The Monkees were talented singers, musicians, and songwriters. They made a handful of the finest singles of their day and delivered exciting, entertaining live shows.
Released 51 years ago, the single “Daydream Believer” was the last No. 1 blast in the Monkees’ meteoric, TV-driven chart career. The quartet’s stick-to-your-brain hit was the band’s third chart-topping 45 and their fifth top-five release in 14 months. During a sliver of time, the Monkees reigned as America’s biggest band. They were, at least commercially, the stateside equivalent of their Liverpool rivals. But, it’s hard to imagine a pair of more dissimilar acts.
The song’s oblique lyrics focused on the endgame of a comfy but increasingly distant relationship. The narrator was caught mid-gaze before the bathroom mirror. He was reflecting on the quiet dissolution of his materialistic marriage – a union between “a daydream believer and a homecoming queen,” now curdled and “funky,” driven more by money than by romance.
“Daydream Believer” cemented the pinnacle of the U.S. chart for four weeks in late 1967 and early 1968. It was included on the Monkees’ last top-five album, the No. 3 entry “The Birds, the Bees & the Monkees,” alongside the band’s final top-five single, a remake of the TV show’s staple “Valleri.”
John Stewart had written “Daydream Believer” when he was still a member of the Kingston Trio, the popular urban folk group he had joined in 1961 as a replacement for co-founder Dave Guard. Stewart was beginning to explore a more personal side to his writing when the Kingston Trio disbanded in 1967. He recalled that he envisioned “Daydream Believer” as “part of a suburbia trilogy” that focused on the growing distance in a couple’s marriage. Its comparatively a serious subject matter and its setting echoed “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”
For Stewart, who died in 2008 after a long and prolific solo career that included the No. 5 1979 hit “Gold,” “Daydream Believer” was the gift that kept on giving. In 1986, a remixed version of the song reached the Hot 100, peaking at No. 79.
Two years before his death, the songwriter said,
“That song has paid the rent. That song has kept me alive.”
The Monkees are an American rock and pop band originally active between 1965 and 1971, with subsequent reunion albums and tours in the decades that followed. Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider formed the group in Los Angeles in 1965 for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968. The musical acting quartet was composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork and British stage and television actor and singer Davy Jones.
Don Kirshner initially supervised the band’s music. It was backed by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Despite the show being a flop, and the quarter leaning towards the art of acting, they still managed to become an overnight sensation. The TV show may have only lasted a couple of years but their music has lived on. It’s hard to believe that when ‘The Monkees’ brand started gaining pace and performing live, it was on the horizon the members had to start studying their instruments.
If you want to hear great songs, experience a wonderful atmosphere and have a lot of fun. A ‘Monkees’ gig is a must!
daydream believer, John Stewart, The Monkees
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