Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World!"

Your Subtitle text
Music Box Disc 3
Disc 3 - 1968

After two albums, a hectic summer tour, and a busy shooting schedule for their second series, The Monkees began to pursue their recording activities separately.  Ironically, these individually produced and recorded tracks all bore the same collective credit: “Produced by The Monkees.”  In reality, the first release made under this pact was not produced by a Monkee and, in fact, only featured one Monkee on it (Davy Jones).  Instead this single saw the return of Boyce & Hart, who reluctantly ventured back into the studio to recut the year-old “Valleri.”  “Valleri” became The Monkees’ last Top 10 single and final gold record.

Bobby Hart: “Lester Sill came back to us and said, ‘They want you to recut “Valleri,” but we can’t use the original track because the musicians union contracts were filed with you as producers, and you can’t have producer’s credit.  We want you to go back in and do it again, making it sound as close to the original as possible and not take producer’s credit on it.’  So, that’s what we did.”

Michael Nesmith’s “Tapioca Tundra” was, hands down, the strangest Monkees Top 40 hit.  As the charting flip side of “Valleri,” it speaks volumes about the band’s popularity that this off-kilter record soared as high as #34 on the Pop chart.  A musical meeting of “Winchester Cathedral”-like nostalgia coupled with lyrics that were just pure whimsy, the song sounds like a jam session with Tito Puente and The New Vaudeville Band.

Michael Nesmith: “I wonder if ‘Tapioca Tundra’ and ‘Daily Nightly’ came out of the same thing?  I have always enjoyed writing poetry.  Stand-alone poetry.  As a matter of fact, one of the ways I got into songwriting 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 these poems we were studying to music.  It was from there that I decided that I would enjoy writing poetry.  About the time that ‘Tapioca Tundra’ and ‘Daily Nightly’ came along, I had been writing my own poetry for a while.  I realized that I couldn’t continue to write pop tunes of the type that Neil Diamond, Goffin, King, and Boyce & Hart were writing.  I just thought that I probably ought to go ahead and put my own imprimatur on things and write those songs.  They had actually been poems that I had been writing for a long time on my own.  If they tend to be metaphorical and they tend to be more imaginative and complex, that was from poetry I was writing.  They weren’t really designed as songs at all.”

Davy Jones’ “Dream World” kicked off The Monkees’ fifth album, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.  The song was a collaboration with Steve Pitts and harkens back to Jones’ first recording sessions in early 1965.

Davy Jones: “Steve Pitts was a musician from Austin who was a friend of Mike Nesmith’s.  During the course of The Monkees’ filming Mike introduced a lot of people to us.  Steve Pitts and I sat down to write some tunes originally for the movie Head.  We also had written some other tunes during that particular session.  The idea of ‘Dream World’ was a bit of a cop-out – or a bit of a steal in a sense, not the song itself, but the idea.  I’d done a thing years before with Colpix Records, a song called ‘Dream Girl.’  I wanted to try to incorporate some of the violins and all that early-‘60s stuff on it.  We were very restricted to our studio time and budget availability.  Prior to that it had been Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Jeff Barry, and all the other people who had carte blanche with our money.  That was like our first try at going in and being a producer, which I would rarely attempt now.  It’s a really specialized thing, producing.”

“Auntie’s Municipal Court” is probably Nesmith’s most accessible offering included on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.  The song grew out of a studio jam in which Nesmith coupled one of his poems with some of guitar player Keith Allison’s improvised riffs.  Allison, best known as a latter-day member of Paul Revere & The Raiders, was another pre-Monkees buddy of Nesmith’s from Texas and had also notably appeared on some of Boyce & Hart’s early Monkees productions.  Keith later toured with Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart.

5. P.O. BOX 9847
Cut alongside the remake of “Valleri,” Boyce & Hart’s “P.O. Box 9847” had previously been a solo single for the duo (albeit a B-side).  While the song’s arrangement remained almost identical, the main difference between the releases was that Boyce & Hart’s solo single credited Monkees creator Bob Rafelson as cowriter of the song.

Bobby Hart: “It was Bob Rafelson’s idea to do a song about a classified ad.  He said, ‘I have a great idea for a song worded the way a classified ad would be in the abbreviated style.’  So we wrote ‘P.O. Box 9847’ and gave him a third of the song for his inspiration and original idea.  The powers that be would not let him have a writer’s credit.  I don’t know why.  I guess it was some sort of conflict of interest being producer on the show.  He never cashed his first royalty check, and they took his name off subsequently.”

Bill and John Chadwick’s “Zor And Zam” brought The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees album to an epochal close.  The song features a thunderous arrangement from Shorty Rogers, and the lyrics finally gave the group an overt antiwar anthem.  Sung and predominantly produced by Micky Dolenz, “Zor And Zam” was also featured in the final episode of The Monkees.

Micky Dolenz: “‘Zor And Zam’ was a great tune.  I remember hearing Bill Chadwick singing it at a party.  We used to hang out.  He was one of the sidekick/bodyguards/stand-ins.  I said, ‘God, wow, man I’d really like to do that song.’ So we brought it in, and we did it.”

Bill Chadwick (songwriter): “Originally my brother and I had written a treatment for a television series called The Friendship.  He was a former Disney animator, and it was to (have combined) live action and animation.  It was (a) very fantasy-oriented (story about) some guys sailing on a ship, and the ship went into a whirlpool. 

If you can imagine Yellow Submarine with live action and about three or four years earlier, that’s what the concept was.  ‘Zor And Zam’ was one of the songs in the pilot.  We never did anything with it.  We bogged down in the creative end.  I got involved with The Monkees and used the song there.  It was about two kings that gave a war, and nobody came.  We all had friends going off to Vietnam and nobody was happy about the way things were being handled.  Guys were going over there and weren’t getting any support.  If you’re not going to get support from your own country, why the hell should you go?”

7. CARLISLE WHEELING (First Recorded Version)
Michael Nesmith’s “Carlisle Wheeling” was an outtake from The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees sessions with a tortured history.  At least three versions of the song were cut between 1967 and 1968, yet none of them were deemed worthy of release.  During his solo sessions of the early ‘70s, Nesmith rerecorded the song under the title “Conversations,” but even this take did not satisfy the author.

Michael Nesmith: “I had tried several times (and) the problem was not in the recording; the problem was in the song.  Early in life as an artist, and certainly before The Monkees ever came along, I was casting about for native design keys – native meaning native to myself – that I could work in.  One of the ones that was most satisfying and very easy for me was delight.  Another one was whimsy, and they have served me well as I have gotten more and more into them.  The problem is, when you work in delight and whimsy, you are beset on all sides.  It is a razor-edge line to walk, and the foment is poignancy, sentimentality, maudlin, and all of the things that take those dandy little notions and just cast them into the worst elements of sentimentality and shallowness.

I’m afraid that as I was making an attempt to write this ‘Conversations’ song, I got knocked off the straight and narrow.  This was a song of reverie, and it was a song of retrospection and contemplation.  Those dynamics are just as subject to poignancy and sentimentality as anything else.  That’s what happened to this song, it just got cratered.  I started to torture the metaphors and torture the similes.  ‘The phoenix of our love’ – I mean, please.  We’re just right off into ‘Excuse-me land.’  All of us have got to do one of those, I suppose.  ‘So forgive me my dear if I seem preoccupied.’  I know that we’re both old and settled in now, and we don’t say much to each other, but that doesn’t mean that I still don’t love you.  Now, that’s a nice, sweet dynamic for a song.  Unfortunately, I managed to murder it pretty good.”(5)

Despite the fact that he was the first Monkee to break away and do his own thing in the studio, Peter Tork had the greatest trouble getting his songs accepted and completing his productions.  Countless takes of his “Lady’s Baby” and “The Merry Go Round Song” were made at dozens of sessions, but very few of his recordings were ever truly completed.  Tork soldiered on regardless, cutting beautiful songs with members of The Buffalo Springfield and future Jimi Hendrix sideman Buddy Miles.  One of his best from the era, “Tear The Top Right Off My Head” existed in numerous takes (including some with Micky on vocals).  Unfortunately, most of these tapes have long since disappeared, and we are archivally left with only a thumbnail sketch of what Tork was up to at that time.  The song’s title was derived from a popular expression among Tork’s friends.

Peter Tork: “It was an expression of how radical the feelings could get.  Obviously you know the expression dynamite: ‘Boy, it was dynamite,’ meaning it was great.  Everybody tries to top the last one.  ‘Boy, she really affected me.  Boy, she ripped my arms off.’  It was sort of au courant at the time.  It wasn’t exactly the most common expression, you know, but it really was on the street.  It worked around the chord changes.  The whole structure seemed to be in two parts.  There was this kind of quiet, normal, everyday pedestrian feel, and that was the first section.  Then (in) the blues section things are frying, the ends of your hair are sizzling, because something radical is happening here.  That was all the song was about.”

(First Recorded Version)
Neil Sedaka and Carole Bayer’s “The Girl I Left Behind Me” had been tried at the end of the More Of The Monkees sessions but was held by Kirshner for a future release.  The Monkees eventually got back to the song (or at least Davy Jones did) with a new take cut in late 1967.  For some unknown reason this new recording was held from release, too, and the production of this tune struggled on through more rerecordings.  Ultimately, a 1968 take found its way onto The Monkees seventh album, Instant Replay, in February 1969.  This box set contains the less common, but clearly superior, take from 1967.

Neil Sedaka: “There is a phrase I’ve come to hate over the years: ‘If not this album, the next album.’  I’ll explain that.  Don Kirshner heard ‘When Love Comes Knockin’ (At Your Door)’ and ‘The Girl I Left Behind,’ and he said, ‘Well, we’re going to put “When Love Comes Knockin’ (At Your Door)” on the album, but we’ll reserve “The Girl I Left Behind Me” for the next album.’  That has stuck with me through the years.  I was so discouraged because it was left off the album.  As a result I lost a lot of money.”

Michael Nesmith’s “Nine Times Blue” had been demoed as early as 1967’s Headquarters sessions, but it was not until the following year that he would get serious about recording a master version.  He had initially tried the song with full band including drums before later settling on the simpler guitar, bass, and vocal take included here.  Historically, this track marks the first recorded work of Red Rhodes (the late pedal steel virtuoso) with Michael Nesmith.  Rhodes would go on to play an integral musical role in Nesmith’s solo career.

Historical note: In July 1969 The Monkees made a guest appearance on The Johnny Carson Show.  Their segment included a live rendition of “Nine Times Blue,” which was introduced as a “song from our album.”  As it turned out, “Nine Times Blue” never appeared on a Monkees album at the time and was not released until 1987’s Missing Links.

Peter Tork produced this version of folk singer/songwriter Jo Mapes’ “Come On In” during early 1968.  The song has the aural quality of a Buffalo Springfield recording, and it was no doubt captured at an offshoot session with members of the band.  Although Tork produced songs of obvious quality, he was not represented at all on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees album.  This track eventually appeared on Missing Links, Volume Two.

Davy Jones: “There’s one song that Peter Tork sings on that Missing Links album where he sounds absolutely super.  He’s right on the button, and he wasn’t supposed to be a singer.  The other guys were always pushing him out.  He was being downtrodden by the studio in regards to his recordings, his playing, his songs, and everything else.  The guy was the salt of the earth, Peter Tork.  It wasn’t just Hare Krishna, waterbeds and brown rice.  That guy was a very, very accomplished musician.”

Leiber & Stoller’s “D.W. Washburn” was The Monkees’ seventh single release and final Top 40 chart placement of the ‘60s.  The song was suggested by Lester Sill and sounded not unlike a Coasters outtake from the ‘50s.  Ironically, The Coasters rushed out their own version in an attempt to beat The Monkees’ record to the punch.  Neither version was destined to succeed commercially because the song was hopelessly out of step with the times.

Lester Sill: “I loved the sound of the song – the demo that I heard.  Then I realized after we did it and it came out that it was really a downer.  It was a story about a guy in the gutter, about a bum.  I thought that there was kind of a comical, Dixieland feel to it that I felt was rather different.  In hindsight, I realized it was an awful mistake.”

Peter Tork: “Boy!  Originally, there was a black bass singer on the take.  Bert said, ‘Wait a minute.  It’s one thing to have Tommy and Bobby singing ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ in the background; it’s another to have a prominent black bass singer responding that way.’  The only thing about that song that was noticeable was that it’s Leiber-Stoller.  I imagine it was an old Leiber-Stoller tune from way, way back that nobody had done yet.  It sounds like middle Coasters, you know.  The thing about The Monkees project at the end was, I think basically Bert and Bob were running out of steam.  That’s what I think.  I think for some reason, somehow, they had had it.  They started off with a lot of enthusiasm, and I think the pressures brought them down.  I think Bert’s still reeling, to tell you the truth.”


“It’s Nice To Be With You” was the flip side of “D.W. Washburn,” and it tread on more familiar territory musically.  The song showed a respectable placing in the U.S. charts (#51), and in the Philippines (where other Davy Jones-sung songs like “Hard To Believe” and “We Were Made For Each Other” charted high) the song actually reached #1.  The song’s author, Jerry Goldstein, is a legendary writer, producer, and onetime member of the studio group The Strangeloves.

In June 1968 Michael Nesmith took a trip to Nashville to fish and record.  The recordings that he produced were another step in his pioneering journey as an architect of country-rock.  The song “St. Matthew” is actually better defined as cosmic country-rock, since it features an obscure set of lyrics filtered through the whirling effect of a Leslie speaker cabinet.  The song was inspired by Bob Dylan, whose own country-rock blend on the album Nashville Skyline was only months away.

Michael Nesmith: “The lyrics had been a poem that were laying around for a long time.  I had given (them) to a stack of different songwriters to see if they could write a melody.  The track just came out of a foolin’-around session with the band in Nashville.  Another attempt to marry country and rock.  It’s a song about Bob Dylan.  The ‘steal and kneel’ is a reference to ‘She Belongs To Me.’  ‘She will start out standing, proudly steal her anything she needs.  You will wind up peeking through a keyhole down upon your knees.’  The she in that is the ‘St. Matthew’ that I’m referring to, and the ‘St. Matthew’ that I’m referring to is biblical.  It refers to the biblical sense of the Holy Ghost as the central character in ‘She Belongs To Me.’  As I think about that song many times, and I have many times, I realize that it was prescient to his ‘born again’ phase.  ‘Cause I could see that what he was doing was wandering into the area of biblical representations of the Holy Ghost, and I was convinced at the time that he did not know that he was doing that.  It was interesting to me, so that was what the song was about.  But, you know, that’s so totally obscure that I didn’t ever expect anybody to understand it or try and communicate anything with it.  It was just a song, a little note that I wrote to myself in a way.”(6)

The mesmerizing “Porpoise Song” opened The Monkees’ movie, Head, in a psychedelic swirl of sound.  The song (subtitled “From Head – A New Motion Picture”) was written specifically for the project by songwriters Goffin & King, who perhaps also had Micky Dolenz in mind to sing the lead vocal.

Micky Dolenz: “I was told that by somebody.  If you listen to it, it’s about me committing suicide.  It was written for the movie.  It wasn’t a song that she pulled out of a drawer.  ‘Riding the backs of giraffes for laughs,’ I’m sure, was a reference to Circus Boy.  At least I was told that.”

Peter Tork: “I wouldn’t know a thing about it.  They made a decision to release ‘Porpoise Song’ from the album for the movie.  I think it was premature.  If they had released any of the others (first), then the ‘Porpoise Song’ would have been a good one to come back with.  In retrospect you can tell it wasn’t right.”


Carole King and Toni Stern’s “As We Go Along” provided a mellow acoustic counterpoint to the lush psychedelia of “Porpoise Song.”  The single release of “Porpoise Song” was a major chart disappointment, and its B-side, “As We Go Along,” received only minor airplay at the time, bubbling under the Hot 100 at #106.

Micky Dolenz: “That was a bitch to sing.  It was 5/4 time or some bizarre signature.  I had a lot of trouble picking it up.  Typically, we didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse this stuff.  We were filming.  I’d go in, and they’d play the song a few times.  I remember that was a tough song to sing, but I loved it.  I still love it.  It’s actually one of my favorites.”

Peter Tork: “Carole King was an astounding creature.  The ‘Porpoise Song’ is a great song, and I think ‘As We Go Along’ is even better.  Carole King could write with anybody.  She could write with Mike Nesmith, after all!”

Although “Porpoise Song” was labeled as the film’s theme song, Head’s anthem was surely the “Ditty Diego-War Chant.”  Recorded under the title “Movie Jingle,” this short satirical rewrite of “Theme From The Monkees” was penned by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson.  With lyrics about the group’s “manufactured image,” the recitation captured the real-life subplot of Head, which was to destroy The Monkees’ career as teen idols.  According to Nicholson biographer Patrick McGilligan, these destructive ploys were not restricted to the film’s sardonic script and jingle.  During production on Head, Bob Rafelson would attempt to dispirit group members via a subtle campaign of derision.  McGilligan notes, “…the director would put on an LP by more high voltage rockers, the Electric Flag or Neil Young, and bait (Davy) Jones with the comment, ‘That’s real rock ‘n’ roll, man!’”

18. CIRCLE SKY (Live)

Despite the producers’ efforts to divide the group, Head contained the band’s most assertive performance as a unit on Michael Nesmith’s “Circle Sky.”  A fierce rocker, the film featured a live version of the song from a May 1968 performance in Salt Lake City.

Michael Nesmith: “‘Circle Sky’ was a song that I wrote while I was in the band with The Monkees, thinking of what would be a good, simple, aggressive rock ‘n’ roll tune.  It was written around the concept of the band playing as a band.  A good example of it is ‘Hamilton smiling down,’ (which) refers to the name on the music stand that I was sitting in front of.  They were made up lyrics to represent a collage of the times of The Monkees playing as a band.  It’s one of the reasons it’s one of the best things that The Monkees do as a band.  Very simple, straight-ahead, power-trio stuff.”

Although the film itself contained this electrifying performance in full, the original soundtrack album substituted a less invigorating studio cut produced by Nesmith without the rest of the group in late 1967.

Michael Nesmith: “I don’t have any idea how that happened.  I think that The Monkees always played it better.  I can’t remember a studio version being better than the way we played it live.  ‘Cause live it was just pure unbridled energy.”

Historical note: The band later recut the song “Circle Sky” with some slightly altered lyrics for their 1997 Justus album.


Peter Tork made his most significant musical showing on a Monkees album with the Head soundtrack.  The first of Tork’s two songs from the set was “Can You Dig It.”  The song was inspired by his study of the Tao Te Ching and was originally recorded with Peter handling all the vocals.  When the song became part of the movie soundtrack, Micky took over as lead singer.

Peter Tork: “It was Bert’s (decision to have Micky sing lead) because it fell into the scheme they had for the song in the movie.  It’s right after Micky’s desert scene.  The first song Mike ever produced had Micky because Micky was the lead singer.  Neither Mike then, nor I later, thought twice about it.  Later on we thought, ‘We should do those ourselves because it’s our song.’  We didn’t have any of that proprietary interest until afterwards.  ‘Can You Dig It’ is about the Tao.  The hook line I wrote in my dressing room on the set.  The chords for the chorus I’d written in college and had just stuck with me. 
I hadn’t been able to do a thing with them until I was sittin’ writing on a scrap of paper with ideas, and I wrote, ‘Can you dig it/Do you know/Would you like to let it show.’  Those three as a triplet – as opposed to a couplet.  I just looked at them and (went), ‘Wow!’  I grabbed a pencil and circled those three.  They were part of a quatrain.  I said, ‘Wait a minute – no, this works best as a little three-line thing chorus there.’ 
I was very happy with myself.”(7)

20. DADDY’S SONG (Previously Unissued Long Version)
Davy Jones’ showpiece in Head is Harry Nilsson’s “Daddy’s Song.”  Lyrically, the song recalls Nilsson’s earlier “1941” (which had also been demoed for the group in March 1967).  Musically, the song is similar in style to “Cuddly Toy” and replaced an almost identical song by Bill Chadwick called “If You Have Time.”  Although “Daddy’s Song” was undoubtedly molded to suit Jones’ “Broadway rock” style, it was originally cut by Nesmith.

Peter Tork: “‘Daddy’s Song’ I thought was great.  I loved Harry Nilsson’s work; he did great stuff for us.  I was awfully sorry to hear him go.”

Historical note: Nilsson recorded his own version of “Daddy’s Song” for his RCA album Ariel Ballet.  However, the chances were so strong that “Daddy’s Song” would be a Monkees single that RCA (who manufactured and distributed The Monkees records) promptly deleted the song from Nilsson’s album.  As it turned out, no single of the song was forthcoming in this country, although Great Britain did issue the track as a single in place of “Porpoise Song.”

Tork’s “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again” was at one time part of The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees album.  However, this album went through a selection shake-up for reasons unknown, and Tork’s two cuts (the other being a spoken work called “Alvin”) were completely dropped.  When issued in remixed form on Head, the song became Peter’s last release with The Monkees.  Tork left the group after taping the television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee in late 1968.

Peter Tork: “Rafelson heard an acetate of all those tunes: ‘Can You Dig It,’ ‘Lady’s Baby,’ and I think a couple of others.  (He) picked those two for Head out of the blue.  I didn’t even think about the movie particularly.  I remember very well that the song just fell out of me one day.  I was just playing those chord changes on the guitar and opened my mouth, and that’s what popped out.  Once I had the first verse, the second verse followed the theme for the first verse.  The weird thing is that the song had been prophetic.  I had no idea that that was going to be my attitude about anything having to do with music when I wrote the song.  It just came out that way.  I wrote the lyric in London.”

The annotated Track-By-Track Notes can be found by clicking a tab on the left or by clicking here.
Website Builder