Music

Mike Nesmith Wrote a Song About The Monkees Turning 'Into Something We Weren't Offstage'

During an interview, Mike Nesmith said the members of The Monkees became something they weren’t when they performed live. He channeled these feelings into one of The Monkees’ songs. The song in question had some popularity in the United States.

The Monkees’ live performances inspired Mike Nesmith to write this song

In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, Nesmith and his bandmates Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork named the 15 songs that captured their lives. Some of the songs on the list were massive hits like “Last Train to Clarksville” and “Daydream Believer.” On the other hand, some of the tracks on the list were less popular.

In the interview, Nesmith discussed one of the Prefab Four songs he wrote: “Tapioca Tundra.” “The Monkees were playing live by this time, and the lyric to this was inspired by that,” he said. “These were big concerts, like 20,000 people. It was just the three of us playing, me, Micky and Peter. Davy [Jones] played tambourine or maracas.”

Mike Nesmith said playing songs live changed the members of his band

Nesmith revealed playing with the Prefab Four was a unique experience. “Every time we played an extraordinary thing happened,” he recalled. “The performance turned us into something we weren’t offstage, which was The Monkees. Peter calls it the ‘fifth thing.’” 

Nesmith discussed why playing on a stage transfigured the Prefab Four. “It was the audience,” he opined. “They were there to bring this thing into reality, to make actual what the television show had portrayed. It was really about them. The lyrics come from a post-concert realization of the reality that had just occurred, The Monkees coming to life as the audience. Maybe that’s a little metaphysical.”

The way the world reacted to The Monkees’ ‘Tapioca Tundra’

Regardless of whether the lyrics of “Tapioca Tundra” were “metaphysical,” the song became a minor hit. The track peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for six weeks. It appeared on the album The Birds, The Bees & The MonkeesThe Birds, The Bees & The Monkees became a massive hit. It peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 50 weeks.

Meanwhile, “Tapioca Tundra” was not as popular in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song did not chart in the U.K. In a similar vein, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees didn’t chart there either. Subsequently, “Tapioca Tundra” appeared on the compilation album Monkeemania (The Very Best of the Monkees)Monkeemania (The Very Best of the Monkees) hit No. 70 in the U.K. and lasted on the chart for two weeks. Nesmith took his feeling about his band’s concerts and turned them into a classic song.

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