One of the highlights of The Monkees' 2012 tour was the inclusion of Michael Nesmith's song, "Tapioca Tundra," which appeared on the group's fifth album, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees, and was also the B-side to "Valleri" in 1968. On its own merit, "Tapioca Tundra" peaked at an impressive #34 on the Billboard chart that year.
In a recent interview with Goldmine magazine, Michael talked about the meaning of the song and how it ended up in the set list:
A highlight of those shows was your performance of "Tapioca Tundra," which was also a song you performed on your 2012 solo U.K. tour. It's a beautifully wacky song. What inspired it, and what led you to play this one live?
It was one of those "deep cuts" from a later album and had grown in approval and acceptance over the years, until the time when we decided to go on tour, and it had become one of the most requested songs for us to do. The song itself is about the moment when the performer realizes that the songs he/she sings belong to the people — the fans and the crowds — that love the song, and the performer is only there in service to that relationship. "It cannot be a part of me — for now its part of you."
Michael had the following to say about "Tapioca Tundra" in the liner notes of the 1994 CD release of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees:
"I have always enjoyed writing poetry – standalone poetry . . . As a matter of fact one of the ways I got into song-writing was to find poems and see if I could put them to music. I did that in high school and college – in English class I would set some of the poems we were studying to music. By the time that 'Tapioca Tundra' came along I had been writing my own poetry for a while. The poems tended to be fairly complex, because I realised I couldn’t continue to write pop tunes of the type that Neil Diamond, Gerry Goffin, Carole King, and Boyce and Hart were writing. I thought I probably ought to go ahead and put my own imprimatur on things."
Live in 2021