In an August 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Micky Dolenz spoke about The Monkees' first single and #1 hit, "Last Train to Clarksville":
"It's about a guy going off to war. Frankly, it's an anti-war song. It's about a guy going to Clarksville, Tennessee, which is an army base if I'm not mistaken. He's obviously been drafted and he says to his girlfriend, 'I don't know if I'm ever coming home.' Considering that it was a Monkees song and the first one, I was always surprised that the record company even released it unless it just went right over their head.
"I don't recall recording it because there was just so much going on at that time. I was recording two or three songs a night after filming the TV show all day. [Co-writer] Bobby Hart tells me I went in to sing one night. He says that I'd learned the song and routined it. We'd done the keys and all that stuff. There was a bridge part of that song. You know the bit where I go 'di da di di da di da?' Well, there were words to that. I said, 'Bobby, I just can't sing that.' I just couldn't learn it in time. He said okay. 'Well, we need to get it done so just go, 'di da di di da di da.'
"I have a very fond memory of hearing it on the radio for the first time on KHJ, a big station out here at the time. Davy [Jones] and I were renting a house up in the Hollywood Hills. We were pulling up to this big, beautiful rented house in Beverly Hills when they went, 'Here they are, the Monkees' 'Last Train to Clarksville.' We pulled over and just had the biggest grins on our faces."
The latest release from 7a Records features two long lost tracks by Davy Jones. "Rainbows" was written and produced by Chip Douglas (who was also at the helm for The Monkees' Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. LPs along with singles like "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Daydream Believer," and "Goin' Down") and recorded by Davy in 1981. The song has long circulated in tape trading circles of Monkees/Davy fans, but this single marks its first official release.
"You Don't Have To Be A Country Boy To Sing A Country Song" was written by Davy and Tommy Boyce (who co-wrote some of The Monkees' biggest hits with Bobby Hart) and appeared as the B-side to "(Hey Ra Ra Ra) Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse," the official theme song for the 50th birthday celebration of Mickey Mouse. That single was released by Warner Brothers in 1978 in England only, and neither side has ever been officially issued on compact disc or been made available digitally. 7a previously provided fans with a sneak preview of the A-side.
This release is available as a 7" red vinyl single, and only 500 copies have been pressed. Of note, after speaking with 7a co-founder Glenn Gretlund earlier this week, only 50 copies remain in their stock. Deep Discount had the best pricing option, but they are currently sold out! (Check back later, however, for ordering options.) There are still limited quantities available from Amazon. And for UK customers, Amazon UK has the single listed but it's currently out of stock. Clearly this item is in demand, so be sure to get your copy soon!
The ever dependable Ben Belmares has supplied the Live Almanac with scans of his copy of the single below. As always, Ben, thank you! And another thanks must go to both Iain Lee and Glenn Gretlund at 7a Records for working so hard to preserve the legacy of the works of the individual Monkees. Don't forget to follow 7a Records on Facebook and Twitter. And you can read more about 7a's past releases in the archives of the Live Almanac.
Intact in its original picture sleeve, the Rio 45 (PAC45-104) is straight from 1979. Nez has signed the sleeve's cover in gold ink to match the gold Pacific Arts seal on the accompanying numbered certificate of authenticity.
The first 10 orders will also receive a Rio sticker from 1979!
Only 175 are available. Sorry, no personalizations. Orders will begin to ship in late May.
Two long lost Davy Jones songs will be featured on the latest release by 7a Records. "Rainbows"/"You Don't Have To Be A Country Boy To Sing A Country Song" will arrive as a red 7" vinyl single on June 8 in the United Kingdom and a week later in the United States. Only 500 copies of the single are being pressed.
"Rainbows" was written and produced by Chip Douglas (who was also at the helm for The Monkees' Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. LPs along with singles like "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Daydream Believer," and "Goin' Down") and recorded by Davy in 1981. The song has long circulated in tape trading circles of Monkees/Davy fans, but this single will mark its first official release.
"You Don't Have To Be A Country Boy To Sing A Country Song" was written by Davy and Tommy Boyce (who co-wrote some of The Monkees' biggest hits with Bobby Hart) and appeared as the B-side to "(Hey Ra Ra Ra) Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse," the official theme song for the 50th birthday celebration of Mickey Mouse. That single was released by Warner Brothers in 1978 in England only, and neither side has ever been officially issued on compact disc or been made available digitally.
Here is the official press release courtesy of 7a Records co-founder, Iain Lee:
Before the start of their extensive tour across North America, Micky, Davy, and Michael were guests on Glen Campbell's variety show on February 5, 1969. The trio performed "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," and "Salesman" live and lip-synced "Tear Drop City" (their brand new single at the time) after a series of comedy sketches. The clip of "Tear Drop City" appears below. Check out Micky, Mike, and Davy's gear, too!
Here's two fan-made videos for both the slow and fast versions of "Me & Magdalena":
And, another fan-made video for "Birth of an Accidental Hipster":
The December 30, 1967 episode of the legendary American Bandstand (hosted by Dick Clark) looked back at the top songs of '67, including "I'm a Believer":
In an August 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Peter talked about The Monkees' third #1 single, 1967's "Daydream Believer":
"This comes from what I called the 'mixed-mode' period. The first one was the Don Kirshner mode where he oversaw the records and everything was under his control. Then we did Headquarters where it was just us. 'Mixed' was us and some pros in the studio. With 'Daydream Believer,' I was on the piano and I came up with this opening lick which I thought was just sparklingly original. When you play it today, everyone thinks of 'Daydream Believer.'
"What really makes the song work, I think, is the chord change on 'Jean' in 'Cheer up sleepy Jean.' It goes from a IV chord to a V chord to a III. That's a very unexpected and sweet chord change. It really grabs your attention. Then there's the line, 'What can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen.' It doesn't go right in your face, but when you think about it you figure it out. You're like, 'Okay, the guy is in a workaday world and he's got his head in the clouds. His girlfriend was a homecoming queen, but they're still scratching.' You don't get all that until you think about it for a long time.
"Davy sings this one, and he was such a talented guy, and a good actor. He was probably the best actor among us. He probably had the best musical mind, too. The best brain and maybe the best heart. "
The Monkees' last original single, "Oh My My," was released in April 1970. The group's fanbase had shrunk considerably by this time, and the song received limited airplay and suffered even worse sales figures. Debuting on the Billboard chart on June 6, 1970 at #99, it peaked at #98 the following week.
The Live Almanac broached this topic last year - what are your choices?
The music video for "Every Step of the Way," the second single from The Monkees' 1987 album, Pool It!, was filmed in a Los Angeles alley on October 9, 1987. It debuted on Nickelodeon's Nick Rocks video show on Friday, November 6, 1987.
Here's the video with Micky's live vocal for "Goin' Down" that was featured in the second season of The Monkees:
50 years ago today, The Monkees commenced work on "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Andrew Sandoval documented the June 10, 1967 session at RCA Hollywood, one day after The Monkees' triumphant concert performance at the Hollywood Bowl, in his book, The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the '60s TV Pop Sensation:
Gerry Goffin & Carole King's "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is one of Chip Douglas's most complex productions for The Monkees. Sadly, session tapes will not survive for this landmark date so it is impossible to follow this wonderful creation step-by-step. The basic track is most likely recorded with Chip Douglas and Eddie Hoh forming the rhythm section of bass and drums while Michael and Peter perform on electric guitar and piano. Union documents indicate Micky is also present for this session, and it is quite possible that he contributes some acoustic guitar to the track. Additional guitar overdubs will be recorded tomorrow.
Chip Douglas: "Mike played the lead guitar. That was my riff that I threw in there and taught to Mike. Not many guitar players can play it the right way. ... It's kind of an offshoot of the Beatles song 'I Want To Tell You' but in a different tempo and with different notes.
"I wish I could hear the original demo, because I can't recall if I got a [lyric] line right or not. It's in the bridge, 'creature comfort goals can only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see.' For 'make it hard for me to see,' for some reason I had the impression that I didn't do the right line in there, or changed it possibly. I couldn't understand that line, or something like that. One of those great mysteries.
"I do remember seeing Carole King up at the Screen Gems office from across the room after we did 'Pleasant Valley Sunday.' She kind of gave me this dirty look. I thought, 'Was it that line that I got wrong, perhaps? Or didn't she like the guitar intro?' It was faster, definitely, than the way she had done it. She had a more laidback way of doing stuff."
Michael Nesmith: "I remember that we went after the guitar sound. Everybody was trying to get that great big present guitar sound - Beatle [amplifiers] in the studio, playing really loud trying to get the sound, and it just ended up sounding kind of ... like it does. Kind of wooden. There was a tube-type of limiter/compressor called a UREI 1176, and boy you could really suck stuff out of the track. That was the first time that we really could do it. I think everybody got a little carried away with the 1176 on that record."
On June 11 and 13, 1967, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was treated to overdubs, including backing vocals from all four Monkees.
In a 1982 interview with Bruce Pollack, Peter Tork discussed the blending of Micky and Michael's voices throughout "Pleasant Valley Sunday":
"A notion of mine that I was really 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. "
"Pleasant Valley Sunday" was issued as Colgems single #1007 on July 10, 1967, right in the middle of The Monkees' ultra-successful summer tour that year. It was backed with "Words," written for the group by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The single is considered to be one of their most successful (certified Gold just four days after release), and it's worth noting that radio gave attention to both sides. As a result, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" peaked at #3 in Billboard while "Words" topped out at #11. The songs were later featured on The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.