Aside from being in the Monkees, Mike Nesmith was a talented songwriter and key contributor to the birth of country-rock. His new autobiography, Infinite Tuesday, is accompanied by a 14-track CD retrospective and provides insight to the musician’s early career.
An early Monkees track is “Papa Gene’s Blues,” a fun piece of folk-rock from the ’66 debut LP. The session sported guitar work from heavy hitters like Glen Campbell, Al Casey, and the one and only James Burton, who took a scorching, string-twisting Tele solo. A year later, Mike wrote “Different Drum,” which would become a hit for the Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. His own jaunty version from ’72 is included here and Red Rhodes’ stunning pedal-steel work is a highlight.
“The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” from ’67, is important as the first studio recording the Monkees actually played on, a blend of folk-rock and chamber pop with Peter Tork’s accomplished keyboard solo. “Joanne,” from Nesmith’s first solo album, shows the guitarist’s songwriting chops in a country-rock ballad. It’s gorgeous, as is “Some Of Shelly’s Blues.”
As this best-of set proves, Nesmith was more than the Monkee’s guitarist – he was a gifted songwriter wholly apart from that ’60s pop confection.
This article originally appeared in VG August 2017 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.