Sunday, June 15, 2014
Track of the Week: The Monkees, "The Door Into Summer"
The Monkees hit their mid-80s comeback right around the time I started to discover the music of the 1960s. For a couple of years there I rated them with the Beatles, but by the time the 90s rolled around, I saw my former love of the Pre-Fab Four to be a huge embarrassment. After all, wasn't music supposed to be "authentic"? Weren't bands supposed to write all their own songs and play their own instruments in the studio?
In recent years I've met folks whose musical tastes I respect who happen to like the Monkees. That got me to rethink things, but nothing changed my mind like their movie Head, a crazy psychedelic nugget where they provide a withering metacommentary on their own fame. Since then I've picked up some of their albums, and have been pleasantly surprised at just how good they are.
One of my favorites, especially this time of year, is "The Door Into Summer." It comes from their Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones Ltd. album of 1967, and while sung by Mike Nesmith, was penned by Chip Douglas and Bill Martin. There's a lot going on here, from the catchy chorus to the hippy lyrics criticizing war profiteers. I just love the feel of it, since it has that kind of relaxed mid-tempo vibe made for a leisurely suburban drive in the summer time. (Maybe that's why this CD is currently on heavy rotation in my car.) It doesn't hurt that the trebly organ sounds like a circus calliope.
Listening to this song is also a good time to contemplate what the Beatles wrought. They made it is so rock bands were expected to write their own material, but few groups can actually muster up a lot that's profound. That being the case, I'd rather listen to a song performed by crack studio musicians and written by professional, award-winning songwriters than the half-baked compositions of a second-rate rock band. Perhaps the Monkees were on to something after all.