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I'm A Believer by The Monkees

Album: More Of The MonkeesReleased: 1966Charted:
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  • Neil Diamond wrote this song. He had his first big hit earlier in 1966 with "Cherry, Cherry," which got the attention of Don Kirshner, who was looking for material for The Monkees. Kirshner was sold on "I'm A Believer," and as part of the deal, allowed Diamond to record the song as well. Diamond's version was released on his 1967 album Just For You. The Monkees version benefited from exposure on their television series.
  • This was The Monkees second single, after "Last Train To Clarksville." It was released during the first season of their TV show.
  • The Monkees sang on this, but did not play any instruments. The producers used session musicians because they were not convinced The Monkees could play like a real band. This became a huge point of contention, as the group fought to play their own songs.
  • Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz sang lead on this. Dolenz also handled lead vocals on "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Mary Mary" and "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone."
  • Neil Diamond had intended the song to be recorded by the Country artist Eddy Arnold, and was surprised when record executive Don Kirshner passed it instead to The Monkees.
  • Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith didn't believe this would be a hit, complaining to the producer, Jeff Barry, "I'm a songwriter, and that's no hit." Jeff Barry banned him from the studio while Micky Dolenz recorded his lead vocal. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2)
  • A cover version by Smash Mouth was featured in the 2001 movie Shrek and went to #25 in the US. Diamond wrote the song "You Are My Number One" for Smash Mouth's next album. (thanks, Linda - Oudenaarde, Belgium)
  • Mojo magazine July 2008 asked Neil Diamond if he resented at all the Monkees' success with this song at a time when his own recording career was less successful. He replied: "I was thrilled, because at heart I was still a songwriter and I wanted my songs on the charts. It was one of the songs that was going to be on my first album, but Donny Kirshner, who was their music maven, hears 'Cherry, Cherry' on the radio and said, 'Wow, I want one like that for The Monkees!' He called my producers, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich - 'Hey, does this kid have any more?' And they played him the things I had cut for the next album and he picked 'I'm A Believer,' 'A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You' and 'Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow),' and they had some huge hits. But the head of my record company freaked. He went through the roof because he felt that I had given #1 records away to another group. I couldn't have cared less because I had to pay the rent and The Monkees were selling records and I wasn't being paid for my records."
  • The single had an advance order of 1,051,280 copies and went gold within two days of release.
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Comments: 36

On June 20th 1971, "I'm A Believer" by Neil Diamond entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #98; eventually it peaked at #51 and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100.Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On December 17th 1966 the Monkees performed "I'm A Believer" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
Two weeks earlier on December 4th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on Christmas Day 1966 it peaked at #1 (for 7 weeks) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100 (which means almost 50% of the time it was on the chart it was the #1 record)...
They also performed the record's B-side, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", and it also made the Top 100 at position #20...
R.I.P. Davy Jones (1945 - 2012).
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
The Neil Diamond version is on his compilation CD "Classics: The Early Years". I like both the Monkees and Smash Mouth versions. I have a Various Artists compilation CD titled "New Wave Hits of the 80s: Just Can’t Get Enough, Vol. 1" where track 14 is an interesting version of this song by Tin Huey. Great songs certainly get around.Gary - Clementon, Nj
I disagree, GrandpopDk. I think he sings, "Aw..., love was out to get me".Jim - West Palm Beach, Fl
Always wondered - now for 46 years - why no one has mentioned - even after 18 takes - that the producer still releases a single with a failure on it. It is obvious that the singer sings "A love was out .." at the wrong place and then suddenly stops. He has however limited the failure as he hits the right key!!! Could that be the reason??Grandpopdk - Odense, Denmark
Im a believer in the american pride with love on its side.Kimberly - Landing, Nj
Nice dancing Davy :)Olivia - Philadelphia, Pa
This is a hit song and a classic from the 60's.I think this song is a good example of what a pop rock song should be.It has a very catchy melody,and why not,because it was written by one of the great songwriters,Neil Diamond.One of my favorite songs in my childhood,and still is to this day.George - Belleville, Nj
Say what you want about the Monkees....but in 1967, they sold more records than the Beatles and Rolling Stones COMBINED! They also had four #1 albums in one year and sold 5 million copies of one album! Not too shabby for a donny kirschner studio produced group....who DID play live concerts....and their OWN instruments!Rick - Belfast, Me
Say what you want about the Monkees but thier music had some good riffs [inspired of course from beatle songs] but I like that they had guitar in their music Unlike the Partrige family wich came out a few years later' The partrige family producers thought electric guitar was too edgy for a family sitcom. As a result we the veiwers were treated to some killer harpsichord solos.Brian - Boston, Ma
Didn't the Beatles do this song, too?Scarlett - Denver, Co
Doug Barber - It had a reputation as a drug song, at least among the paranoid frantic-religious set. I'll repeat here what I said on the "Daydream Believer" page: According to Dr. David Noebel of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, an interview with Mrs. Judith Kutch in the Columbus, Ohio Citizen-Journal for 5/9/1967 reveals the following: "Better than half of all pop music is inspired by LSD experience. The Monkees' number, 'I'm a Believer', is ostensibly a love song, but we all know it refers to drugs." Leaving me to ask, who is "we"?Ekristheh - Halath, United States
Good song from the 60's written by Neil Diamond.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
The way I remember the Star Trek quote... was that *Micky* was quoted as saying the Monkees were actors PORTRAYING a rock band, just as the cast of Star Trek was just a bunch of actors PORTRAYING a starship crew, and then Mike came back (I'm thinking this was all after the breakup...maybe in the 70s, but I could be wrong there) and said Micky was wrong, because the Monkees really did play together...and there was no comparison to Star Trek unless the cast of Star Trek could actually fly a Starship in real life.Miguel - Chico, Ca
i do like this song, but, sorry, i like the counting crows version better. 4 sum reason evrytime counting crows makes their own version of a song i wind up likn tht 1 bttr!!Tori - New Orleans, La
Actually, I like both the Monkees and the Smash Mouth versions of "I'm a Believer." Amazingly long lived song for both the Monkees and "Shrek."Pat - Albuquerque, Nm
I like this song- a bit cheesy, but good.Louise - Newcastle, United Kingdom
The version by Smash Mouth is pretty darn good, but I prefer the Monkees' version. Love it!Meredith - Wauwatosa, Wi
OK, I know this song is almost the definition of "bubble gum." But I love it. Yes, the song is not the most emotionally complex verse I've ever heard, but it's pretty damned good for what it is. And the organ and guitar work great with each other, and this song. Nothing wrong with listening to something like this before you get back to Nick Drake!Musicmama - New York, Ny
Carole King can be heard singing backing vocals on this track (especially near the end).
She co-wrote several Monkees songs, although not this one.
Van - Philadelphia, Pa
According to Andrew Sandoval's Monkees sessionography, 18 takes of the backing track were recorded, the final being the master. Neil Diamond played acoustic guitar on the Monkees' version.James - Seattle, Wa
British rocker Robert Wyatt's 1974 cover was pretty good and worth tracking down.David - Wokingham, England
This was actually The Monkees 1st hit in the UK. It was also their only number 1 too. Topped the charts in January 1967.Darren - Hull, England
FWIW, Jeff Barry produced this. On first hearing the finished version, the Monkees despised it, especially Mike Nesmith who declared, "That ain't no hit."Garrett - Nashville, Tn
Doug,
I very much doubt that this was at all a drug song. At the time he wrote it, Neil Diamond was a barely-known, struggling act living on Long Island with his schoolteacher wife.
In fact, he has said he wrote it as a Country song, and was trying to get Eddy Arnold to sing it.
Garrett - Nashville, Tn
I have Neil Diamond's rendition on a 45 I got at a yard sale or something and was quite shocked at how badly it wreaked. And I'm a Neil Diamond fan! I think the organ-guitar interplay that forms the main hook of the Monkees' version was more than a little bit influenced by the organ-guitar interplay on The Beatles' "I'm Looking Throuh You."Fyodor - Denver, Co
i heard that this song is about someone getting introduced to herion is that true?Doug Barber - Jamesville, Ny
My kid sure likes the Shrek version.Rob - Vancouver, Canada
"I'm a Believer" spent an incredible seven weeks atop Billboard's U.S. Singles Chart, from December 31, 1966 to February 11, 1967. The song hit number-8 only 2-weeks after its debut.Scott - Harrisburg, Pa
I gotta say I was never a fan of this song, and I think it's too bad it's the one they are most known for. If you ever get the chance, check out "All of Your Toys", which wasn't released until the mid 80's as part of Rhino's Missing Links collection. That song would have been the Monkees biggest hit, and it was one of the first songs where they all played their own instruments.Brian - Providence, Ri
When it was revealed that the Monkees didn't play the instruments on this, or any of their other early hits, Michael Nesmith said "To say that The Monkees are a band is like saying Lenord Nimoy is a Vulcan!"Ken - Louisville, Ky
Yes, they did eventually get to play their own songs. They were forbidden to do so on thier first couple of albums because of a controling song manager (Don Kirshner). He was eventually fired and the guys got to play their own instruments on their third album "Headquarters"Jessica - Milaca, Mn
Studio wizard Mike Deasy was the member of the wrecking crew playing guitar on this and all of the Monkees hits, they never did play on their own stuff.Mike - Seattle, Wa
EMF (the English indie act best known for their 1991 hits "Unbelievable" and "I Believe") made No.5 in the UK with a cover version of this song in cpllaboration with the popular comedy duo Reeves and Mortimer. Inclusion of words based on 'believe' in their song titles seemed to be a good omen for EMF, as these three records were their their only big hits over the world!Dave - Cardiff, Wales
Brazilian guitarplayer, singer and songwriter Lulu Santos made a version of this song for the Portuguese named Não acredito, which means.. "I don´t believe"! In other comment i´ll try to re-translate it to English.Luiz - Rio De Janeiro, Canada
This is one of Davy Jones's favorite Monkees songs. He said so at the Schuylkill County fair show on August 2, 2003.Lisa - A Town In, Pa