The Monkees’ Theme Song Was Inspired by This Classic Hit
One of The Monkees’ most famous songs is their theme song. While the song will forever be associated with the Prefab Four, it was actually inspired by another band. Here’s how two songwriters came up with the “(Theme From) The Monkees” during a walk.
These songwriters wrote most of The Monkees’ theme song during a walk to a park
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were a songwriting duo known as Boyce and Hart. The duo wrote a number of The Monkees’ songs, including “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I Wanna Be Free,” and “Valleri.” In his book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart discussed writing “(Theme From) The Monkees” on a walk to a park.
“Along the way, Tommy started snapping his fingers to the rhythm of our swinging footsteps,” he said. “Soon I joined in, making the ‘choo-choot-cha-choo’ sound of an opening and closing hi-hat cymbal with my voice. In the back of my mind I was hearing the hi-hat and finger-snapping groove of ‘Catch Us If You Can,’ the classic Dave Clark Five single that had been all over the radio that week. A few cars sped past us on our narrow mountain road, their drivers glaring at us like we were crazy to be out walking in a city thoroughly dominated by motor vehicles.”
Boyce came up with the song’s famous opening lyric. “Tommy not only ignored the road hogs, but boldly announced a claim to our space with the music and words that sprang effortlessly from his lips, ‘Here we come, walking down the street,’” Boyce recalled. “Without missing a beat I sang back, ‘We get the funniest looks from everyone we meet; Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees…’” By the time the duo arrived at the park, the theme song was mostly completed.
Why Bobby Hart thought The Monkees’ theme song perfectly captured the band
Hart was satisfied with the song because he felt it expressed The Monkees’ Marx Brothers-esque image. In addition, the line “We’re the young generation, and we’ve got something to say ” aligned the Prefab Four with the youth culture of the 1960s. The producers of The Monkees’ sitcom were pleased with the song.
How the world reacted to ‘(Theme From) The Monkees’
While the song was a single, it didn’t reach the Billboard Hot 100. However, it had an impact on movies. For example, The Monkees’ arthouse film Head includes a song called “Ditty Diego-War Chant.” This song uses the line “Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees” from the theme song, however, it recontextualizes it in a song where the Prefab Four poke fun at their own bubblegum image. In addition, “(Theme From) The Monkees” appeared in the film Monkey Trouble and the soundtrack of Minions. “(Theme From) The Monkees” wasn’t a hit, but it seemed to resonate across generations.