‘One of the best songs he ever wrote': The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz on the Mike Nesmith hit that got away

One of Mike Nesmith’s best-selling songs wasn’t recorded by the Monkees, though bandmate Micky Dolenz says it should have been.

Seems, early in their career, Nesmith already had a demo of a 1965 composition titled “Different Drum,” and wanted his band to record the track. Instead, the Monkees — which to that point had little say over which songs they recorded — saw a 1967 version by the Stone Poneys hurtle a then-unknown singer named Linda Ronstadt to stardom as “Different Drum” went to No. 13 on the Billboard charts.

“Funnily enough, one of the best songs I think he ever wrote,” Dolenz said from the stage recently, “he did not write for the Monkees — or rather, he actually did submit it for the early Monkee records, and they turned it down. This was before we had any control over what we were going to be recording. He submitted this song to the producers, and the record company, and they said: ‘Nah, that’s not a Monkee tune.’ So, he said: ‘OK,’ and he went and he gave it somebody else.”

“Different Drum” was actually previewed on a December 1966 episode of the Monkees’ television program titled “Too Many Girls,” but as a comedy bit by Nesmith. The Greenbriar Boys also recorded a bluegrass version for 1966’s Better Late Than Never.

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