On this day in music history: December 4, 1965 - “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)” by The Byrds hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Pete Seeger, it is the second number one single for the Los Angeles, CA based folk/rock band. Legendary folk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger will write the song in 1959 and records his own version of it in 1962. The lyrics are adapted verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes in The Bible, giving the song the unique distinction of holding the record for being the number one hit with the oldest lyrics. Produced by Terry Melcher (The Rip Chords, the son of actress Doris Day), The Byrds version will be recorded over five days in September 1965, taking 78 takes to complete the final master. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on October 23, 1965, it will climb to the top of the chart six weeks later. During its time on the charts and after, the song will become an anthem of the peace and anti-war movements in the US and abroad. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001.
As longtime DM readers know, my Monkees fandom is not casual. It runs pretty deep. So it came as quite a surprise to me to find out that not only was there a box set of their 1969 Instant Replay album, it came out a long time ago. There’s even been a subsequent box set and I hadn’t heard of that one, either. I’m also friends with Andrew Sandoval, the ace producer behind all the amazing and lovingly compiled Monkees’ releases. How this slipped past me is a mystery, but thanks to Jason Elzy at Rhino, I have now been enlightened (which is to say fab Jason sent me one recently).I could go on about what a great package the Instant Replay box is—it’s quite good as these things go with a clear plastic “window” overlay on the front of the box which is the same size as a 45rpm record (two are included in the set), three CDs with TONS of unreleased Monkees material and Andrew Sandoval’s always superb liner notes—but what I want to concentrate on is what a goddamned musical genius Michael Nesmith is!It pains me, just pains me, to consider how little credit this guy gets as a musician and songwriter—I’m sure it doesn’t bother him that much, he’s an extremely wealthy man, accomplished in many fields, but I’m upset for Papa Nez, goddamnit!
If you know how the Monkees records were made, Headquarters aside, it usually wasn’t so much of a “group” effort as it was Micky or Davy singing on a track produced by the finest musical talents (usually the Wrecking Crew) and written by the likes of Boyce & Hart, Goffin and King, Neil Diamond, etc. or Mike Nesmith working on his own stuff (often with the very same musicians his fellow Monkees worked with, but he was much more hands-on with his sessions). Generally speaking, that’s what happened, and Nesmith’s more countryfied contribution to the Monkees’ overall gestalt, I’d argue, can stand alone, and be evaluated apart from the Monkees context.
In other words, what would an overall career box set retrospective of Nesmith’s work look like? (Note to Papa Nez, if you are reading this: Hire Andrew to do this for you!) It would be pretty amazing, I’d wager and would do a lot of the work towards establishing Nesmith’s rightful place in the 60/70s Laurel Canyon/country rock pantheon, something critically denied to him because, of course, he was on a kids show. MOJO readers would eat it up.
This Instant Replay box set is absolutely bursting at the seams with little-known or previously unheard gems, including the majority of Nesmith’s sessions recorded at RCA Studios in Nashville in 1968. As pointed out in the liner notes, Nesmith, the group’s most prolific member had quite a stack of incredible unused songs, but why they were never chosen for release at the time is baffling. In terms of the country rock hybrid sound, Nesmith—clearly—was a visionary of the form. He can be credited as much as ANYONE—including The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, even CSNY—with inventing the sound. Mike Nesmith was doing country rock on Monkees albums dating to 1966’s “Papa Gene’s Blues” on the first Monkees album. Give the man a lil’ credit where visionary credit is definitely due!
Here’s a sampling of the Nesmith songs heard on the Instant Replay box (might not necessarily be the exact version, everything isn’t on YouTube):
[To read the rest of the article and listen to the sample songs provided by the author, click HERE.]
“The Eton,” 1960 Curtis Mathes Console. Three in One: Television, AM-FM Radio, and Turntable. Oiled walnut cabinet, featured six matched High Fidelity speakers, with crossover network. Made in Texas.