Andrew Hickey's Monkee Music, which examines The Monkees' catalog song by song, was originally published in 2011. A second edition of the book is now available. Andrew talked about the updated version and its new contents today on his blog:
My latest book is out — the revised and expanded second edition of Monkee Music. This is about twice as long as the original version and contains full essays on:
David Jones (1965 album)
All Mike and Micky’s pre-Monkees singles
The extra material on the deluxe and super deluxe editions of The Monkees, More of the Monkees, Instant Replay and the Monkees Present
The Dolenz, Jones, Boyce, and Hart album
The cast album to The Point!, starring Davy and Micky
and Good Times!
It also has shorter essays on the live albums or DVDs Summer 1967, Live Summer Tour, Concert in Japan, and Twentieth Anniversary Tour, as well as a round-up chapter looking at “Milkshake” (from Peter’s Stranger Things Have Happened album, featuring Mike and Micky) and the 1976 Christmas single.
On top of that, every essay that was already in there has been revised and updated, correcting things ranging from my understanding of why Pool It! ended up as it did to my persistent misspelling of Cynthia Weil’s surname, and expanding on what I’d said.
If you follow this books2read link you’ll be able to find it at your favourite digital store — and if you follow the Amazon link in that link you’ll find the paperback available there from tomorrow, too. Those of you who prefer hardbacks, there’s a hardback available at Lulu.com.
Michael A. Ventrella is the co-author of Long Title: Looking for the Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One. The Monkees Live Almanac would like to thank Michael for taking the time to talk about his new book, which is now available online and in book stores.
How did you first become interested in The Monkees?
When other kids wanted to be astronauts or firemen, I wanted to be a Monkee. I was around 8 when the show first appeared, and that’s a very influential time for a kid.
The TV show made me interested in music, and I dreamed of being in a band and having wacky adventures. I taught myself to play guitar and piano, and as I grew, I started various bands (playing bass). When in college, I had a band where we rented a house near campus and practiced in the basement, so that was as close to being a Monkee as I will ever be. Sadly, we never had any wacky adventures.
I later got into lots of other music (I’m a huge Beatles fan) but I never stopped loving the Monkees' music.
I was always more into the music than the TV show, though – I’m not one of those fans who has seen every episode a hundred times.
What years have you seen The Monkees in concert? Was there a particular tour that you call your favorite?
I sadly never saw them when I was younger. I saw Peter at a small club in Boston in the '80s. Micky and Davy did a free concert at the World Trade Center in the '90s (on my birthday so that was special!), and then I saw and met Micky at a Beatles convention about ten years ago. The reunion concert with Mike was wonderful because it emphasized the music, and then I saw Micky on his concert tour last year.
How did the book come about?
My co-author Mark Arnold writes about popular culture. I was interested in his work and had interviewed him for my blog a while ago. (The blog is at www.MichaelAVentrella.com.)
Mark had written a book where he went through every single Beatles song (including from various bootlegs) and gave a short personal comment about each song. I said to him, “We should write one about the Monkees!” and he agreed.
Then we paused. There already was a book like that about the Monkees – Andrew Hickey’s Monkee Music. And there was also Andrew Sandoval’s excellent Day-By-Day that had meticulous details about each song. So we decided against it.
Then I thought about it. I have half a dozen books where people go through the Beatles’ catalog and analyze their songs, so surely the Monkees could use another one.
We decided to do a book with a bit of both: We’d go through the songs and give some background information (the writer, which Monkees performed on the song, where it was first found, how well it did on the Billboard charts, interesting cover versions, etc.) as well as our personal comments about each song. A few people have complained that we didn’t give more trivia and details on every single song, but we didn’t want to copy Sandoval’s book or just cut-and-paste from Wikipedia.
By the way, Mark and I have never met – we live on opposite coasts. We did this book over Google Docs, talked about it through emails, and only spoke by phone a few weeks ago when we did a joint blog interview. Huzzah for the internet!
How does your approach differ from your co-writer’s?
Mark is more interested in the details – he likes noting where the song first was found on record and commenting on the Monkees’ history and so on. He wanted every single song listed, including the jams that only appear on the special extended version collections like Headquarters Sessions.
I come at it from a musician/songwriter angle. I insisted that the book be organized by recording dates instead of by album, because I wanted to analyze how the music progressed and changed over time. So my comments are often more about how the song was written and performed – what worked, what didn’t.
We were both determined to give our opinions and not sugar-coat anything. Some Monkees music is amazing and wonderful and deserving of every compliment we can give it, and some just sucks and should never have seen the light of day.
What kinds of things are in the book?
We had a lot of fun putting this together. We started by interviewing some prominent musicians to give their comments about the Monkees, and highlights of those interviews are included in the book. I got to interview Tommy James, Gene Cornish, Dean Friedman, and talked Howard Kaylan into writing the introduction. Mark spoke to Ron Dante, Peter Noone, Butch Patrick, and others.
Mark then wrote a short bio of the group. I wrote an essay about the music in general. Mark then compiled a list of every performance the Monkees had done as well as a list of every TV appearance (other than the original show) and we included those. We both did essays about how we became interested in the Monkees and what they mean to us which helps explain the views we later give about the songs.
I then went through every Billboard chart and made a listing of where every song and album performed on the chart week by week as well as a countdown of how well each had done.
Pop culture historian Jerry Beck (a big Monkees fan who worked on the Criterion DVD release of Head) then wrote the forward.
On our web page (https://monkees.wordpress.com), we asked for comments about the songs, and we picked a few we liked and included them in the book as well.
We then tackled the songs, one by one, giving details and our opinions. We also discuss each of the albums in turn (except the various greatest hits collections).
And the whole thing is illustrated on almost every other page with album covers, concert pictures, and more.
How did you come up with the title?
Originally, we were calling it “Long Title: Good Clean Fun; An Examination of the Monkees’ Songs, One by One” which I really liked because it flowed better. Then we discovered someone had self-published a Monkees book called “Good Clean Fun.”
So we had to come up with a new name. We almost considered “Writing Wrongs” but then we chose “Looking for the Good Times” because it references not only that particular song but also the album Good Times! as well as the songs “Good Times” and “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time)."
And, of course, “Long Title” is from Peter’s Head song “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?” I’ve had to explain that to a few non-Monkees people who asked me why we stuck that on there.
In doing your research, did you come to appreciate a particular Monkees song more than what you might have in the past? And, on the other hand, did you realize you liked any particular song a little less after closer examination?
I listened to “When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door)” with a bit more of an appreciation of how well written it is. It’s not one of their greatest, but there is a real talent behind it. I analyzed it a bit more than some of the other songs just to show how a songwriter approaches writing a song, and I hope readers can appreciate that.
I think some of the big hits became less impressive to me after listening in more detail for this book. “She” and “Mary, Mary” for instance really aren’t that good (especially compared to other Monkees hits). I think the fact that you always see these two on greatest hits collections probably says more about how often they were played on the show than anything else.
I think I started appreciating Mike’s songwriting ability more as I went through the catalog. I’m not much of a fan of his country stuff but I can’t deny it’s well-written.
A few readers have complained because they don’t like our opinions on one song or another. Well, of course -- Mark and I don’t agree on everything, so there’s no way readers will agree with us all the time! I think seeing us argue over certain songs makes the book a better read than if it had just been one person’s opinion.
Talk a little bit about the details in getting the book published. Was the publisher receptive from the start?
BearManor Media specializes in books about TV shows and old movies and such. They publish a lot of movie star bios and they’ve put out Mark’s books about Disney and Cracked magazine and cartoon studios and so on. He approached them and asked if they’d be willing to do a book about the Monkees but about their music instead of the TV show, and they were very enthusiastic, being Monkees fans. I think this is the first book they’ve done just about music.
They were wonderful, and more than patient with my many demands to make the book perfect. We went through quite a few edits and re-writes and redesigns.
And then there’s that great cover, drawn by Monkees fan and Emmy-Award winning artist Scott Shaw! He had worked with Rhino Records and had designed and drawn their Rhino mascot for years. In fact, he helped design two Monkees album covers for them!
So on his own, he decided to do a huge cover with characters from the TV show and Head and with references to the songs, too. (You can see Don Kirshner on the front cover holding up a contract while chewing bubble gum.) Part of the fun of the book for me is going through the cover and figuring out all the references. (There’s a list of them all in the back of the book if you want to cheat.)
Where can we get the book?
It’s available anywhere. You can order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or ask your local bookseller to order it for you. However, BearManor Media usually has it at a discount, so you might try there first. It’s available in hard cover, paperback, or as an eBook.
Any plans for a sequel?
Our dream is that the Monkees do a follow-up to the excellent Good Times! album so we can do a new version!
Monkeemania: The True Story of The Monkees was authored by Glenn A. Baker, Tom Czarnota, and Peter Hogan. Published in 1986 at the height of The Monkees' 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour, many fans (like me) who discovered the group on MTV that year inevitably purchased the first edition of the book:
Baker also produced and compiled the legendary 1979 compilation Monkeemania: 40 Timeless Hits.
The third edition of Monkeemania, pictured below, was published in 1997 with alternate front and rear covers:
You can now add another item to your Monkees holiday shopping list! The co-author of Long Title: Looking for the Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One, Michael A. Ventrella, has confirmed with the Live Almanac that it's scheduled to be published before the holidays by BearManor Media. Long Title, co-authored by Mark Arnold, provides commentary and analysis of The Monkees' recorded work and more. The Facebook page for the book has been releasing excerpts for fans, but Michael has been kind enough to provide the Live Almanac with some exclusive previews yet to be shared. Long Title is now available for pre-order, and don't forget to follow their Facebook page for future sneak peeks.
Long Title: Looking For The Good Times; Examining the Monkees Songs, One By One by Michael A. Ventrella and Mark Arnold, is now available for pre-order. A release date is not yet confirmed, but you can follow their Facebook page for further updates.
Recently, John at TwoMorrows Publishing shared with the Live Almanac an advance copy of their upcoming book, Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture, written and designed by Mark Voger. Available November 15, it includes an extensive section on The Monkees, featuring color photos and interviews with Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter. The whole book is a highly entertaining read for fans of both '60s pop culture and The Monkees. Pre-orders are now available through Amazon, and you can take a closer look inside at TwoMorrows Publishing.
Monkee Magic: A Book About a TV Show About a Band, is available from Amazon in both Kindle edition and paperback, and from Barnes & Noble. In it, author Melanie Mitchell (who also appears on the Zilch podcast) examines The Monkees' TV show, Head, and much more. Congratulations to Melanie for the milestone in sales!
The Monkees Tale, written by Eric Lefcowitz, was originally published in 1985. The first true book on the group, it has since been updated several times, most recently in 2013. An initial revised edition was published in 1989:
Fans of the resourceful Monkeesmixography website, which classified every Monkees song by mix/master/remaster, and more, are in for a treat. Craig Smith and Derek Miner have converted the online guide into a new book, Mixing Links: The Monkees on Disc. No release date has been announced, but for now, visit the project's website or join their group on Facebook.
Earlier this week, The Monkees Live Almanac reported about a new listing on Amazon for the long-awaited Monkees book by Gary Strobl, Henry Diltz, and Harvey Kubernik. Entitled The Monkees: From Reel to Real, the online retailer advertised a release date of September 18, 2017. The Live Almanac can now confirm that the book has been delayed to 2018.
Sophie, a representative from Omnibus Press (the publisher of Reel to Real) was highly enthused about the project while also explaining the postponement. "We're thrilled to be publishing this title," she told the Live Almanac. "The pub date is actually being put back so we can incorporate some new material. It's likely to be delayed until September of next year, though we may publish in the spring. It's going to be a truly beautiful thing, so I hope you'll forgive the new date!"
Be sure to stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac for further updates.
Gary Strobl is a lifelong Monkees fan and collector who has been compiling a book on The Monkees since 1983, conducting research and amassing numerous amounts of interviews through the years. Strobl, in collaboration with noted rock and Monkees photographer Henry Diltz, and journalist Harvey Kubernik, announced in May 2013 that a deal had been signed to publish their work. And now, it looks like Gary and company's long-awaited book on The Monkees will become a reality!
Amazon now shows a listing for The Monkees: From Reel to Real from Omnibus Press, with a release date of September 18, 2017. The online retailer provides the following description for the 496 page hardcover book:
In 1965 America launched its assault on The Beatles - a blueprint boy band called The Monkees who against all the odds triumphed with their music, their personalities and their zany half-hour TV shows. The quartet of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith spent three years in a blazing spotlight before disintegrating into a mess of recriminations and ill-feeling. With contributions from all the major players in the Monkees' saga - including the four Monkees themselves - Reel To Real is an oral history of the group that follows their adventures through to their eventual split. Along the way we learn how they came together, the background to their movie Head! and the financial chaos that loomed with the realization that the only ones who didn't make any money out of The Monkees were The Monkees themselves.
Thank you very much to Dan McKenzine for giving the heads-up to the Live Almanac about the Amazon listing. Stay tuned for more details!
Ann Moses was the editor of Tiger Beat from 1966–1972, writing countless stories about The Monkees during their heyday. Ann also acted as Hollywood Correspondent to Britain's New Musical Express from 1968-1971. She has published a book which is now available on her website, and you can preview it on Amazon.
British radio broadcaster (and co-founder of 7a Records) Iain Lee recently spoke to Ann on his radio show:
This episode of Headquarters is centered around Davy Jones and his 1987 autobiography, They Made a Monkee Out of Me. The special, hosted by Paris Stachtiaris and John Di Maio, begins with a multi-part interview with Alan Green, who assisted Davy in the publication of the book (as well as 1992's Mutant Monkees Meet The Masters of the Multimedia Manipulation Machine!). Green was also a member of Toast, the late '70s/early '80s group that backed Davy on the road during that period. Green talks about his relationship with Davy and the genesis of their partnership, Basil Foster, and recalls Toast on tour. From there Paris and John speak with Davy about the book, his experiences on Broadway, The Monkees' fallout with MTV, Pool It!, the making of the "Every Step of the Way" video, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, his 1988 solo album Incredible, Don Kirshner, Colpix Records, Head, and much, much more.
Please note that I've misplaced the opening of this episode of Headquarters which is why the program begins right away with Alan Green's interview. And, sprinkled throughout you'll hear two tracks from Incredible, "After Your Heart" and "Hippy Hippy Shake," along with "Rainbows" (written and recorded with Chip Douglas), as well as audio from Davy's late 1965 appearance on Ben Casey.
On April 28, Michael Nesmith appeared with D.A. Wallach in Santa Monica, California at an event sponsored by Live Talks Los Angeles to promote his new book, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff. Here's the official video footage of their discussion:
Peter Mills, author of The Monkees, Head, and the '60s, was recently contacted by none other than Bob Rafelson, who praised his work! (And it looks like Jack Nicholson is reading, too.) Jawbone Press, the publisher of the book, tweeted the following account earlier today:
Be sure to check out an excerpt from the book that was published on this blog last year.
UPDATED 8/6/2017 @ 4pm EST
People: Monkees Star Mike Nesmith Reveals All on Drugs, a Near-Crippling Illness, and Jack Nicholson 'Bromance' in New Memoir
The Inquisitr: Mike Nesmith And Jack Nicholson: Inside The Monkees Star's Ill-Fated Friendship And How It Came To A 'Head'
Red Dirt Report: A Monkee’s Life: A lattice of coincidence and a strange phone call from Johnny Cash
In a message posted today on Facebook, Michael talked about the audio version of Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff:
The book is indeed available to download at Penguin Random House and Audible. Listen to a sample below:
Michael Nesmith's book, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff, is now officially available! There are a variety of options when purchasing, including hardback and Kindle editions, at iTunes, and an audio download via Penguin Random House and Audible. Michael has previously published two novels: The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora (1998) and The America Gene (2009).
Advance praise for Infinite Tuesday has poured in, with both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post delivering positive reviews. This past weekend, NPR aired an exclusive interview with Nez, and on April 27, he will appear in Santa Monica, California to discuss the book.
Stay tuned for further announcements and other engagements related to Michael's new work, and click on the image below to browse the archives of the Live Almanac for all things Infinite Tuesday!
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