Archive for the The Monkees Category

Notes & Links

Posted in Loretta Lynn, Rob McNurlin, The Monkees, Todd Snider, youtube on March 13, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

*** Todd Snider’s new CD, The Excitement Plan, will come your way this June from Yep Roc Records. The full scoop on the album is over at Twang Nation (scroll down), but here’s the biggest thing you need to know. The album will feature a duet with none other than Loretta Lynn. It’s safe to say that I’m excited to hear their collaboration.

*** The evolution of No Depression continues. The stalwart Americana and Alt-Country (whatever that is) magazine ceased publication in its print form a few months ago and moved to an online only format. Last week, ND launched a new, community based website that seems designed to get readers more involved in the proceedings. Users can create their own profile and use it to upload photos and videos, participate in the forums, and even contribute their own blog posts to the site. There’s also a facebook-like feature that allows you “make friends” with other users. It’s still a relatively new undertaking, but something worth keeping an eye on.

*** A bit of sad news here… Former Monkee Peter Tork was recently diagnosed with a rare form of head and neck cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Tork underwent successful surgery last week and is now resting at home and preparing to begin radiation treatments. You should know that I hold a special affection for the music of The Monkees. Here’s hoping for a full and speedy recovery.

*** Had a comment and a couple of e-mails concerning my post on Rob McNurlin earlier this week… so I thought I’d give you another little taste of his music in this space. Here’s a youtube video of Rob with Dave Prince on guitar doing a song called “Deep Deep is the Blue.”

*** Since I already mentioned Loretta Lynn once in this post… I think I should also go ahead and mention that Saturday is Miss Loretta’s birthday. She was born in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Hollow (Holler), KY on March 14, 1934. Loretta is a hometown girl (Butcher Hollow is just outside the city limits of Paintsville, KY where I grew up) who made good. She had a ton of hits and caused more than a few controversies with her outspoken feminist lyrics in the 60’s and 70’s. Her success helped blaze the trail for every female country artist who followed. She is a Country Music Hall of Famer and truly one of the greats. Happy Birthday Loretta.

Loretta Lynn: Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) (Buy Album)
Loretta Lynn: You Ain’t Woman Enough (Buy Album)

Hidden Americana: The Monkees

Posted in Hidden Americana, Michael Nesmith, The Monkees on January 9, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

I’ve been working as an Americana DJ for the better part of the last decade now, and I’m always coming across new music that I’d love to share on my show (& now my blog). Most of this music comes from the usual sources and the usual suspects… but every now and then, I’ll find Americana music in the strangest of places.

Lots of times, artists who are not typically considered as Americana or Roots artists will release a song or an album that crosses over into our rootsy realm. I may not always be able to put these songs or artists into rotation at the radio station, but here I have a little more freedom to share what I want. With that in mind, I bring you “Hidden Americana” …Americana music found in unlikely places.

Today’s inaugural installment comes to us courtesy of “The Pre-Fab Four,” 1960’s television and pop stars, The Monkees and the group’s resident songwriter Michael Nesmith. Nesmith was the most vocal member of the group when it came to fighting for the members of the band to actually have input in the music. He viewed himself as a musicain first and an actor/pop icon second. It’s no surprise then that after leaving the Monkees in 1969, Nesmith went on to have a strong solo career. He even became one of the artists at the vanguard of the burgeoning County-Rock movement in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Most people who know Nesmith only from his time with The Monkees find it hard to belive that he could have really graduated from bubble gum pop to Cosmic American Music as he did. If you were really paying attention to the credits on those early Monkees albums, however, the clues were there from the start.

Just look at the songwriting credits for The Monkees’ first two albums, 1966’s The Monkees & 1967’s More of The Monkees. Most of the songs are written by certified hit makers such as Gerry Goffin, Carol King, Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, Carol Bayer Sager, Neil Sedaka… even Neil Diamond. There’s also at least one song on each album that was written solely by Nesmith. That’s quite a contribution for two records where most of the playing, writing, and production was handled by industry professionals rather than actual members of the band.

Nesmith’s main contribution to The Monkees was a song called “Papa Gene’s Blues” (he also co-wrote “Sweet Young Thing” with Goffin & King). Even as a kid who was swept up in The Monkees’ revival of the ’80s, I could tell there was something a little different about this track compared to the rest of the album. Ricky Nelson’s side man James Burton and his “magic fingers” provide a great rockabilly guitar solo, and infectious Tex-Mex percussive elements are sprinkled throughout. This is a jubilant and joyous song that has always been one of my favorite Monkees tracks.

One of Nesmith’s contributions (he also wrote “Mary Mary”) to the second album, More of the Monkees, follows a similar path. “The Kind of Girl I Could Love” is, lyrically, a simple love song. What sets it apart from the album’s other tracks, including smash hits “I’m a Believer” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” is the same thing that distinguished “Papa Gene’s Blues” …the music. While this will never be mistaken for a “Country” song, the guitar work on this track keeps the feel of a late night honky-tonk bubbling up near the surface. Once again… you can thank James Burton for that.

I’m also including one track from Nesmith’s solo career to illustrate the direction his music turned after leaving The Monkees. This track is called “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care)” and comes from the 1972 album Nevada Fighter.

The Monkees: Papa Gene’s Blues (Buy Album)
The Monkees: The Kind of Girl I Could Love (Buy Album)
Michael Nesmith: Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care) (Buy Album)