Certain Songs #1195: The Monkees – “Daydream Believer”

Album: The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
Year: 1968

One of the many ironies about The Monkees was that their least photogenic guy was their best singer by miles, which kinda undercut the “American Beatles” vibe they were going for, as manifested by the casting of an actual Brit, David Jones, as “the cute one,” Davy.

There was another David Jones on the British rock scene in the mid-1960s, but the story has always been that to avoid any kind of confusion between the two David Joneses — though there wasn’t ever any confusion a decade later between Mick Jones of The Clash & Mick Jones of Foreigner — he changed his last name to “Bowie,” which led me to wonder: forget Stephen Stills, what would The Monkees as both a TV show and a band been like had the other David Jones tried out?

I mean, while he wasn’t quite as conventionally cute as Davy Jones, Bowie was no doubt dripping with charisma even back then, and his love of artifice might have made him as much of a fit as Jones was. No doubt he would have been fine with the “falling in love” sparkle eye effect — the precursor to the “heart eyes” emoji — that they used on Jones whenever he saw a gear bird.

Hell, the TV show was cancelled early enough that Bowie still could have written and released “Space Oddity,” in 1969 and gone on to have the rest of his career while the other David Jones continued on with his theatrical career. And while its hard to imagine Head being even weirder than it actually was, with Bowie on board, it no doubt would have been, because David Bowie.

What I can totally imagine, though, is David Bowie singing “Daydream Believer.” And now, so can you. Listen hard enough, and you can totally hear him on the the utterly pop-tastic chorus.

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Written by former Kingston Trio member and future California soft rocker, John Stewart, “Daydream Believer” was — like most of the songs Jones sang on — more traditionally pop than the rest of the Monkees singles. Suffused with horns and strings and a pretty piano riff that may or may not have been played by Peter Tork, “Daydream Believer” lived and died on its chorus.

And the chorus lived and died on the tiny pause that Jones takes just before he sings “daydream believer.” With his voice rising on “to a“, and landing hard on “daydream”, it’s one of those pauses that lasts for just a second — or even less — and yet somehow contains entire universes of beauty and meaning, taking “Daydream Believer” out of realm of cheesy manufactured pop song and makes it something mysterious and maybe even profound.

At the very least, that moment helped make “Daydream Believer” the final #1 U.S. single — to date! — for The Monkees and, at the very least, an indicator that they got the right David Jones all along. Though I would love to have heard a “Moonage Daydream Believer” mashup.

“Daydream Believer”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Comments are closed.