Top 10 Monkees Songs
The top Monkees songs demonstrate without a doubt that the band's music has more than stood the test of time over the 45 years since they first popped onto our TV sets. The Monkees' records were some of the best pop music of the 1960's and beyond, and if you want, we will argue that point till we're blue in the face! We dug deep and tried to choose wisely, so without further explanation, here's our list of the Top 10 Monkees Songs:
‘For Pete’s Sake’
Written by Peter Tork, this ode to the youth culture of the times — released just before the “summer of love” kicked in — was from the Monkees' third album 'Headquarters.' The record was the band's own creation and yes, that means the instruments were played by the group! It contained no hit singles, but still made it to No. 1, only to be toppled after one week by some album called 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band.' The album would sit in the Beatles' shadow at No. 2 for nearly three months. The song was also used as the closing theme for the group's television show's second season.
‘I’m Not Your Stepping Stone’
This is the first and certainly not the only track worthy of inclusion on a list of the top Monkees songs to come from the band's second album, 'More Of The Monkees.' Even though Paul Revere & The Raiders put it to vinyl first, The Monkees' version of this song remains the definitive rendition. Tough, snotty vocals from Mickey make this garage punk supreme, and if you don't think so, then you ain't no punk — you punk!
A Mike Nesmith barn burner from the 'Head' soundtrack. Used in the film with live performance footage — yes, once again with the Monkees actually playing their own instruments! — cut in with Vietnam war footage. Chilling stuff for a so-called “manufactured teen band.” Also of similar cultural note is a song called 'Mommy & Daddy', written by Dolenz in 1969, which features lyrics about Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination and drugs. Take that, Justin Beiber!
‘You And I’
Written by Davy Jones and Bill Chadwick, this gem was buried on their 1969 LP 'Instant Replay' and features a tough-as-nails guitar solo from none other than Neil Young. There are other Monkees tracks that feature Young as well as his Buffalo Springfield bandmates Stephen Stills and Dewey Martin. In fact, Peter Tork and Stills' friendship dates back to the early 60's when both were struggling folkies.
Another Nesmith original and a psychedelic masterpiece, this song's surreal poetic lyrics tell the tale of the Sunset Strip riots of 1966. The recording also features the first appearance of a Moog synthesizer — owned and played by Dolenz — on a pop record. Another song on the same album, 'Star Collector,' also featured the Moog as played by electronic music pioneer Paul Beaver, later of the duo Beaver & Krause.
‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’
This top Monkees track, co-written by Carole King is an ode to suburban complacency that made it to No. 3 on the charts. With a guitar riff to die for, and a production that makes the record blast out of the radio, it has remained a highlight of their catalog. Interesting thought: the guitar riff was supposedly a take on the Beatles' 'Paperback Writer.'
A Boyce & Hart gem (one of many) and another stellar performance from Jones. This song went through a couple different incarnations and was originally featured in episodes of the TV show during the first season, but this re-recorded take rode the charts to No. 3 in the winter of 1967. Note the stunning guitar work courtesy of session giant Louis Shelton. Footnote: for whatever reason, Mike Nesmith called 'Valleri' “the worst record ever made.” We beg to differ!
‘The Porpoise Song’
Quite simply one of the most beautiful records ever made. Written by King and Gerry Goffin, this surrealistic slice of psychedelia, beautifully sung by Dolenz (with Jones on the high harmonies), was the main theme from the 1968 movie 'Head.' Dolenz doesn't get nearly enough credit as one of the greatest vocalists in pop music!
Another No. 1 hit, this time circa 1967 from the album 'The Birds The Bees and the Monkees.' This features the sugar sweet vocals of the dearly departed Davy Jones. It was written by John Stewart, formerly of The Kingston Trio, and later of 'Gold' fame. What more can we say? Pure pop music rarely gets any better than this.
‘I’m A Believer’
Of course! What better end to a list of the top Monkees songs than their biggest and most enduring hit, which sat at No. 1 for seven weeks, and, along with 'Last Train To Clarksville,' is the song probably most identified with the group. It was written by a young Neil Diamond, but the group made it their own thanks to the dynamic vocals of Mickey Dolenz. It was the featured single from the band's second album 'More Of The Monkees,' which was one of the biggest selling pop/rock albums of the '60's, sitting atop the Billboard charts for 18 weeks!