Like almost everyone else in America, by 1969, I had lost interest in the Monkees. The change in attitude could be attributed mostly to my increasing age (in 1969, I was already almost a teenager!), but there were other factors.
The television show had ended. The implied bliss of the Summer of Love had become a wistful memory, and music itself started to develop a harder edge. Even the Monkees seemed to be growing sick of themselves, or of what they represented. The film ”Head” represented one of the most cynical pieces of cinematic art you could imagine, but such was my indifference that I didn’t even bother to see the film until many years later.
What a difference a couple of years can make! In 1967, the Monkees literally ruled the pop charts, holding the #1 spot for more than half of the year, but by the end of 1968, their relevance dwindled to the point where they virtually ceased to exist. What is remarkable about all of this is that the band retained its sense of humor, and applied it to every aspect of their film. “Head” is relentlessly entertaining, with incredible cameos by Sonny Liston, Frank Zappa, Victor Mature and many others. Scene after scene has images of the band disparaging themselves, but the music held the film together by contradicting the self-inflicted insults. “The Porpoise Song” was the last 45 RPM single I ever bought by the Monkees, and I loved it so much that it defies credulity that I wouldn’t want to buy the album or see the film, but such was the drastic turn in my own personal culture.
In my twenties, I sensed that I missed something, and I eventually bought a copy of the album, and then the film. I loved the album, and the film was even better. I hope you enjoy it now as much as I have come to enjoy it myself.
December 1968 – Billboard Charted #45
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