The Beatles ‘A Day in the Life’: The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith on Watching the Fab Four Record the Song

The Monkees‘ Mike Nesmith was there when The Beatles recorded one of their most famous avant-garde songs: “A Day in the Life.” During an interview, Nesmith explained why he thought The Beatles were so good. In addition, he said The Beatles and The Monkees had something significant in common.

The Beatles' Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison standing in a row
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Why The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith felt he couldn’t answer a common question about The Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’

According to the book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem into Miracles, Bobby Hart wrote several hit songs for The Monkees. Hart said The Monkees were designed to be the American version of The Beatles. Hart added that he drew inspiration from The Fab Four when he wrote songs for the Prefab Four. 

Nesmith’s connection to The Beatles extended beyond any musical similarities. According to Billboard, he was there when The Beatles recorded “A Day in the Life.” Nesmith discussed being present at this momentous occasion in the history of art-rock. “Over the years, people have actually said to me, ‘Oh, my God that must have been incredible. What was it like to be there?'” he revealed.

“And it’s an unanswerable question,” Nesmith added. “Because when you are there, I mean this goes a little philosophical, but when you’re there, you don’t have any idea you are there.”

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Why The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith thought The Beatles wrote such good songs

While the creation of “A Day in the Life” might sound like a big deal to a Beatles fan, Nesmith said The Beatles didn’t look at it that way. “And when I met the guys and went to the ‘Day in the Life’ session and all that stuff, I realized as I’d write that this was all very normal to these people,” he recalled. “The fact they were changing the world was nothing that was any different than all the other bands at the time, except they were just so crazy good.”

Nesmith had a theory as to why The Beatles made such great songs. “I don’t know who it was that said, ‘How can they be so good?'” he said. “And they had just practiced just for years and years and years.” 

Nesmith added The Beatles and The Monkees both used the medium of television to their advantage. For context, The Monkees had a sitcom from 1966 to 1968 and The Beatles made numerous television appearances. Some of the Fab Four’s appearances on television include the times they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show and the movie Magical Mystery Tour. The latter was made for the small screen.

The Monkees' Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz at a piano
The Monkees’ Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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The way the world reacted to ‘A Day in the Life’

Regardless of what made The Beatles so great, “A Day in the Life” found its way into many listeners’ hands. It appeared on the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album topped the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 233 weeks. 

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was popular in the United Kingdom too. The Official Charts Company reports the album hit No. 1 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for 275 weeks. “A Day in the Life” is a classic song — and it has an interesting connection to Nesmith.

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