Monday, April 23, 2018

Certain Songs #1193: The Monkees – “For Pete’s Sake” | Medialoper

Album: Headquarters
Year: 1967

Artistic freedom! Asked for and answered!!

Life comes at you fast when you’re at the top of the pop world, and on their third album in six months, The Monkees got what they’d been asking for from the start: the chance to write for and play on their own records. So they tossed Don Kirshner out on his ass, and with a core group of Mike Nesmith & Peter Tork on various guitars & keyboards, Mickey Dolenz on drums and Davy Jones on, let’s say, percussion, they set out to record their third album, Headquarters.

With half of the songs co-writes by various band members, Headquarters was more folk-rocky and less rock-rocky than its predecessors — Mickey Dolenz was far more dynamic as a singer than he was as a drummer — but still a pretty impressive record, even if it was the only album from their imperial phase to not feature any hit singles. But even that was part of the point: they wanted to record an album that hung together as an album, not hits plus filler, which their first two albums were unfairly perceived to be.

Of course, Headquarters was a smash, if not quite as much of a smash as the first two, and someone tapped its best song, Tork’s dark & groovy “For Pete’s Sake” to be the closing theme song for the TV show’s second season, exposing it to millions of people each week.

I haven’t written that much about The Monkees TV show — maybe I’ll save it for my Certain Shows blog, in 2022 — mostly because I haven’t watched it in 30 years, but I’m pretty sure that “For Pete’s Sake” ended up being the closing theme song for the entire series in syndication, because I have such strong memories of enjoying this mysterious song that always seemed way more serious than the epic silliness that had proceeded it.

In this generation (in this generation)
In this lovin’ time (in this lovin’ time)
In this generation
We will make the world shine

Yes. Of course you will. It’s actually refreshing that The Monkees weren’t completely immune to the late 1960s hippie-dippie Baby Boomer exceptionalism that affected all of their peers, and while it always easy to make fun of failed youthful idealism fifty years later, “For Pete’s Sake” gets over on the performance.

Driven by a cool guitar lick from Tork, augmented by decorative organ by Nesmith, “For Pete’s Sake” revolved around the call-and-response vocals from Dolenz, Tork and Jones. Dolenz kept it low-key vocally until the very end, hitting the upper part of his register as he sang “we gotta be freeeeeee!”

“For Pete’s Sake”

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