The Monkees

(Theme From) The Monkees

Composed by Bobby Hart / Tommy Boyce

Song Review by

From the instantly recognizable brief introductory tom-tom drum roll, the “(Theme From) The Monkees” commences both the band’s debut long player, as well as all 58 episodes of their groundbreaking and landmark television series. The song is a high-spirited romp that captures the freewheelin’ nature of the programme. The track vacillates from the tentative finger snapping and ultimately catchy opening lines, which demonstratively proclaim, “Here we come/Walking down the street/Get the funniest looks from/Everyone we meet” to the loud and boisterous chorus that drives home the central theme “Hey, hey we’re the Monkees/People say we Monkee around”. The line that rounds out the chorus -- “We’re too busy singin’ to put anybody down” -- is particularly interesting as it directly contrasts the mid ‘60s rock and roll image of rebellion and general non-conformity. No doubt this was a reflection of concerns by the Standards and Practices office that felt the need to tame the band’s image for primetime TV. Interestingly, this cut was among a handful of tracks penned and recorded prior to the assembly of the show’s primary cast. Under the auspices of “musical director” Don Kirshner, the team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were commissioned to write the initial batch of material to be used on the Monkees project, including the early hits “Last Train To Clarkesville” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”. The music’s timeless quality perfectly promoted the high-energy hijinks of the pre-fab four, which has worn considerably well over the years. There are several alternate versions of the “(Theme From) The Monkees”. In addition to the full-length album track, a considerably shorter rendition was used during the opening credit sequence, which concluded with the line “You never know where we’ll be found/So, you’d better get ready, we may be coming to your town”. This was an obvious reference to the full tilt multi-media Monkees machine that would include the weekly network show, recordings, as well as live personal appearances by the quartet. A further rendering was the result of a unique broadcast regulation, that required lead singer Micky Dolenz to croon the lyrics in broken phonetic Italian and was recorded specifically for broadcast in Italy. The track, titled “Tema Dei Monkees” can be found on the odds and sods compilation Missing Links, Vol. 3 (1996). When Rhino Records overhauled the entire Monkees’ catalogue in the mid 1990’s, they included a primordial take as bonus material on their reissue of the group’s self-titled debut. A few other artists have also covered the song, such as country music satirist Ray Stevens and the equally absurd Benzedrine Monks of Santa Demo.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Monkees 1966 Rhino
Barrel Full of Monkees [Colgems] 1971 Colgems
No Image 1972 2:20
No Image 1975 Pair 2:20
No Image 1980 EMI Music Distribution 2:17
No Image 1981 MFP
Then & Now...The Best of the Monkees 1986 Arista
Listen to the Band 1991 Rhino 2:21
Greatest Hits [Rhino] 1995 Rhino 2:21
Missing Links, Vol. 3 1996 Rhino / Rhino/Warner Bros.
Hey Hey We're the Monkees 1996 DJ Specialist 2:20
Friends for Life [Lightyear] 1996
Various Artists
Lightyear 2:19
AM Gold: TV Themes of the 60's 1996
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:20
The Very Best of the Monkees 1997 Bellaphon Records 2:18
Anthology 1998 Rhino 2:21
Here They Come: The Greatest Hits of the Monkees 1998 WEA International 2:21
20 Greatest Hits 2000 2:19
Music Box 2001 Rhino 2:22
The Essentials 2002 Rhino 2:19
TV Land Presents Favorite TV Theme Songs 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 0:52
The Definitive Monkees 2002 WEA International 2:20
The Best of the Monkees [Rhino] 2003 Rhino 1:25
Daydream Believer: The Platinum Collection 2005 Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp. 2:19
Very Best of the Monkees [WEA] 2006 MSI Music Distribution / Warner Music TV 2:19
Platinum Collection: Daydream Believer, Vol. 1/Platinum Collection, Vol. 2 2006 Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp. / Rhino / WEA
Works 2007 Rhino/Warner Bros.
I'm a Believer: The Best of the Monkees 2007 Music Club Deluxe 2:19
Original Album Series 2010 Rhino 0:52
Monkeemania: The Very Best of the Monkees 2011 Rhino 2:22
Action! The Songs of Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart 2012
Various Artists
Ace 2:19
The Very Best of TV Ad Songs 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 2:20
The  Monkees 50 2016 Rhino 2:21
Jackie: The Annual 2010
Various Artists
EMI 2:18
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