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The Monkees: A Record Producer Told Mike Nesmith He’d Never Buy This Monkees Song on Principle

Mike Nesmith wanted to work with musicians who collaborated with Aretha Franklin to create one of The Monkees' songs. Nesmith was proud of the track, but a notable producer said he wouldn't buy it on principle. The song became a hit in the United States.

Mike Nesmith was very proud of one of The Monkees‘ hit songs. He worked with some musicians he admired to create it. Subsequently, a record producer said he was unwilling to buy the classic rock song. Nesmith said the song was “an orphan.”

The Monkees' Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz near a pitcher
The Monkees’ Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz | James Jackson/Evening Standard/Getty Images

The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith wanted to work with these musicians he respected

During an interview with Rolling Stone, Nesmith said he wanted to work with certain musicians after The Monkees completed filming their only movie, Head. “I wanted to go down to Nashville while I still had some Monkee money and have my songs played by the Nashville cats like David Briggs, Jerry Carrigan and Norbert Putnam,” he recalled. He said the musicians in question worked with Aretha Franklin and other R&B artists.

While in Nashville, Nesmith played a song called “Listen to the Band” to some session musicians. They liked the song. Then he returned to Los Angeles so he could add horns to the track.

Mike Nesmith wanted a notable producer to listen to that Monkees’ song

Nesmith was “thrilled” with the song. “I ran into Richard Perry, who was a producer of some note at the time and very successful with big acts. I met him on Harry Nilsson‘s ‘Without You’ record. I said, ‘Richard, I just did this record and I’m so proud of it. I really want to play it for you.’ He said, ‘Oh, that is pretty good.’ I said, ‘It’s gonna be on the next record. I’ll be happy to get you one.’ He said, ‘Yeah, OK. I don’t think I’d ever buy a Monkees record, just on principle.'”

This incident caused Nesmith to have a different reaction to “Listen to the Band.” “I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s what this is born into,'” he recalled. “It was born an orphan. There was no place for it, no traction.”

The way the world reacted to The Monkees’ ‘Listen to the Band’

“Listen to the Band” became a minor hit. It reached No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for eight weeks. The song’s parent album, The Monkees Present, was a modest hit as well. It reached No. 100 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 15 weeks.


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Meanwhile, The Official Charts Company reports “Listen to the Band” did not chart in the U.K. The Monkees Present did not chart in the U.K. either. This is part of a larger trend of The Monkees being less successful in the U.K. in than the United States. For example, The Monkees had three No. 1 songs in the U.S. (“I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” and “Last Train to Clarksville”) and only one in the U.K. (“I’m a Believer”). While “Listen to the Band” was not one of The Monkees’ most famous songs, it clearly mattered to Nesmith.