Pleasant Valley Sunday
|"Pleasant Valley Sunday"|
US single cover
|Single by The Monkees|
|from the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.|
|Released||July 10, 1967|
|Recorded||10 & 11 June 1967|
|Studio||RCA Victor Studios|
|Label||Colgems No. 1007|
|The Monkees singles chronology|
"Pleasant Valley Sunday" is a song by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, most famous for the version recorded by the Monkees in 1967. Goffin's and King's inspiration for the name was a street named Pleasant Valley Way, in West Orange, New Jersey where they were living at the time. The road follows a valley through several communities among the Watchung Mountains. The lyrics were a social commentary on status symbols, creature comforts, life in suburbia and "keeping up with the Joneses". It became one of the Monkees' most successful singles.
Chip Douglas, producer of the Monkees' music during 1967, also played bass guitar on some of their recordings. (This freed up Peter Tork to play keyboards.) He showed lead guitarist Michael Nesmith the lead riff used throughout the song. Nesmith doubletracked the lead guitar riff, while Peter Tork and Davy Jones added piano and maraca parts. "Fast" Eddie Hoh, a session musician, played drums. Micky Dolenz sang lead vocals, and was the only member of The Monkees who did not play an instrument on the track.
For an ending, Douglas and engineer Hank Cicalo decided to "keep pushing everything up", adding more and more reverberation and echo until the sound of the music became unrecognizable, before fading out the recording. Separate mono and stereo versions were mixed for single and album records.
The single peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and was featured in the second season of their television series. The song also appeared on the fourth Monkees album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., in November 1967. While mono copies of the album had the same version heard on the single, stereo copies had a version using a different take of the first verse and an additional backing vocal during the break. (A different stereo mix, more closely replicating the single version, appeared on the 1991 Monkees box set Listen to the Band.)
In February 1986, MTV featured a marathon of episodes of the series titled Pleasant Valley Sunday, which sparked a second wave of Monkeemania. The reunited Dolenz, Tork, and Davy Jones, already on tour, went from playing small venues to playing arenas and stadiums in the following weeks.
The B-side to the single, "Words", was written by Boyce and Hart. On the Pisces album the song is introduced by Tork's brief spoken-word track "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky".
Interpretation of lyrics
In a 1978 interview with Blitz Magazine, Mike Nesmith jokingly corrected the interviewer who regarded the song as being about suburban America: "I hate to pop your balloon about 'Pleasant Valley Sunday'. That song was actually written about a mental institution."
- Micky Dolenz – lead vocal
- Michael Nesmith – electric guitar and harmony vocal
- Peter Tork – electric piano
- Davy Jones – backing vocal, maracas
- Bill Chadwick – acoustic guitar
- Chip Douglas – bass guitar
- "Fast" Eddie Hoh – drums
In popular culture
- Grand Funk Railroad's 1970 song "I'm Your Captain (Closer to Home)" opens with a guitar intro played by Mark Farner that borrows directly from "Pleasant Valley Sunday's" guitar hook.
- The pop punk band The Mr. T Experience covered the song on their 1986 debut album Everybody's Entitled to Their Own Opinion.
- The Wedding Present covered the song on their 1992 album Hit Parade 1.
- The Christian band Code of Ethics covered the song on their 1995 album Arms Around the World.
- The track "Pleasant Valley Monday" from the 2001 album Puroland by noise artist Merzbow was inspired by this song.
- Mark Mothersbaugh covered the song for a 2002 episode of the TV series Hidden Hills.
- In the 2005 Gilmore Girls season 5 episode "To Live and Let Diorama", the song is heard playing at the music store owned by Sophie Bloom (a character played by Carole King, who co-wrote the song).
- Neal Morse, lead singer of Transatlantic, and former lead singer of Spock's Beard, covered the song on his 2006 album Cover to Cover.
- In the 2008 Family Guy season 6 episode "McStroke", this song plays in the background during a classic hallway chase scene.
- Jazz singer Kurt Elling covered the song on his 2012 album 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project.
- The song is performed in Act II of the 2013 jukebox musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
- Friedlander, Matt (September 12, 2016). "It's the 50th Anniversary of 'The Monkees' TV Debut". ABC News. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- Papadatos, Markos (March 8, 2019). "Review: The Monkees honor musical legacy of Peter Tork at The Paramount". Digital Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- La Gorce, Tammy. "New Jersey's Magic Moments", The New York Times, October 30, 2005. Accessed November 25, 2007.
- Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd (Media notes). RCA Victor. 1967. RD-7912.
- Lustig, Jay (October 21, 2014). "'Pleasant Valley Sunday', Carole King demo". NJArts.net. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- S. A. Dispoto. "blastintopastmikenesmith". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on August 30, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Photographic image of Blitz article" (JPG). S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
- Greatest Hits (CD). The Monkees. Rhino. 1995.CS1 maint: others (link)
- "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
- "Billboard.com - Hot 100 - Week of August 19, 1967". Billboard.com. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
- "Official Charts - Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 26th August 1967". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
- "Top 100 Hits of 1967/Top 100 Songs of 1967". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
- Lefcowitz, Eric (1985). The Monkees Tale. Berkeley, CA: Last Gasp Press. ISBN 0-86719-338-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Baker, Glenn A.; Czarnota, Tom; Hogan, Peter (1986). Monkeemania: The True Story of the Monkees. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-00003-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)