The Monkees’ Songwriter Wished 1 Song Could Have Been Their 1st Single

TL;DR:

  • Four songs almost served as The Monkees’ debut single.
  • One of the group’s regular songwriters revealed which tune he wished was The Monkees’ first single.
  • The song appeared on the group’s most popular album in the United States.
The Monkees' Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith in front of a curtain
The Monkees’ Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith | NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

A songwriting duo gave The Monkees many classic songs. One of The Monkees’ songwriters revealed which song he wanted to be the group’s debut single. Ultimately, the group’s manager chose a different track from The Monkees’ debut album.

The Monkees’ songwriters said 4 songs could have been the group’s debut single

Boyce & Hart were a songwriting duo composed of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. They gave the world songs such as “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Valleri,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” and “I Wanna Be Free.” In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart discussed the Prefab Four’s manager, Don Kirshner. He revealed Kirshner chose the group’s first single.

“When it came time to pick the song that would be released as The Monkees’ first single, Donnie rented out a restaurant on Vine Street and held a lunchtime listening party for the executives and promotion team of RCA Records,” Hart wrote. “He had narrowed it down to four Boyce & Hart productions: ‘(Theme From) The Monkees,’ ‘Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day,’ ‘Last Train to Clarksville,’ and the Goffin & King song, ‘Take a Giant Step.'” For context, Goffin & King were another songwriting duo composed of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

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Why Tommy Boyce wanted the band’s theme song to be a single

Hart revealed which song he wanted to be The Monkees’ debut song. “I was silently rooting for the theme song, reasoning that the exposure it would receive appearing each week over the TV show credits would give it the greatest edge,” he wrote. “Intently, I watched the faces of the executives. 

“As they silently listened, I could see grins break out across their faces,” Hart added. “When the music stopped, the head of the RCA promotion department shook his head and said, ‘Give us any one of these songs and we’ll make the record top 10.'” Ultimately, “Last Train to Clarksville” became The Monkees’ debut single.

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How ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’ performed in the United States and the United Kingdom

“(Theme From) The Monkees” was not released as a single in the United States. Thus, it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The song appeared on the band’s self-titled album. The album topped the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks. In total, it lasted 102 weeks on the chart. None of the group’s other albums lasted as long on the Billboard 200.

According to The Official Charts Company, “(Theme From) The Monkees” did not chart in the United Kingdom either. Meanwhile, The Monkees was No. 1 for seven weeks in the U.K. The album spent 37 weeks on the chart altogether. It lasted longer on the chart than the band’s subsequent albums.

“(Theme From) The Monkees” is a classic tune even if it didn’t get to be the group’s debut single.

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