In a 2002 interview with Mojo magazine, Micky Dolenz discussed the significance of the 'black box' in the movie Head. "...About us as individuals getting stuck in this black box, which was a metaphor for The Monkees. We used to talk about being in a black box all the time. When we were on tour, especially - but even being on the TV set. We couldn't leave a room or hotel. We were shuffled around from limo to hotel room to limo to the back entrance of a concert arena in a dressing room. It was even a little black box on-stage because we used to jump out of these fake Vox amps. So for more than two years, we lived - literally - in a little black box."
"War Games" was composed by Davy Jones and Steve Pitts and was originally considered for inclusion on the soundtrack of The Monkees' 1968 feature film, Head. Pitts was a friend of Michael Nesmith's from Texas, and Nez introduced the pair to each other in late 1966. They eventually entered into a songwriting partnership, composing such tracks as "Dream World," "The Poster," "Smile," "Party," "I'm Gonna Try," and "Changes" (another song that was floated for Head, and at the time of its recording, the name of the film).
Two versions of "War Games" exist. The first was recorded in January 1968 under the supervision of Nesmith. Present at the initial sessions were Michael, Davy, Steve, and Bob Rafelson, who offered the visual image he was getting while hearing the track being produced. "It sounds to me like four spade chicks all dressed in American flags and all wigglin' their asses at the same time, goin' down the street," reported Andrew Sandoval in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation, after listening to the session tapes. "You dig what I mean? If you just start thinkin' on that, it sounds awful good." Nez replied with some hesitation. "Thanks Bob. That's very groovy. That's what we are playin', right?"
Sandoval discussed the first version of "War Games" in the liner notes of Rhino's 2010 deluxe edition release of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
(Sandoval notes in his book that Michael most likely overdubbed the Hammond organ part at a future recording session.)
In February 1968, Davy went back into the studio with Lester Sill and Shorty Rogers and remade "War Games" in a slower arrangement with horns and strings:
"War Games" wouldn't be heard until version 2 appeared on 1987's Missing Links. Version 1 would make its debut on the 2010 deluxe edition of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.
Go ahead and take a moment to vote in the poll below to show your preference between the two versions of the song:
I'm adding a new category to the blog sidebar called "News & Headlines." This will allow everyone to have all the latest information about The Monkees, their individual activities, and more in one quick, easy access location. You can, of course, still find headlines on the front page.
Don't forget that the categories list also includes links for "2017 Appearances" and "Current Tour Dates."
On another note, I've got a few irons in the fire for the site. I have yet to finish the tour summary for the 2015 concerts - 50th Anniversary activities certainly slowed me down on that front! And this summer, I hope to have the essay completed for last year's 50th Anniversary Tour.
Any other ideas or suggestions? Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment. Have a great weekend!
Check out the Henry Diltz photograph of Micky Dolenz in a helmet at a San Diego amusement park in February 1970. Photos from that particular session were later used on the back cover of The Monkees' final original album, Changes, in 1970.
Micky, Davy, and Michael were filming a commercial for Kool-Aid at the amusement park as the company sponsored The Monkees television series when it began reruns in 1969:
Today in 2016, The Monkees' lead single and video from their Top 20 album, Good Times!, was premiered on Rolling Stone magazine's website.
At the time of its release, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, who composed the song, talked about The Monkees' influence on his career:
Nez also celebrated the release of "She Makes Me Laugh" with this post on Facebook on April 28, 2016:
Last evening, Michael Nesmith appeared in Santa Monica, California at an event sponsored by Live Talks Los Angeles to promote his new book, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff. The session was hosted by D.A. Wallach, and Michael also signed books for attendees. A big thanks to Jeff Gehringer who submitted this report to the Live Almanac:
"What a wonderful evening at the Moss Center. Great to hear intelligent conversation with no mention of Liquid Paper! The extended Monkees family were on hand: Andrew Sandoval, Gary Strobl, Henry Diltz, Christian Nesmith, Circe Link, Rodney Bingenheimer, and John Hughes. I got a laugh from John when I asked him to sign the new Nez CD (he produced the set). Once the evening began, the session was funny and interesting. We loved his candid responses. The stories about getting high in Ojai [while writing the script for Head], asking Hendrix how to play 'Purple Haze,' and John Lennon soliciting Mike's thoughts about an unfinished recording of 'Sgt. Pepper,' were hilarious. The audience of 700 loved it. The book signing went quickly, too. Thanks Mike, for sharing your evening with us. I can't wait to see your next step."
Here's another photo taken while Michael was discussing The Monkees and Jimi Hendrix:
Live Talks Los Angeles has posted a gallery of photos from the event on their Facebook page (click the image below to visit):
In the era before DVDs and Blu-ray, Rhino Records released a limited edition (and numbered) 21-tape box set of The Monkees TV series in October 1995. Co-produced by Andrew Sandoval and featuring a packaging design made to look like a vintage television set, the box included the original 58 episodes along with the unaired version of the pilot, and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.
The collection was reissued in 1997 without the collectible watch that was included in the original release, and the boxes were not individually numbered:
DVD sets of both Season 1 and Season 2 appeared in the early 2000s. The series debuted on Blu-ray (with a bevy of bonus material) in 2016, just in time to celebrate The Monkees' 50th Anniversary.
To view the complete contents of the 1995 VHS box and to read the liner notes from its 48-page booklet, be sure to visit Monkee45s.net.
UPDATED 8/6/2017 @ 4pm EST
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Dolenz sings Nesmith