Why The Monkees’ ‘Good Clean Fun’ Doesn’t Include the Title of the Song in Its Lyrics

TL;DR:

  • Mike Nesmith write The Monkees’ “Good Clean Fun.”
  • The Monkees’ manager felt “Good Clean Fun” and other songs by Nesmith revealed something about his style.
  • “Good Clean Fun” became a hit in the United States.
The Monkees' Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz at a piano
The Monkees’ Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz | Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer

The Monkees‘ Mike Nesmith wrote the group’s song “Good Clean Fun.” The lyrics of the song don’t mention its title. After Nesmith died, The Monkees’ manager explained why Nesmith often excluded song titles from his lyrics.

Why The Monkees’ manager said Mike Nesmith is as important as The Byrds

Andrew Sandoval was the Prefab Four’s manager. Nesmith died in 2021. Following the singer’s death, Sandoval discussed Nesmith’s musical style.

“Melodically, he was inventive,” Sandoval told Variety in 2021. “And as far as his concept in mid-1968 that country and rock music should go together, and then going to Nashville to record and do things along the lines of what The Byrds were doing — I mean, he was on the leading edge of it.” Sandoval said Nesmith was as important as Gram Parsons, Rick Nelson, and The Byrds.

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Why Mike Nesmith didn’t mention song titles in ‘Good Clean Fun’ and other songs

Sandoval also discussed Nesmith’s lyrical style. “I think his sort of willful obscurity [was his trademark],” he said. “So many of his finest songs, say, ‘Some of Shelly’s Blues,’ which was covered by Linda Ronstadt and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the song title never appears in the song, because he didn’t want to do anything obvious, ever, so there was no chorus line that had that song title.

“‘Tapioca Tundra,’ which was a top 40 record for The Monkees, there’s no ‘tapioca tundra’ mentioned in the lyrics,” Sandoval continued. “‘Good Clean Fun,’ another single for The Monkees, there’s no ‘good clean fun’ in it. He became more idiosyncratic, but he was also a poet at heart and looked at lyrics in that way.”

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How The Monkees’ ‘Good Clean Fun’ performed on the charts in the United Kingdom and the United States

“Good Clean Fun” became a modest hit. It reached No. 82 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for five weeks. It was one of the band’s more popular songs written by Nesmith.

The Monkees released “Good Clean Fun” on the album The Monkees Present. The album reached No. 100 on the Billboard 200. It stayed on the chart for 15 weeks.

The Official Charts Company reports “Good Clean Fun” did not chart in the United Kingdom. The Monkees Present did not chart there either. Outside of compilations, none of the Prefab Four’s subsequent albums would chart in the U.K. until 2016’s Good Times!

“Good Clean Fun” became a minor success for The Monkees even if Nesmith took an unorthodox approach to its lyrics.

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