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Monday, Monday by The Mamas & the Papas

Album: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And EarsReleased: 1966Charted:
  • While awaiting the release of "California Dreamin'," band member Denny Doherty was prodding songwriter John Phillips to come up with some new material. Phillips said he would come back in the morning with "A song with universal appeal." Ignoring the sarcastic comments from the group members, Phillips came up with this. It's about the lousy feeling that comes with the end of the weekend and beginning of another workweek.
  • In a Songfacts interview, Alan Merrill relates the story of how his cousin - the noted songwriter Laura Nyro - got invited to the Monterey Pop Festival, which was her first major live appearance. Songwriter John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas called her up and invited her to join them in Monterey. She hung up and told the news to her cousin Alan, who asked "That's great isn't it?" Nyro responds, "No, I've never done a gig. All I've ever done is recording." She had great anxiety about not having her own stage act. This anxiety, together with the personal problems of The Mamas & The Papas (Doherty was drinking heavily at the time, trying to get over Michelle Phillips and their affair), might have contributed to the gloomy atmosphere cast over the Monterey festival which had such dismal reviews. (Check out our interview with Alan Merrill.)
  • This was the first Hot 100 chart-topper with a day in the week in the title, and the only one with "Monday." ("Manic Monday" by the Bangles and "Rainy Days And Mondays" by the Carpenters both stalled at #2.)
  • Denny Doherty, who sang lead on this song for The Mamas & the Papas thought very little of "Monday Monday" when they recorded it. "Nobody likes Monday, so I thought it was just a song about the working man," he said. "Nothing about it stood out to me; it was a dumb f--kin' song about a day of the week."

    As you can imagine, he was taken by surprise when the song became a huge hit.

    Doherty wasn't alone in his incredulity: Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips didn't like the song either, and John Phillips claimed he had no idea what the song meant.
  • The Mamas & the Papas used top-tier Los Angeles studio musicians on their recordings. On this track, Larry Knechtel played keyboards, Joe Osborn played bass, Hal Blaine was on drums and P.F. Sloan played guitar. Sloan was the baby of the bunch, just 20 years old when the song was released. He describes it as a "magical session," and says that he gave Blaine the idea for the drum riff based on a song P.F. had worked on when he was a member of the Grass Roots. Sloan used a tremolo effect on his guitar part, which he overdubbed later.
  • This was the first #1 US hit by a group comprised of at least two men and two women.
  • "Monday, Monday" was the group's third single. "Go Where You Wanna Go" was issued first and went nowhere, but their next release was "California Dreamin'," which was a phenomenon. When that song was having its run, radio stations started playing "Monday, Monday" off the album, so by the time it was released as a single, it was already widely anticipated and quickly rose to #1.
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Comments: 20

The song Monday, Monday was about the Kent State shooting. John Philips talked to Terri Gross on NPR several weeks ago and confirmed the story behind the lyrics.Samantha - Usa
The studio version of the song can't compare to the live version at Monterey. Cass hits the high notes and Big Roger his in a classic duet. Cass looks like she's in competition with the 'Papas' when singing the refrain. I would rate this version of Monday Monday as an all time classic in American pop/folk music. Seriously, four part harmony doesn't get any better than this. John Denver, who started out as a classic folk singer was in awe of Cass and said she was the best vocalist to come out of the 60's As what the song means you are best going with Phillips explanation. It means something different to everyone. A great song.Sal - Saginaw, Mi
Monday has always been known for being the worst day having a hangover from a weekend of partying. The song came after Gene Clark (the byrds) and Denny unveiled their involvement with Michele. The sixties was known as the age of experimentation and free love. Consequences included alcohol, drugs, and sexual perversions including the unspeakable, all facing the realities by monday evening.Michael Scott - Punta Gorda, Fl
One of my favorite songs of all time. I have been guessing for years what it meant, and, after reading these comments, realize that no one really knows. Maybe it means nothing - just words put together over the weekend under pressure. To be produced, of course, on Monday morning.Jeff - Orlando, Fl
From what I've read, Mama Cass had a lot of trouble singing this song--the female part was a little too high for her low alto voice. The result was that when "Monday Monday" was performed live, the group actually played the song in a lower key.Ted - Phoenix, Az
To me, it's pretty obvious. A man and woman spend a weekend together. And now, he (or she) is worried that the other will be gone the following Monday - that it was just a weekend fling, and the singer wanted it to last longer.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Such a beautifully written and harmonic piece of music. I will never tire of it....and when I see friends and family down...I will sing this Song. It has always been a cushion, a refuge, a place to go when one is down. SnowSnow - Sierra Foothills, Ca
Regarding the pause and Mark from Lancaster, OH's comment: In New York, the pause was sometimes interrupted by the automated call letters of the oldies radio station (WCBS-FM). So glad they dropped the "Jack" format and went back to playing oldies.Miguel - Brooklyn, Ny
What a haunting song...and production by this great group! Bravo, John Phillips.RIPSteve Dotstar - Los Angeles, Ca
This song is #8 on my all-time list. I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis once wrote, "And the next day was Monday morning." He--and this song--were conveying a state of mind and spirit, I think. It's a letdown after the weekend, and full of uncertainty about what is to come. ("Monday morining couldn't guarantee/That Monday evening you'd be here with me.") And I've always loved the Mamas and Papas' unique sound. Did you ever notice that in "Midnight Cowboy," some of the songs are performed with a group that sounds a lot like the Mamas and Papas? Does anybody know what they were called?Musicmama - New York, Ny
To Howard, St. Louis Park, MN:
You are VERY correct about using this song to check your balance! lol
J_bryon - Milladore/monroe, Wi
The song is about a friend's suicideTi - New York, Ny
i love all their stuff and this one is one of my favoritesMadalyn - Greensburg, Pa
This was the first song I ever heard that used a pause as a musical device, and it may have been the first one ever. You've heard it--about three seconds in length, just after the second chorus, toward the end of the song. There were lots of imitators after this, and the pause became commonplace, but when Monday Monday was first played, any number of DJ's thought the song had ended right there and started talking.
M Kinsler
Mark - Lancaster, Oh
It's a great song to check the balance in your car or home stereo since John and Denny can be heard in one speaker and Cass and Michelle in the other.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
Mama Cass died on a Monday....Keith Major - Bristol, England
What perfect, almost beach-boys like harmonies
in this.......so southern california in the mid-60's sounding......also a song with a famous
false ending..we always know the part when it
seems to stop...very cool for the time
Scott - Chicago, Il
John Phillips has said that even he isn't quite sure what it's about, and he wrote it.Ashley - Memphis, Tn
Denny and Michelle hated the song and when they were told it was to be their next single Michelle was horrified and thought it would end their careers. It shot the top of the charts and became their biggest selling single. Denny was quoted as saying "Who knew? - What do I know about music!" (tongue in cheek). Michelle has since said that she quite likes it now.Hilton - St. Albans, England
I think that Monday Monday is about a womanJoe - Ocala, Fl
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