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Pleasant Valley Sunday by The Monkees

Album: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones LtdReleased: 1967Charted:
3
11
  • Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote this about Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange, New Jersey, where they lived at the time. The Monkees fourth single, it is an ode to the simple life in happy suburbia. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mark - Edison, NJ
  • While studio musicians were brought in to play on many songs for The Monkees, the band did play on this one - for the most part. Peter Tork played piano and Mike Nesmith played the famous opening guitar riff. Chip Douglas, a former member of The Turtles who produced the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd album, played bass and came up with the guitar part, which was based on The Beatles "I Want to Tell You." He taught it to Nesmith, who overdubbed it twice. You can see him play the line during a close-up for the "video." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Barry Kesten - Bellmore, United States
  • Guitarist Mike Nesmith and drummer Micky Dolenz handled the vocals on this track (Dolenz also sang on "I'm A Believer"). Peter Tork of The Monkees explained to Bruce Pollack in 1982: "A notion of mine that I was real pleased with took over at one point, and that was having two guys sing in unison rather than one guy doubling his own voice. So you've got Mike, who was really a hard-nosed character, and Micky, who's a real baby face, and these two voices blended and lent each other qualities. It's not two separate voices singing together, it's really a melding of the two voices. Listening to that record later on was a joy."
  • Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork both cited this as their favorite Monkees song in a 1997 interview with Mojo.
  • This was used in a 2008 episode of the TV show Family Guy in a scene that was a homage to The Monkees, complete with a comic chase scene.
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Comments: 43

On July 7th 1967, the Monkees began a 29 date tour* in Hollywood, California...
At the time the quartet did not have a record on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; but nine days later on July 16th, 1967 their "Pleasant Valley Sunday" would enter the Top 100 at position #51; a little under a month later on August 13th it would peak at #3 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 10 weeks...
The record's B-side, "Words", also did quite well on the Top 100 and just miss making the Top 10; it peaked at #11 {for 1 week} on August 27th, 1967...
* The next day on July 8th Jimi Hendrix joined the tour as an opening act, but was dropped on July 16th when he was told that his music was not suitable for a young ‘bubble gum’ audience.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
A wry but fun poke at Suburbia. And what the CD's liner notes called the "reverb-drenched" ending is unique among all songs. Hank Cicalo was the one who made it sound like that.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
Listen to "I Want To Tell You" on the Beatles' "Revolver" album and you'll find that the riffs are almost identical, if with a different time signature. "I Want To Tell You" was recorded around June 1966, so it was a year ahead of PVS. Seems like at least one copy of "Revolver" must have found its way into the California music scene. In "The Monkees Live Summer Tour" video Peter Tork plays the opening riff on his Fender Stratocaster flawlessly, so he obviously had done his homework. The original however is pure Gretsch tone in all its twangy-metal-boxy glory.Tom - Freiburg, Germany
Can you imagine hearing this after hearing Jimi Hendrix play "Foxy Lady" for the opening act? That must have been strange.Willie - Scottsdale, Az
The Monkees exclusively used Gretsch guitars. As a high school musician back then I loved those Gretsch guitars. Mike Nesmith played a Gretsch White Falcon (both in 6-string ands 12-string versions) and, as a bass player, I loved that Peter Tork Gretsch model 6073 bass. A few years ago I saw this bass in a Sam Ash music shop in Springfield, NJ and it was love at first sight. I tried and tried to talk myself into buying it, but it just didn't feel right for me. It was selling for $1300 and now goes for more than $2700.Jake - East Brunswick, Nj
Blake, don't know why you would say that Carole King lacked character. Gerry Goffin wrote the lyrics, Carole wrote the melody. Carole and Gerry lived in a tract house in West Orange, if they stayed in an apartment in your building it was only for a short time. They had 2 daughters long before moving to NJ, so maybe you knew a different Carole King.Don Hertel - Dover, Nj
Yes, definitely similar to "Paperback Writer. But to me the most glaring sound similarity is the opening riff - Grand Funk's opening riff from "I'm Your Captain/Closer to Home" clearly inspired by the Pleasant Valley Sunday's opening riffGreg - New Haven, Ct
Wrong wrong wrong! Carole King, her husband and daughter lived in my apartment complex at 1480 Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange, where I grew up -otherwise known as Northfield Gardens. Her daughter was very young at the time and used to play with my sister. My mother vaguely knew her, since at that time people were much more connected than they are now. We were all a bit surprised that she had such a low opinion of everyone - we put it down to lack of character.Blake - West Orange, Nj
This song is a 60's masterpiece.Carole King is one of the all time greatest songwriters and the Monkees do a great job with the song.George - Belleville, Nj
The song was about Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange, NJ. Not an insane Asylum, not New York, and not California. Don Kirchner had moved from NY and was living in a mansion in South Orange, NJ and he talked Gerry & Carole into moving out of Brooklyn and to NJ. They bought a tract house off of Pleasant Valley Way, which was very different than a mansion in South Orange. Gerry even apologized many years later on an A&E documentary, to the people of suburban NJ as he felt the lyrics were a bit too sardonic. If you go to their old house in West Orange, the doorbell plays their first hit, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". The song was written while they lived in NJ, and their daughter Sherry even talked about how exciting it was when the Monkees visted their house, it was then that she realized how influencial her parents were. I'm not sure that Carole and Gerry even lived together in California, I think they both went there independently. Another fact about the song, the opening line "The local rock group down the street is trying hard to learn there song" is allegedly about The Myddle Class, a garage band from nearby Union County, NJ that recorded several Goffin/King songs, including "I Happen To Love You". The band contained David Palmer, who wrote the lyrics for Carole King's Wrap Around Joy Album, and Charles Larkey who was Carole's 2nd husband, The City bandmate, and father of her 2 kids, Molly and Levi.
As for Peter, he was an established musician. One of the producers of the Monkees TV show went to Stephen Stills who had just started with the Buffalo Springfield and asked if he would consider joining the fab feaux, and Stephen recommended his friend Peter Tork.
Don Hertel - Dover, Nj
This song has a great rifff.Once again taken from the Beatles but none the less a really good song.It's amazing to think that middle America considered the Monkees edgy and dangerous.Brian - Boston, Ma
I think it sounds a lot like Paperback writerBrian - Boston, Ma
Am I the only one who thinks that this song bears a resemblance to "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles, not just to "I Want to Tell You"?Larry - Wayne, Pa
According to Carole King (one of the co-writers) this song was about the San Fernando Valley, where she and Gerry Goffin lived.

In the "music video," Davy is playing a Gretsch 3/4 sized bass. All of the instruments for the television series were supplied by Gretsch.

Mike Nesmith plays a "blonde" Gretsch 12-string. He and George Harrison both had one.

There were a number of different endings to this song. The mono and stereo releases were just two of many. There is a different cut on "The Monkees' Golden Hits," which is different from some of the other greatest hits packages.
Anthony - Overland Park, Ks
Melissa,NY-----Leary was a great spokesperson for lysergic acid, but Albert Hoffmann actually invented it..or rather stumbled upon it during a scientific experiment. Other than that, hey, this is one of my all-time faves!...i'm with ya on that.Sam - Hipsville, Ca
Hi, I was searching for some info on this song and came across your website. I have a 10 inch demo of this record that says Regent sound studios with the address 25 W. 56th st, NY 19, NY phone # Circle 5 2630. Said A says Pleasant Valley Sunday, the Monkees and Screen Mems-Columbia music, also 45RPM, side b says the same, except the song is Words. All info is typed on except for Regents label which was printed. Any idea of a value to this item? ThanksJeffrey Bossak - Brooklyn, Ny
This song is about breaking away from the status-quo - the 1950s suburbia and embracing non-traditional roles and view points lest you fall into the proverbial bane of the American Dream. It might have been written while the Monkees' experiented with LSD but it is not about "doing" drugs (even if they were traveling through Pleasant Valley), - they didn't write this one.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
Im from Pleasant Valley, NY. And this song was ACTUALLY written about The Monkees weekly travel to Millbrook, NY (a town right outside of PLeasant Valley. There they went to Timothy Leary's estate where at the time, he had huge parties, full of hippies. (He was the inventor of LSD.) Thats how the song was written.Melissa - Pleasant Valley, Ny
Hi, everyone; I am a Newbie, here. I just happened upon thissite doing a search on something RE: Popular Music. FWIW, though--I have read that it was "Chip Taylor" who co-wrote "Angel In The Morning" . Taylor's real name is James Voight, and he is Angelina Jolie's Uncle. He also wrote "Wild Thing", which was performed by the Troggs.Littlebittybobby - Paris Springs, Mo
Not sure what kind of bass Davy is playing, but I can tell you one thing for sure....it wasn't plugged in!Jeff - Austin, Tx
I would like to know where you found that quote by Nesmith? I have always thought it was about being better than the guy next door so to speak, money and materialism.Pmcountry - Small Town, Pa
Excellent song by an excellent band! My husband and I use "Pleasant Valley Sunday" as a term for housing developments that pop up in the suburbs. The lyrics are SO applicable, even 40 years later....Jeanette - Blaine, Wa
When the wife was pregnant, I used to sing "another sexless day like Monday" to her. She would laugh, but we wouldn't do anything. ahhhh the memories.Bender - East West Virginia, Va
King and Goffin has a completely different arraingment on the demo for this song. However in her concerts, Carole King used the Monkees' arraingment, including the guitar riff that Mike Nesmith played.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Does anyone know what kind of bass davy is playing in here im trying to find one like that any guesses? or ways i can find outPaul - Scranton, Pa
This song is a scathing indictment of consumerism and materialism.
The Monkees were in tune with the Sixties Revolution.
Doug - Oakland, Ca
The single mono mix of Pleasant Valley Sunday has much tighter vocals, and a better resolve.Richard - Lansing, Mi
Pleasant Valley Sunday suffers from being recorded by the Monkees, a group often dismissed as artificial and incapable of producing anything of substance. However, knowing that Goffin and King wrote it would allow people to judge this song more fairly. It is a fine piece of commentary, without being vitriolic or too self righteous. To Wes in Springfield -- the New Left is why women are allowed to work and buses in Montgomery are integrated. Give 'em credit. You are right to suspect, however, that the members of the Monkees probably do have a few creature comforts these days.George - New Albany, In
This may be the best song of all time to play on sunday afternoons in the summer while cooking out and/or driving in your convertible. Fantastic opening riff, and the song still holds up quite well today. Very underated and deserved more airtime. My favorite Monkees song easily.Lance - Pittsburgh, Pa
My favorite Monkees song. This is the only Top 10 song by the Monkees that has musical contributions from all four members. Nearly all of their early stuff that went Top 10 or Top 40 was Micky Dolenz singing with Boyce, Hart and studio musicians with Micky making a contribution here and there to songs such by Davy Jones. It's also on of the best songs written by the legendary King-Goffin duo.David - Youngstown, Oh
Michael Nesmith: "I hate to burst your bubble, but Pleasant valley Sunday is about an insane asylum". It's nice to attribute it to an indictment of the middle class condition, but that's not what it is about. The singer is delusional.Chris - Boston, Ma
Peter Tork (And Mike Nesmith) were musicians in their own right before being cast for the show. Peter was a folk musician in Greenwich Village (that's New York, not L.A.)long before auditioning for the show. Peter plays (not "plays") piano, bass, guitar, organ, and drums. Which you would know if you did any research on the band. And don't say they it isn't worth your time because it very clearly *is* worth your time.
So the answer to your question is, yes, Peter played the actual piano part that was actually recorded and actually mixed as the actual piano part for this song; the one being discussed here, Pleasant Valley Sunday.
Jennifer - Kyle, Tx
I meant "played" in the sense of perhaps he sat at the piano and assisted the guy who actually played it on the record. Or maybe Peter "played" it in the sense that he recorded the piano part, and then the engineers tossed that jewel into the waste basket and invited a real musician into to record the actual version. Or maybe they had two pianos in the studio at the same time--one being "played" by Peter, and the other one being played by a nameless studio musician whose piano was actually plugged into the recording system. I guess that's what I meant by my question. These four lads were actors in the LA area (not so much Nesmith, although he too knew that he was signing onto an acting gig that would require him to pretend to be a musician). They were not hired for their musical skills. They were cast for their photogenic qualities and their ability to convince young TV viewers that they were a quartet living in a zany world of Monkee-mania.... Were you under the impression that they were really musicians?Dirk - Nashville, Tn
Actually I don't know about Chip Douglas being the brother of Jon Voight. However, I do know that Chip Taylor, not Chip Douglas wrote Angel of the Morning as recorded by Merilee Rush.
Peter did in fact play piano and arranged the bridge for Pleasanst Valley Sunday. As he did for Daydream Believer as well. Peter is accomplished on many instruments, including banjo, guitar, bass, and keyboards. The only Monkee that didn't play an insturment in the beginning was Davy.
Richard - Lansing, Mi
Chip Douglas, who produced this, was the brother of actor Jon Voigt (Angelina's dad, and an Oscar winner in his own right.)
Chip wrote the song "Angel of the Morning."
Garrett - Nashville, Tn
Dirk: I'm not sure why you put quotes on "played," But yes, Peter Tork did play piano on this and a couple of other records for the Monkees :)Jennifer - Kyle, Tx
great song, love the fade out when Mike Nesmith takes the lead vocal and Micky Dolenz' echoing voice in the background. priceless.John - Woburn, Ma
One of you Monkees experts out there--tell me: Is that really Peter Tork's piano work I'm hearing on the record? Or did the producers simply mean that Peter "played" the piano while the record was being made?Dirk - Nashville, Tn
The Monkees really shine on this one. Probably the best song they ever did.Johnnie - Bayville, Nj
I heard that this song was written about a convalescent home named " Pleasant Valley". Whereby an individual is inside looking out on a Sunday. The writer's state of mind in reality is of such that he can't function normally, yet see's the fun & happiness ( barbequing)with people on the outside.Craig - Chicago, Il
Ah, yes, another cultural relic of the Sixties. "Creature comfort goals/They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see." See what? Certainly not all the trash left behind after Woodstock, for instance (which I take as a metaphor for the New Left rhetoric of the time - all the beautiful people gathering for three days of peach and love, and befouling farmland). While is much to condemn middle-class ways, there is also much to recommend it. In fact, I like this song; I just disagree with the stance behind the lyrics. Or are the former Monkees all idealistically living in communes in their later years? No charcoal burning in their backyards?Wes - Springfield, Va
This song is the best satirical commentary on middle-class society ever. I love it! just think about it: "Another Pleasant Valley Sunday here in status symbol land."Annabeth - Kutztown, Pa
(Carole King/Gerry Goffin)

Also issued as Colgems Single #1007, July 10, 1967
Highest Chart Position: #3

Lead Vocals: Micky Dolenz
Backing Vocals & Lead Guitar: Michael Nesmith
Backing Vocals & Percussion: Davy Jones
Piano: Peter Tork
Rhythm Guitar: Bill Chadwick
Bass: Chip Douglas
Drums: Eddie Hoh
Recorded At: RCA Studios, Hollywood
Date: June 10 & 11, 1967
"Pleasant Valley Sunday", written by Goffin/King, became The Monkees' fourth single. This excellent song was sung by Micky and featured a guitar riff written by Douglas (influenced by The Beatles' "I Want To Tell You") and played by Nesmith. The mono and stereo mixes of "Pleasant Valley Sunday" differ considerably. Peter would cut the song twice as a solo artist (as a single with the New Monks in 1981 and with James Lee Stanley on Two Man Band in 1996) and the Monkees would recut the song in 1997 as part of a medley for their TV special.

On CD:
Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, LTD. (1995), Rhino Records R2 71793 (LP mix)
The Monkees Music Box (2001), Rhino Records R2 76706 (single mix)
Ted - Loveland, Co
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