Certain Songs #1193: The Monkees – “For Pete’s Sake”

Album: Headquarters
Year: 1967

Artistic freedom! Asked for and answered!!

Life comes at you fast when you’re at the top of the pop world, and on their third album in six months, The Monkees got what they’d been asking for from the start: the chance to write for and play on their own records. So they tossed Don Kirshner out on his ass, and with a core group of Mike Nesmith & Peter Tork on various guitars & keyboards, Mickey Dolenz on drums and Davy Jones on, let’s say, percussion, they set out to record their third album, Headquarters.

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Certain Songs #1192: The Monkees – “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”

Album: More of the Monkees
Year: 1966

Definitely the only song to ever have been covered by The Monkees and The Sex Pistols — though it woulda been fun to hear the Monkees take on “No Fun” or “Substitute” — the garage-y rave-up “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” was actually given by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart to proto-Monkees Paul Revere & The Raiders first.

But for some reason — probably because they were too busy churning out classics like “Just Like Me” and “Kicks” — The Raiders never released it as a single, so The Monkees recorded it, stuck it on the b-side of “I’m a Believer” and it became a hit on its own recognizance, making #20 on the U.S. charts and #1 in Canada, where the Monkees were even more popular than they were here in the States. Though not popular enough, I guess, for Rush to include any Monkees song on their all-1960s-covers album, Feedback.

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Certain Songs #1191: The Monkees – “I’m A Believer”

Album: More of the Monkees
Year: 1966

Written by Neil Diamond — you know, the guy who wrote “Kentucky Woman” for Deep Purple and “Red Red Wine” for UB40 — the first thing I need to report about “I’m A Believer” was that it kept future Certain Song “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” from hitting #1 at the end of 1966, something which young Jim might have been pissed off about had he cared about anything but singing “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” over and over and over again.

That’s Diamond on the acoustic rhythm guitar — it’s a good performance, I wonder whatever happened to that dude? — probably his way of making sure that his song-for-hire was in the right hands.

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Certain Songs #1190: The Monkees – “Last Train To Clarksville”

Album: The Monkees
Year: 1966

Over 50 years later, the authenticity debate rages on.

There are literally still people who care only that The Monkees were artificially created because a TV executive saw A Hard Day’s Night and exclaimed “hey, we gotta get us one of those!” I’m not one of them: I loved the TV show as a kid, and again as an adult, and the Monkees were perhaps the first example of an artist whose critical reputation grew as the people who loved them as kids became adults.

Not to mention, since we’ve gone into a more overtly pop-oriented era, those old debates seem, well, old.

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Certain Songs #1189: Molly Hatchet – “Flirtin’ With Disaster”

Album: Flirtin’ With Disaster
Year: 1979

After Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane went down, there was a but of a rush to fill the void left by Ronnie Van Zant’s death.

At first people people thought that maybe one of the bands of Ronnie’s brothers, Johnny & Donnie, might fill the hole. Not so much, as Johnny changed his band’s name, released a bunch of albums to squat until he just said fuck it and joined the reunited Skynyrd in 1987, and has now been with them three times as long as Ronnie was.

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