The Monkees Hit Mike Nesmith Called ‘the Worst Record Ever’
Few would say the Monkees released one of the worst songs ever, but Monkees member Mike Nesmith is an exception. He thought the group’s final pop hit was horrible. The track was written in a matter of minutes and partly improvised in front of a record executive.
How a songwriting duo sold a song that didn’t exist
According to the book Psychedelic Bubblegum, the songwriting duo Boyce and Hart, which was composed of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, was responsible for several of the Monkees’ hits. One morning, the Monkees’ manager, Don Kirshner, told Boyce that the Monkees needed a song with a girl’s name in its title. This makes sense, as many hit rock songs have titles that are just women’s names — “Angie,” Barbara Ann,” and “Maybelline” are some of the most famous.
Boyce told Kirshner that he’d recently co-written such a song with Hart. This was a lie. Boyce said he’d be at Kirshner’s house with the song by 11:00 a.m. Boyce and Hart began composing the song Kirshner asked for at 10:45 p.m. As Boyce and Hart drove to Kirshner’s house, they began to write a song about a girl named Valleri.
The song wasn’t finished by the time the songwriters arrived at Kirshner’s house. They partially improvised it in front of Kirshner. Kirshner loved the song and thought it would become a huge hit.
How ‘Valleri’ finally became a single
Although Kirshner liked “Valleri,” the Monkees didn’t release it for over a year. This was because the Monkees started taking control over their own music. Eventually “Valleri” was released because record executive Lester Sill didn’t think any of the Monkees’ other original songs were good enough to become a single. However, there was a catch to releasing “Valleri”.
Boyce and Hart received producer credits for the original version of “Valleri.” Sill said he couldn’t release the song for that reason. Thus, Boyce and Hart had to create a new version of “Valleri.” Boyce found it odd that he and Hart couldn’t receive producer credit for their work on the song. However, they both took comfort in the fact they would receive writing credits and royalties from their second version of “Valleri.”
How the public and Mike Nesmith reacted to ‘Valleri’
“Valleri” was released in March 1968 and became the Monkees’ sixth and final gold record. According to Billboard, it reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. This marked the ending of an era for the group. By the end of the year, the group had difficulty getting one of their singles to the top half of the Billboard Hot 100. They never had another top 10 hit.
Despite the success of “Valleri,” Nesmith doesn’t like it. According to the book Total Control, Nesmith called “Valleri” “the worst song [he’d] ever heard in [his] life.” In the same vein, Ultimate Classic Rock reports he called it “the worst record ever made.” Regardless, “Valleri” did very well for a song that was partially improvised.