got me stumped,
I can’t remember why I jumped,
I’d like to get my tummy pumped,
I can’t believe they drink this stuff in town.
This dirty brown.
Goin’ down
Goin’ down

I’m goin’ down, hep
Goin’ down
Hep Hep
Goin’ down Dga
Goin’ down goin’ down
Goin’ down goin’ down
Goin’ down

I wish I’d looked before I leaped,
I didn’t know it was so deep.
Been down so far I don’t get wet,
I haven’t touched the bottom yet.
This river scene is gettin’ old,
I’m hungry, sleepy, wet and cold.
She told me to forget it nice,
I should’ve taken her advice.
I only want to go on home,
I’d gladly leave that girl alone.
Wha-what a way to spend the night,
If I don’t drown, I’ll die of fright.
My pappy taught me how to float,
But I can’t swim a single note.
He threw me in to teach me how,
I stayed there floatin’ like a mama cow.
And now I’ve floated way down stream,
I know this has to be a dream.
If I could find my way to shore,
I’d never, never do this anymore.
I’ll give you three; I’ve been down nine,
I’m goin’ down just one more time.
Goin’ down
Ah dga, goin’ down
Dga goin’ down
Gah gah, goin’ down
I’m goin’ down
Go-go-go-goin’ down 
Back back back back home
Back back back home 
Back back back back home
Goin’ down
Goin’ down
I’m goin’ down
I’m goin’ back home
Back to my friends
Back to the one
Back to the truth
I’m goin’ home
Aahh

Now the sky is gettin’ light,
And everything will be all right.
Think I’ve finally got the knack,
Just floatin’ here lazy on my back.
I never really liked that town,
I think I’ll ride the river down.
Just movin’ slow and floatin’ free,
There’s a river swingin’ under me.
Waving back to the folks on shore,
I should have thought of this before.
I’m floatin’ on down to New Orleans,
Gonna pick up on some swingin’ scenes.
I’m gonna know me a better day,
I’ll go down groovin’ all the way.
Goin’ down A-ahh
Go-go-goin’ down

I’m goin’ down
Back back back to New Orleans
Back back back back home
I’m go-goin’ down
A-hep hep hep, hep
I’m goin’ on down
Hep, hep, hep, hep
I’m go-go-go-goin’ down
I’m goin’ down
Goin’ down
Go go
Auhh Hep, hep hep, hep
Hep, hep hep
Dga, dga dga, dga
Dga, dga dga, dga
Dga, dga dga, dga
Dga, dga dga
Got ta go
Got ta go
Got ta go back home
I’m goin’ down-down-down-down-down-down the river
Down-da-down-down-down the river, yeah
Gotta go gotta go
Gotta go gotta go
Down-nh-nh-nh
Hep, auh, hep, hep
(Fade out)

 

The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday

This song was written by Goffin and King about suburbia, The Monkees started to play their own instruments on the Headquarters. Pleasant Valley Sunday was released off the album and peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #11 in the UK and #1 in Canada in 1967.

The Monkees were hot in 1967. They outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Their show was on the air from 1966 to 1968. The opening guitar lick of this song was based off The Beatles “I Want To Tell You.”

I grew up with reruns of their show. They influenced at least a couple of generations of musicians. This song is a very good pop song.

From Songfacts

Guitarist Mike Nesmith and drummer Micky Dolenz handled the vocals on this track (Dolenz also sang on “I’m A Believer”). Peter Tork of The Monkees explained to Bruce Pollack in 1982: “A notion of mine that I was real pleased with took over at one point, and that was having two guys sing in unison rather than one guy doubling his own voice. So you’ve got Mike, who was really a hard-nosed character, and Micky, who’s a real baby face, and these two voices blended and lent each other qualities. It’s not two separate voices singing together, it’s really a melding of the two voices. Listening to that record later on was a joy.”

Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork both cited this as their favorite Monkees song in a 1997 interview with Mojo.

 

“Pleasant Valley Sunday”

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
They serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to careSee Mrs. Gray, she’s proud today
Because her roses are in bloom
And Mr. Green, he’s so serene
He’s got a TV in every room
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understandCreature comfort goals, they only numb my soul
And make it hard for me to see
(Ah ah ah) ah thoughts all seem to stray to places far away
I need a change of sceneryTa ta ta ta, ta ta ta ta
Ta ta ta ta, ta ta ta taAnother pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)