It started out as a teeny little question, but day by day and month by month it grows bigger and bigger, like something’s going on with those Monkees and we don’t know what it is—(to borrow a line from a Bob Dylan song). It seems that it all began as long ago as the beginning—when the Monkees decided that Don Kirshner shouldn’t produce their records any more. Though Last Train To Clarksville and I’m a Believer have turned out to be the Monkees’ biggest hits (they were both produced by Mr. Kirshner), their other records Daydream Believer and Valleri, to name two, were just as good, or perhaps even better—depending on your personal taste in music. The biggest sonic breakaway seemed to take place with The Porpoise Song, the first Monkee single that wasn’t an instant hit. In fact, The Porpoise Song didn’t even make the top 40 on some charts (personally, it was my favorite of all the tunes they’ve done, but that’s beside the point).
Well, anyway it has become more and more clear as time has gone by that maybe the Monkees’ intense craving to write and cut their very own records with as little outside assistance as possible was perhaps not the wisest move to make. Let’s hope that by the time this is in print a brand new Monkee single and/ or LP has been released, and that it is a sensational hit—thus erasing everybody’s doubts about the Monkees’ musical judgment.
Hair & head!
Somewhere along the line the Monkees also went on a “hair craze”. Pictures appeared in the centerfold of one magazine showing all the boys except Davy covered with fuzzy growths that made some fans think they looked like a cross between Sunset Strip hippies and real live monkeys! But the Beatles had set the trend and there was no stopping any groups from growing a hirsute foliage on their chinny-chin-chins. Ultimately, Mike and Micky discarded their beards, but Peter, who had once shaved off his beard, has now (as we go to press) let it grow out again.
The origin of the latest Monkee craze is a secret known only to the boys themselves and to the executives of Columbia Pictures. As their movie Head is being slowly released across the country, the national ads for the film in newspapers, periodicals and on television show the face of a guy (ad consultant John Brockman) wearing silver-rimmed glasses and looking straight out at you with the word HEAD emblazoned across his forehead. Underneath, it just says “A Columbia Picture”—and at press time, nowhere in any of the ads have the words “The Monkees” appeared!! Maybe there’s a method to their madness and it’s for sure that the ad is an eye-catcher—but it’s also for sure that the Monkees’ millions of teenage fans all over America might let the movie slip by without even knowing that their favs are starring in the film! As a result of this hip, but rather obscure, publicity it seems inevitable that there are going to be a lot of disappointed Monkee fans who really want to see the movie and, through no fault of their own, will miss it.
In the world of pop music, some of the top groups have done seemingly strange things, but perhaps it is they who set the trend. Certainly there is no reason why the Monkees shouldn’t do what they want to do and be trend-setters in their own right. Perhaps, as they themselves have said, they’re tired of being four lovable little mop-tops and are trying to emerge as individuals. Only time will tell what the results will be.