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Music Box Disc 4
Disc 4 - 1969-96

After the departure of Tork and the commercial failure of Head, The Monkees returned to the public eye with a song that recalled their first hit “Last Train To Clarksville.”  The song was an older recording from 1966 that was remixed and significantly sped up for release.  In the end the single only boosted the group’s fortunes slightly, reaching a middling #56 on the Pop chart in February 1969.

Tommy Boyce: “That was the last Monkees hit, and it was one of the last songs we wrote for The Monkees.  I always thought that should have been more popular than it was, but the group were split up by then.  In fact, we also did it on a Boyce & Hart album.  We wrote that one day in the park.  We were walking down Lankershim Boulevard of all places.  We just sat down on a bench with the guitar and started playing this riff.  I think it was sort of like the riff to ‘She’s About A Mover.’”

Bobby Hart: “We were just experimenting along the lines of the seventh chord again, which The Beatles had used in several songs.  We thought there was room for another song besides ‘Clarksville’ using that seventh kind of progression.  They told us it was going to be a single, but it wasn’t our decision.  Things started changing after Peter quit.  They were putting out things that were already in the can.”


Goffin & King’s “A Man Without A Dream” was featured on the flip side of “Tear Drop City.”  The song marked the debut of Bones Howe as the group’s producer.  Howe had previously engineered and produced such groups as The Turtles, The Mamas & The Papas, The Association, and The 5th Dimension.  Despite his hitmaking history, the group’s relationship with Howe was relatively short-lived.  After producing two single sides and the songs for their television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, no further Howe productions were cut.

Bones Howe (producer): “What happened was all the guys were making records on their own, and they were looking for somebody to produce Davy.  So I did those two tracks with Davy: ‘Man Without A Dream’ and ‘Someday Man.’  I had a lot of records on the charts so that probably had something to do with it.  I went about it the same way I went about everything that I did at the time, which was looking for the best song for the artists I was working with.”

Davy Jones: “There was one guy I recorded with.  I did a song called ‘A Man Without A Dream’: ‘With the music of life my soul is out of tune,’ down in the range that I was supposed to be singing in – not where they had me singing all the time.  I’m a baritone, and I always have been.  I don’t understand why we were given so little thought and consideration along the line.”(8)

The band’s seventh album, Instant Replay, was a grab bag of tracks from various sessions dating between October 1966 and January 1969.  One of the best songs included is Boyce & Hart’s “Through The Looking Glass.”  The song had been recorded for More Of The Monkees then later recut for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.  After being bumped off both those albums, the song finally landed on Instant Replay, which was issued on February 15, 1969.

Tommy Boyce: “Boy, I always liked that song.  We always thought it should have been a single, but it kept getting pushed aside.  We decided one day to put horns on it, then we knew it should have been a single.  It was an imaginary song we wrote about a couple of girls we knew.  Sort of like an Alice In Wonderland-type of thing, you walk through the mirror – ‘Through The Looking Glass,’ going through this glass into a different world.”

Bobby Hart: “I don’t know if this was after The Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit.”  Seems like it has almost the same kind of idea of using Alice In Wonderland.  A psychedelic analogy.”

Michael Nesmith’s production of “I Won’t Be The Same Without Her” was yet another tape-vault nugget exhumed on Instant Replay.  This Goffin & King song was originally cut at the July 1966 session for “Sweet Young Thing” and was another product of their ill-fated partnership with Nesmith.  Coincidentally, “I Won’t Be The Same Without Her” also utilized the same high-hat pattern that was the trademark of Nesmith’s “You Just May Be The One.”  An early version of that song was also cut during this session.

One of the few fresh recordings on Instant Replay, “You And I” is a standout for several reasons.  The song features some searing guitar work from Neil Young, while its lyrics aptly summed up The Monkees’ precarious commercial fortunes.  The song was a collaboration between Davy Jones and Bill Chadwick.

Davy Jones: “It was just the old story.  All of a sudden we were being pushed under the mat because The Partridge Family and that crew were coming along.  We were just about to be moved aside, and they  were gonna go and spend their money somewhere else.  It’s such an unbelievably tragic shame , you know.  I’m sure they would have wished in the early ‘70s we would have croaked, and now we’d be folk heroes.  It didn’t work out that way.  We’re all still working.”

Bill Chadwick: “I originally wrote the lyrics.  It was kind of a poem to a friend.  We were both moving up in the entertainment business and realized that it’s not a lasting thing, to say the least.  One day you’re at the top, and the next day you’re at the bottom.  That’s what it was about.  Davy (and I) edited some of the lyrics together and created the melody and arrangement.  Davy was always great to work with because he wouldn’t work with somebody unless he had a lot of respect for them.”

Michael Nesmith’s solemn “While I Cry” is another of Instant Replay’s highlights.  The track was recorded over two sessions at RCA Victor Studio in Hollywood in early 1968 for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees.  Although it was mixed alongside his other tunes for that album, it is disputable as to whether “While I Cry” was really intended for the April 1968 long-player.  In early 1969, the song was remixed and sweetened by Nesmith and engineer Pete Abbott for release on Instant Replay.


Micky Dolenz’ grand production piece “Shorty Blackwell” grew out of a lyrical wordplay about his pet cat of the same name.  Reportedly, the other cryptic lyric lines refer to an unspecified member of the group (“He built a house upon a hill”) and the actual process of recordmaking (“Black and shiny, now you finally gotten everything you wanted, and you’re taunted by the power that you really don’t want anymore; everybody’s talking faster, hurry up, get me a master”).  The song’s mammoth orchestral arrangement was provided by another Shorty – famed jazz trumpeter and arranger, the late Shorty Rogers.

Micky Dolenz: “I liked Shorty Rogers.  We had a great time working together.  That was my little attempt to do ‘A Day In The Life’ or something.  Just me again being incredibly self-indulgent and writing about things that were happening in my life.  Shorty Blackwell was my cat.  My feeble attempt at something to do with Sgt. Pepper.”(9)

An altogether more straightforward version Nesmith’s country-rock was apparent on “If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again.”  The song was cowritten by Jack Keller, who had previously produced and written songs for the band’s early albums.  Nesmith’s version of this song was never originally released, and Keller later brought the song to Davy Jones, who produced an additional unreleased version in the 1970s.

Davy Jones’ mellow “Smile” was recorded in May 1968 alongside his Bill Chadwick collaboration “You And I.”  Chadwick and Jones produced this session together, which included a stellar crew of musicians.

Bill Chadwick: “Hal Blaine played drums, Max Bennett played bass, and Neil Young played lead guitar.  He was a personal friend of mine, and I wanted to hear his guitar sound.  I asked a couple of other people to try and play it, and I started thinking, Why the hell would I have somebody else play Neil’s sound when I can call Neil?  So I did.  That was the first session that Hal Blaine used roto-toms on.  In fact, when we walked in he said, ‘Wow, they’re here!’”

10. LISTEN TO THE BAND (Single Version)
The Monkees’ new “big band sound” (as carried forth on their tour with Sam & The Goodtimers) was highlighted on the April 1969 single “Listen To The Band.”  An intense horn-driven country rocker, the single was not the tremendous success that was hoped, but it still stands as one of The Monkees’ last great stabs at creativity.  The song’s anthem-like lyrics are often construed as a commentary on The Monkees’ musical plight, though Nesmith considers “Listen To The Band” to be more of an experiment in musical style and sensibility.

Michael Nesmith: “‘Listen To The Band’ was the architecture for country-rock…I guess it was the same embryo beating in me that was somewhere in Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Linda Ronstadt, and Neil Young – everybody who was hanging out in those times.  I could just feel this happening, that there was this thing.  So, I headed off to Nashville to see if I couldn’t get some of the Nashville country thing into rock ‘n’ roll or vice versa.  What I found out was that Nashville country was not the country that was going to be the basis of country-rock.  It was coming much more out of the Southern California scene.  So I ended up with a lot of Dobro, mandolin, and banjo and things which were hard-core mountain music stuff that really didn’t work, although ‘Listen To The Band’ worked pretty good.”

Recorded at the same session as “A Man Without A Dream,” Paul Williams and Roger Nichols’ “Someday Man” became Bones Howe’s second and final released production for The Monkees.  As a single it reached a disappointing #81 on the Pop chart in May 1969.  The song is mainly notable for being the first non-Screen Gems copyright the group were allowed to release.

Bones Howe: “They had always recorded songs either from Screen Gems, or they recorded their own material.  We were able to convince Colgems that we could do an outside song.  I guess it was because we looked around, and kept saying to them, ‘Find me another song that’ll knock this one out of the box.’  No one could find a song that everybody liked better.”

Davy Jones: “I went to them many, many times with Paul Williams’ tune.  Not because Three Dog Night were doing them and not because anybody else was doing them.  They were just great tunes, but they felt they were too sophisticated.  It was a bit complicated for The Monkees at the time.  Unfortunately, it never even got a showing.  I like the tune.  I like Paul Williams.  I thought Bones Howe was a bit busy.”

This version of Michael Nesmith’s “Some Of Shelly’s Blues” is another gem from his mid-‘68 Nashville sessions.  The song is probably best known for its cover versions from Linda Ronstadt’s Stone Poneys, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and a ‘70s Nesmith solo version.  Despite the song’s strong country bent, it was actually written in the early ‘60s when he was a struggling folkie.

Michael Nesmith: “That was out of the ‘Different Drum’ period, when I was playing with a guitar and harmonica.”

While Nesmith was exploring the greater realms of roots music, Micky Dolenz found a creative voice in reality-based songwriting.  Set to a “Randy Scouse Git”-like backing track, “Mommy And Daddy” is an astonishing list of questions that he wanted his preteen audience to ask their parents.  Touching on the plight of Native Americans and the hypocrisy of prescription drug use, the song was without equal for its shock value alone.  Despite its controversial and confrontational lyrics, “Mommy And Daddy” still managed to attract sporadic regional airplay.  In late September 1969, the song became The Monkees’ final charting B-side, bubbling under the Hot 100 at #109.

Micky Dolenz: “That was one of my favorites.  I was going through a period of social revelation.  I have a lot of Indian heritage, so that had something to do with it.  That was a period when everybody was writing protest songs.  I remember sitting there writing it in my little house up in Laurel Canyon on my mom’s old piano.  Making my little statement.  I’ve got to hand it to Mike.  Mike was the one that came out and said, ‘Micky, you should start writing and putting your stuff on these albums.’  He was doing it also so that I would support him in his fight.  He said, ‘Put it on.’  I said, ‘Well, I don’t write.’  He said, ‘Just write anything.  Do it, we’ll help you.’  He was very supportive.”

Peter Tork: “‘Mommy And Daddy’ was a real interesting song.  I’m not sure that I think it goes in quite the right direction musically, but (there are) some really interesting bits on it.”

Historical note: The single release of “Mommy And Daddy” featured Dolenz’s second-draft lyrics.  His first set didn’t get past Lester Sill, though the outtake version eventually made part of the CD reissue of The Monkees Present.

Micky Dolenz: “I often wondered what happened to that version.  Lester Sill said, ‘Micky, you cannot do this.’  I really wanted to put that out.”

After the positive response to “Listen To The Band,” another Nesmith Nashville track was pulled as a follow-up single.  “Good Clean Fun” is even more country-influenced and perhaps even less accessible.  With no mention of the song’s title anywhere in the song’s lyrics, it was impossible to call in and request for radio, and even harder to ask for by name in a record store.  Needless to say, it was not a big seller.  Two weeks after its release, “Good Clean Fun” slid onto the charts for a mere five weeks, eventually reaching #82.

Michael Nesmith: “That was a direct insult to a songwriter publisher who had told me that in order to have successful tunes I had to write music that was good, clean fun and that had a recurring theme or hook line.  Of course, I just rejected that out of hand.  (I thought) OK, I’ll write a song called ‘Good Clean Fun.’  I just won’t put it in there anywhere.  That’s poetic license.  It happens to be studied.  It’s not natural to me.  I think, Hmm, I wonder what obscure piece of business I can put on this sucker.  It has to do with being contrary and perverse.  In some instances that’s why I do that.”

The Monkees’ eighth album, The Monkees Present, is similar to Instant Replay in that it features a hodgepodge of tracks from sessions between 1966 and 1969.  The results are predictably mixed, though some good tracks were featured on the set.  One of these is Boyce & Hart’s “Looking For The Good Times,” a song taped at the same session as “Tear Drop City” in October 1966.

As the ‘60s drew to a close, The Monkees decreased in number once again when Michael Nesmith left to start The First National Band.  Meanwhile, CBS had begun running the TV series in reruns for the Saturday-morning cartoon audience.  Interestingly, these reruns featured the show’s romps redubbed with newer material in an effort to update The Monkees’ image and promote their newer releases.  In addition to some older outtakes that were finally utilized on these shows, a brand-new song called “Steam Engine” (which was written and produced by Chip Douglas) popped up in a few broadcasts.  Unfortunately, the song’s big production amounted to an even bigger studio bill, and when Screen Gems heard it was going to have to pay $5000 for one finished song, they refused.  Ultimately, they ended up splitting the costs with Douglas, but never got around to issuing the song on record.

Chip Douglas: “That was the famous session where I had to pay for half of it, ‘cause it cost so much money.  Which later worked out pretty well because it gave me a start on a publishing company.  Lester Sill called me up and said they’d never had a contract signed on it.  I said, ‘Well, since you guys made me pay for half of it, we’ll split the publishing.’  It’s a strange song; you know, it’s sort of embarrassing looking back on it.  I had this strange little fantasy of a guy chasing a train that his girlfriend is on.  I don’t know what got me thinking of it.  It’s just something that popped into my head.  I like mechanical things.  I never went riding on any trains or anything, but I grew up with them.  On the plantation where I grew up (in Hawaii), there were always these little steam trains that would carry the cane from the fields into the mill.  I guess that might have had something to do with it.  Actually, it’s incomplete.  It has a third verse that I never wrote until I was requested to get a lead sheet to Screen Gems.”


Boyce & Hart’s “I Never Thought It Peculiar” also turned up on a Saturday-morning rerun soundtrack.  However, unlike “Steam Engine,” this song was released.  It was a last-minute addition to the group’s 1970 long-player Changes, though the song itself dated back to the prolific 1966 More Of The Monkees sessions.

Tommy Boyce: “That was kind of an English-oriented song.  In the middle we decided to put a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo in there just for fun.  We just sort of did what we felt in those days.  We liked to experiment a lot.  If we like it, we figured maybe other people might like it.  I always thought that should have been a single.”

Micky Dolenz’s “Midnight Train” had been demoed all the way back in early 1967 at a session for Headquarters.  Nevertheless, Dolenz didn’t get around to making a full-fledged version of the song until July 1969.  “Midnight Train” was another Saturday-morning favorite that slid onto Changes at the last minute.

Micky Dolenz: “I must have written that when I was like 16 years old or so.  My sister Coco and I used to sing together, not so much professionally, we just used to sing.  When The Monkees came around a few years later I recorded that, and she sang on the record.  There’s not any inspiration so to speak, an event or anything, it’s just that I grew up on a diet of the Kingston Trio and people like that.  I used to have little folk-guitar groups and sing when I was younger, so that’s where that came from.”

19. OH MY MY
As The Monkees crept into 1970, only Davy and Micky remained, and enthusiasm from Screen Gems to make more records was waning.  They sent the duo to New York City in February 1970 to make a quickie album with Jeff Barry.  At the time, Barry was making literally three or four records at once, and the individual creativity of Micky and Davy as performers was not a high priority.  The results were respectable, if uninspired.  The hardest-hitting track from the sessions, “Oh My My,” was issued as a single but reached only #98, despite the fact that it was accompanied by an early music video.

Micky Dolenz: “That was my idea.  That was my first music video that I produced and directed along with this cameraman.  It was my idea to have horses and motorcycles and the similarities between.  (A) ‘ride that steel pony’ kind of thing.  I haven’t seen that in years.  That was when I was starting to get into production.  Ricky Cooper shot some stuff and I was shooting stuff with my little 16-mm.”

Davy Jones: “That was an effort to do something that was Monkee-esque.  I think we had a $3000 budget.  (We) rode our motorbikes around the desert and along the roads.  We just tried to put together something general.  We didn’t go into the elaborate video situation that they do now.  It was all they wanted us to do.  They were winding us down.”


Jeff Barry and Andy Kim both wrote “Oh My My” and its flip side, “I Love You Better.”  Davy contends these songs were merely backing tracks for another unfinished project that Jeff Barry had The Monkees randomly dub their voices onto.

Davy Jones: “That was Andy Kim and Jeff Barry doing an Andy Kim album.  Andy Kim couldn’t get it sold, so they took his voice off it, and they put us on it.  That’s how that came about.  That was such a con.  That was a way of keeping Micky Dolenz and I out of the studio so they could sell Partridge Family albums.  I have very bad memories about that trip to New York.”

Despite Davy’s criticisms, he turns in a fine vocal performance on Jeff Barry and Andy Kim’s “Do You Feel It Too?”  This song, like several others from the Changes album, briefly found its way onto the soundtrack of the Saturday-morning reruns.  Nonetheless, this added promotion did little to boost the album chartwise.  In fact, Changes was the first Monkees album to entirely miss the Billboard Album chart, though it would finally chart when it was reissued on vinyl by Rhino Records in 1986.

22. DO IT IN THE NAME OF LOVE – Micky Dolenz & Davy Jones
The Monkees made one last trip into the recording studio during 1970.  A session in September produced just two songs, the results of which were issued as a single on the Bell label under the name of Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones.  The A-side was Bobby Bloom and Neil Goldberg’s “Do It In The Name Of Love.”

23. THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW – Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork
Miraculously, The Monkees returned in 1986 with a sold-out tour, reruns of their series on MTV, and some new recordings.  Technically these new tracks featured only Micky on lead vocals, with a small amount of participation from Peter.  Michael was not active in the 1986 reunion, and Davy refused to be involved in the recordings based on some ill feelings toward Arista Records.  The recording sessions went ahead regardless and produced three new tunes for a best-of album called Then & Now.  Vance Brescia’s “That Was Then, This Is Now” (which gave the album its title) was pulled as a single and became The Monkees’ first Top 20 hit since “D.W. Washburn” 18 years earlier.

Micky Dolenz: “When they found out we were going on tour they came to us individually.  They said, ‘Do you want to record new songs?  We’re putting together a compilation album, and we want four new tunes on it.’  I thought it was a marvelous opportunity.  In fact, I think they approached me before I even started rehearsals.  I thought it was a done deal.  I said, ‘I’ll want more money.’  They said, ‘Fine, we’ll renegotiate on the new tunes.’  Then I heard as time went on that Davy wasn’t making a deal.  He wasn’t returning phone calls.  He was having a real big problem.  Peter was also.  He said, ‘I don’t like this song’ – the same old stuff.  I certainly wasn’t going to put the kibosh on the deal because of Peter’s problems or Davy’s.  That wouldn’t have been right.  Indeed Peter showed up at the session only out of my badgering.  Davy never even showed up.  Basically he couldn’t make a deal for whatever reasons, and I did the songs.”

Davy, Peter, and Micky all participated in the group’s next official recording project: the 1987 album, Pool It!  However, with extensive tour rehearsal obligations on deck, their participation was limited to a vocal-only role on most of the tracks.  Perhaps the best recording from the project is “Heart And Soul,” a song hand-picked by producer Roger Bechirian.  As a single it became a minor chart hit in September 1987, though it was hindered by a lack of MTV exposure as well as a competing chart song of the same title.

Peter Tork: “That was a very good album.  Bechirian did a great job.  Basically everything was solid and locked in the groove, and you really had the sense of being in the hands of a master.  It may not have been genius, but it was very, very good.”

25. MGBGT (Live)
Peter Tork scored the flip side of “Heart And Soul” with a song about his beloved car “MGBGT.”  The track came from a live performance by the band and was not included on Pool It!

26. EVERY STEP OF THE WAY (Single Version)
The second single from Pool It! was Ian Hunter and Mark Clarke’s “Every Step Of The Way.”  Hunter was a former member of Mott The Hoople and had recorded the song for his 1983 solo album, All Of The Good Ones Are Taken.  Mark Clarke was the bassist with the band Colosseum and later toured with various ensembles, including The Monkees.  The single version was specially remixed for release but did not chart.


All four Monkees were present to record their final album as a group: Justus.  This 1996 collection was entirely written, performed, and produced by Mike, Micky, Peter, and Davy a la Headquarters.  Davy Jones brought several excellent songs to the project, and his “Oh, What A Night” is a good example of the maturation of his songwriting talent.  The track is highlighted by a great vocal harmony sound from the group. Unlike their previous reunion recordings (and some of their ‘60s efforts), The Monkees freely contributed vocals to one another’s songs for Justus.


Another of the album’s highlights is Micky and Davy’s “You And I.”  Originally, a dirgelike version of this song had appeared on 1976’s Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart album.  The much-improved Justus remake is a refreshing lyrical reaffirmation of friendship for The Monkees as a group.  Musically, the song is notable for some of Peter’s best bass playing on record as well as the welcome return of Nesmith’s Gretsch 12-string guitar.

Micky Dolenz: “Davy and I wrote it on the freeway coming back from a show (with) Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart at Knott’s Berry Farm.  It’s one of the finest songs I’ve ever written, I think.  I mean, it is really a together tune.”

– Andrew Sandoval    

Lyric reprints:
(1) “I Wanna Be Free” (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart) © 1966 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc.     (BMI)
(2) “No Time” (Hank Cicalo) © 1967 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)
(3) “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) © 1967 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc.     (BMI)
(4) “Daydream Believer” (John Stewart) © 1967 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)
(5) “Carlisle Wheeling” (Michael Nesmith) © 1968 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)
(6) “St. Matthew” (Michael Nesmith) © 1991 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)
(7) “Can You Dig It” (Peter Tork) © 1969 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)
(8) “A Man Without A Dream” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) © 1965 Screen Gems-EMI Music     Inc. (BMI)
(9) “Shorty Blackwell” (Micky Dolenz) © 1969 Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. (BMI)

All Songs Copyright Renewed.  All Rights Reserved.  International Copyright Secured.
Used by Permission.

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