Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hey Hey We're The Monkees

While playing some oldies the other night I came across Bob Rafaelson’s name as co-producer of The Monkees’ television series. Although their hits remain a staple of classic rock radio, it still seems to be a guilty pleasure to admit liking The Monkees for their music and their television series (which won an Emmy for best comedy in 1967).

Their music was good because it was written by Brill Building superstars, including Carole King and Gerry Goffin (brought to the project by Music Supervisor Don Kirshner). Of course Mike Nesmith was a major musical talent waiting to be discovered.

The TV shows (and movie, Head) were fun to watch because they were produced by Hollywood’s new superstars of the late 1960s.  I recognized Rafaelson’s name for his directing of Five Easy Pieces. His co-producer, Bert Schneider was not familiar.  It turns out they were partners in a production company and Schneider was a producer/executive producer on such famous films as The Last Picture Show, Easy Rider, and Days of Heaven.  His 1974 Vietnam film, Hearts and Minds won  the Oscar for best documentary. A new DVD compilation, American Lost and Found: The BBS Story,  released last year includes most of the films that Bert and Bob made along with other members of their troupe, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Ellen Burstyn.

Those films seem to echo the line from The Monkees theme: “We’re the new generation and we’ve got something to say.”

So the next time you want some easy listening to sixties nostalgia, Take the Last Train to Clarksville and do have a Pleasant Valley Sunday.

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