The Enduring Popularity of The Monkees' "Daydream Believer"

The Monkees in 1967
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

On June 14, 1967, The Monkees entered the studio to record "Daydream Believer," a John Stewart song which would go on to become one of their most successful singles and a signature tune for the band.

Penned by as part of a so-called “suburbia trilogy,” along with the songs “Do You Have a Place I Can Hide” and “The Ballad of Charlie Fletcher,” Stewart discussed the origins of the song in an interview with the Archives of Music Preservation, which is worth a watch, if only to hear the story straight from Stewart himself:

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It’s said that “Daydream Believer” was initially turned down by both We Five and Spanky and Our Gang, but when Stewart ran into Monkees producer Chip Douglas during a party at actor/songwriter Hoyt Axton’s home, Douglas asked Stewart if he had any material that might work for The Monkees, and...you’ll never guess which song Stewart pitched!

That’s right, you rhetorical-question answerer you: it was “Daydream Believer.”

Originally recorded for the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album but ultimately placed on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees instead, “Daydream Believer” included performances by all four members of the band, with Davy Jones on lead vocals, Micky Dolenz on backing vocals, Michael Nesmith on lead guitar, and Peter Tork on piano...and, yes, he’s the one who came up with that wonderful introductory bit.

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Longtime Monkees fans will notice that the video snips off the very, very beginning of the song, wherein Douglas announces that they’re about to start take 7A, at which point Davy Jones nonetheless asks, “What number is this, Chip?” To which Douglas and some other voice – your humble author has always thought that it sounded like one of the other Monkees – snaps back, “7A!” At this, a seemingly slightly-chagrined Jones replies, “Okay, I don’t mean to get you excited, man. It’s ‘cause I’m short, I know...” (In his memoir, The Monkees Tale, Jones suggested that one might be able to hear the annoyance in his voice during the song.)

“Daydream Believer” proved to be a huge smash for The Monkees, climbing to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making its way to No. 5 on the U.K. Singles chart, and when Jones, Dolenz, and Tork got back together in the ‘80s and reunited the group, the song was reissued and made it back onto the Hot 100, hitting No. 79.

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