When "Someday Man"/"Listen to the Band" was issued as a single on April 15, 1969, "Someday Man" (written by Paul Williams and produced by Bones Howe) was the designated A-side and the song that was being pushed for airplay. Events would quickly change that altered the course of The Monkees' second post-Peter Tork single in 1969.
Shortly after its release, Micky, Davy, and Michael performed both sides live (along with "I'm a Believer") on The Joey Bishop Show on April 24, 1969. For this appearance the trio were supported by Sam & The Goodtimers, The Monkees' backing band throughout their 1969 concert tour.
In short time many DJs decided that they preferred the B-side, Michael's own "Listen to the Band," and started to give it more airplay. As a result, a second picture sleeve was produced by Colgems designating it as the A-side.
Despite the artistic merit of both tracks, the single's performance with the record buying public was more than underwhelming. By 1969 the popularity of The Monkees had waned, and each side of the single languished on the Billboard charts. "Someday Man" placed for just three weeks, peaking at #81 on May 17, 1969. "Listen to the Band," however, proved to have more staying power, charting for 9 weeks and peaking at #63 on July 19, 1969.
Both "Listen to the Band" and "Someday Man" were mainstays in the set list on the 1969 North American Tour, and "Listen to the Band" has been played during every Monkees tour since the group reunited in 1986. "Someday Man," however, was not performed live again by The Monkees until 2011.
Today, "Listen to the Band" is considered one of The Monkees' most enduring songs, having become an anthem of sorts for the group over time. In a 1997 interview with the British publication Melody Maker, Michael Nesmith expressed his fondness for the song.
"We [The Monkees] were off the air and it was right at the end of everything when I delivered that record and everyone said, 'No, that is not a Monkees song. This won't work.' But, much to my satisfaction, it's proved to be one of our most enduring songs. I think I was able to get everything I wanted to say about The Monkees into it. And I love the way the music recurs, the way it rolls around on itself again so it can be played over and over and over."
Nez also offered his interpretation of the song and its lyrics:
"Well, it says, 'Plays a song and no-one listens.' That's the phrase that really says it and it's able to crystallize, still, everything I was feeling at that time. It's 'He plays a song and no-one listens, I need help, I'm falling again.' It's the feeling of falling backwards into this thing of nobody getting it. But it's also, 'Play the drums a little bit louder, tell me I can live without her,' so the only thing that's going to give me comfort here is what I'm doing. It takes the spirit of the idea and really conveys it and that's what makes me the most proud. I'd love to hear someone cover that song. I don't know who could."
An Evening With The Monkees 2020