We are here, and we’re gonna have a good time

Unless you follow me or Mike Nesmith on social media, you probably didn’t know there was a new Monkees album out (after all, they’re almost 75 years old and only 3/4 of the original band remains). But I’m here to tell you that it dropped on Friday and it is ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD.

The album is called —wait for it—Good Times!, and as much as I wish the name was a little more…inventive, I must admit it effectively embraces the cheerful, shameless nostalgia that is the Monkees. At least it’s a better idea than Pool It! (fun fact: I have a signed copy of Pool It!, which I’m pretty sure my dad is going to donate if I don’t take it with me next time I visit).

So anyway, on Friday I donned my Nez hat and went by myself to a Monkees listening party at Amoeba Records, to celebrate the release of the new album while browsing record stacks.

The “party” was pretty subdued, mostly boomers and a couple of very nice Amoeba employees, so I kept my intense fangirling to myself. But it was so fun to hear new Monkees music voice blasting over the speakers while record browsing. Not to mention, I got so much free swag!

Can’t wait to get started on that coloring book 👍

There were also cupcakes and cookies, so all in all it was probably the best possible way to spend my Friday evening.

Some album highlights, in case you’re interested:

“Me & Magdalena” is straight-up beautiful. It was released a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening to it wayyyy more than a normal person should. The song was written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab/Postal Service fame (a whole other kind of nostalgia), and is probably the best ballad the Monkees have ever done. Go listen to it.

“Wasn’t Born To Follow” – I first heard this song on the Easy Rider soundtrack and since then it’s always been a favorite (I only recently heard Carole King’s version, even though she was the one who wrote the song!). I was so pleasantly surprised to hear Peter’s lovely, un-countrified rendition…honestly I think he sounds better than ever?!

No Monkees album would be complete without the voice of Davy Jones, and I’m so glad they chose to include “Love to Love.” It’s a Neil Diamond tune originally recorded in 1967, and really tops off the whole 60s throwback vibe. Hearing this song only made me sad that there was no more Davy on the album. Micky probably sang the most original hits, but in so many ways, Davy was the voice and face of the Monkees. MISS U, MANCHESTER COWBOY.

This is really difficult for me, but my ONE skip track is Nez’s original song “I Know What I Know” (I’m sorry, Mike!!). I’ve always been a bigger fan of his more upbeat, weird country stuff, so this one didn’t really do it for me.

“I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time)” – I’m mostly just impressed at how many Beatlesque sounds they managed to fit into a 2-minute song. Did you know this song was co-written by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne, who also happened to produce the entire album? Other songwriting credits for Good Times! go to Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Rivers Cuomo, and Andy Partridge. Also, the title track features Micky doing a duet with Harry Nilsson, so that’s pretty cool. 

The bottom line: this new album isn’t trying to be hip or modern or anything else but a solid collection of 60s-inspired pop songs (several of them were in fact written in the 60s) and I mean, it just works so well. I love the fact that it’s a collaboration with hit songwriters from both the past and present, and that the guys seemed to have had a blast recording it. Personally, I had a blast listening to it, and still can’t get the songs out of my head.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go live vicariously through my Monkees DVDs while wishing I was born 40 years earlier…

None of us is getting any younger

You can probably tell from my lack of ecstatic social media posts that I didn’t get tickets to Desert Trip. *sigh.* I was on the website 15 minutes beforehand, waited in a virtual line for an hour, and finally got in only to find that all GA tickets were sold out and the few remaining reserved seats were being snatched up quicker than I could select them. I mean, it’s ok….it’s only all of my favorite people performing at a once-in-a-lifetime music festival within driving distance of where I live, no big deal. I’ll get over it……..

/pity party

Anyway! Yesterday I bought a first pressing of Beatles for Sale at Mixed Nuts (another cool funky place in the new ‘hood). It’s one of my very favorite albums, and one that seems to go unnoticed pretty often.


First of all, how perfect is this album cover? I love the positioning of the album name, the muted autumnal colors, the slightly messy moptops and scarves/popped collars. So much subtle attitude going on.

Then there’s the liner notes, written by Beatles PR wiz Derek Taylor. An excerpt:

It isn’t all currency or current though. There’s a priceless history between these covers. None of us is getting any younger. When, in a generation or so, a radio-active, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about – ‘Did you actually know them?’ – don’t try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play the child a few tracks from this album and he’ll probably understand what it was all about. The kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today.

For the magic of the Beatles is, I suspect, timeless and ageless. It has broken all frontiers and barriers. It has cut through differences of race, age and class. It is adored by the world.

A little intense about the next generation living on Saturn, but besides that, I find it amazing that even then, there was a sense that the Beatles’ music was more than a passing fad. I was one of those kids of “AD 2000” whose first introduction to the Beatles was A Hard Day’s Night, and no one had to tell me beforehand that I should appreciate this band or that their music was going to change my life, it just happened. So even though Derek Taylor’s words may seem bold, he was, in fact, spot on.

I also find it interesting that, after mentioning a few “studio gimmicks,” Taylor has to reassure the reader that all this music can be reproduced live.

Beyond this, it is straightforward 1964 disc-making. Quite the best of its kind in the world. There is little or nothing on the album which cannot be reproduced on stage, which is, as students and critics of pop-music know, not always the case.

How ironic that in literally one year, the Beatles would be creating music specifically designed to be irreproducible on stage. And once again, popular music would be redefined by a quartet of 24-year-olds.


I have yet to own a Beatles record in mono, but listening to them in stereo is always interesting, especially because we have a finicky speaker that likes to cut out every once in a while, leaving an isolated vocal track or lone tambourine part sitting in the open, and suddenly you’ll hear something that you never noticed before (like the harmonies at the end of “Mr. Moonlight,” wow!). It also reveals a lot of the little imperfections (double-tracked voices and whatnot), which I love, because I’m a weirdo.

As I sit here trying to list out my favorite songs on Beatles for Sale, I realize I’ve ended up with half of the album. Typical. I’m a big fan of “No Reply” as the opening track…it’s already such a deviation from the straightforward pop from the Beatles’ first few albums. After listening to the first three songs, it’s pretty obvious that catchy tunes with moody, introspective lyrics is kind of this album’s whole deal. Two other favorites—”What You’re Doing” (that riff!) and “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”—fit the theme nicely. So does “I’ll Follow the Sun” (the loveliest one-and-a-half minute song ever). Ugh I just love them all. There are a lot of covers too, probably because it was the third album the Beatles released in 1964 and how are you supposed to write that many songs on top of making a movie and touring the world??

Despite the emo lyrics, every time I listen to Beatles for Sale, my heart is so happy. I think it’s because it was one of the first albums I bought after falling in love with this band, so hearing it always brings me back to my childhood bedroom, staring at the posters on my wall while the CD spins on top of my dresser. I will never get tired of it.

A nice little video with some good studio footage: