Why Didn’t D.W. Washburn Make the Top Ten?

asks Jackie Richmond

Just because we’re all such keen Monkee fans doesn’t mean that we’ve got to bury our heads in the sand like a gang of tame ostriches. We’ve got to own up when things go wrong for the boys, even when it means being ribbed by our mates who perhaps aren’t so devoted to Micky, Davy, Pete and Mike.

One case in point is the comparative failure of “D.W. Washburn” in the British charts. I expect somebody has had a go at you about this. “Hello, what about the Monkees then! Slipping, aren’t they! Told you they would…!” Really annoying, isn’t it! But facts are facts, no matter how you try to twist them, and after “Valleri” it WAS disappointing that “D.W. Washburn” got no higher than number twenty in one of our charts…

It’s really rather strange. The disc reviewers all liked it—one said it was “a lazily relaxed number that’s a cross between razzamatazz, Good Time, vaudeville and Dixie. You’ll be singing along with it from the very first time you hear it. This is a disc with immediate commercial impact.”

And the others tended to agree. BUT not enough people found it commercial enough to nip out and buy it in large enough numbers to make the Top Ten. W-e-l-l… let’s look at the problem a little more closely.

First of all, we know that time, a precious thing, has not always been on the side of the Monkees. The boys have been so darned busy that some aspects of their career have to be carried through in a tremendous rush. From now on, though, they are MAKING more time to pick out a likely single—and having a whole lot more to do with the actual production side.

But they’ve also got a never-ending problem. If they pick a single which is aimed specially at the massive Monkee market in America, it simply has to be a bit of a gamble as to whether it will take off here. Perhaps “D.W. Washburn” was just not quite right for the British buyers. Trouble is that if a mistake is made, it can’t suddenly be put right.

A slipped disc, no matter by who, sticks on the evidence of the charts. Which, in turn, leads to the knockers having their little knocks… and so making all of us hopping mad! You can’t really just try out a new single for a week or so, then withdraw it or forget all about it and leap into the lists with an instant follow-up. That would REALLY give the knockers something to talk about, wouldn’t it?

Even so, it has to be admitted that it seems that fewer people were attracted by “D.W. Washburn” so, the proof as to why, could simply be that it WAS the wrong song. Or the wrong time to release it…

But let’s not get too carried away about the charts anyway. In themselves, they’re as accurate as possible considering the speed of doing them every single week of the year. But they show, roughly, who is selling the most records in that particular week.

Now where you actually end up in the charts depends on a lot of different things. Is there a boom or a slump in record sales generally?—that’s an important point. In a slump, you could get to number one spot and yet sell only half as many copies as would be needed in a boom spell. So you get the same honour of being right at the top… but perhaps only half the money from royalties.

Another thing: If all the fans go out and buy a new single in the first couple of weeks on sale, the record could hurtle up and then hurtle out again in a short space of time. But if the spending is spread over a couple of months, the record could stick around the ten-to-twenty mark all that time… and actually SELL MORE than a record which gets to number one.

Get it? It’s a bit complicated, I know, but it points how sometimes chart positions are not entirely right in proving just how many fans bought any particular record.

Let’s get off that subject for a while… and consider what has been happening to other top-rated groups during the time that the Monkees’ last couple of singles haven’t zoomed as high as we’d like. Because the fact is that there’s a whole change come over the chart scene in any case. The Who, Traffic, and many others have found that their terrific popularity among fans is not always shown by the places they get to in the charts. Because you get to the top five with one record, there’s no guarantee that the next one will do even half as well.

It all depends on the actual material and performance on the “follow-up”. And there are ever so many groups who get one hit record and then are never heard of again. No chance of that happening to the Monkees, of course—they’ve already become almost “veterans” of the hit- making stakes.

And getting to number twenty really isn’t so bad—not with the massive number of records released each week of the year.

Still, we mustn’t make like ostriches. It’s NOT so good that the Monkees didn’t make at least the Top Ten with their last single. It’s up to us all to help ensure the next one is a chart-smasher of a success. If you think there IS something wrong with the actual choice of songs for recent singles… well, why not drop me a line about it! Let’s get together on this thing.


Magazine: Monkees Monthly
Editor: Jackie Richmond
Issue: 20
Publisher: Monkees Monthly
Pages: 34, 39