‘We weren’t consulted’: A glimpse into the Monkees’ early musicmaking

Over the years, the biggest of the Monkees hits have become closely associated with their singer: Micky Dolenz and “I’m a Believer,” Davy Jones and “Daydream Believer.” How they came to be paired with these career-changing tunes (the first written by Neil Diamond, the second by the Kingston Trio’s John Stewart) remains a mystery — even to to Monkees themselves.

“I have no idea,” Dolenz admitted, during a recent concert Q&A. “We weren’t consulted. It wasn’t up to any sort of community decision. This is in the early days, the first two albums — we really had very little to say about anything.”

In that era, before they grew confident enough to take over their own musical direction, the Monkees relied on producers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart — and a stable of famous songwriters — to provide the material. Then, Dolenz says they’d record one, two, three tracks at a time.

“I didn’t have a huge problem with it,” adds Dolenz, a trained actor. “I was used to being directed. And so, Tommy or Bobby or somebody like Don Kirshner would send me demos on acetates — and I still have a lot of them, from Carole King and Boyce and Hart, and all those people. I would listen to the song, and pick a key, and then they would say, ‘You’re going to record this next Wednesday.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ Most of those songs on the first two albums, I did in one take — because I sometimes had to do three lead vocals a night.”

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