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Different Drum

by

Linda Ronstadt



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

The made-for-TV group The Monkees were given very little control of their musical output, which didn't sit well with their guitarist Mike Nesmith, who found out after he joined the ensemble that session musicians would be playing on their albums and hired guns would write their songs. Nesmith was a talented performer and songwriter, and he proved it with this tune, which he wrote before he joined The Monkees. He explained in 1971: "Most of the songs I did write, they didn't want, so on the last few albums I didn't contribute much in the way of material. I took them 'Different Drum' and they said all it needed was a hook. They asked me to change it and told me it was a stiff. I couldn't change it, and took it to Linda Ronstadt, who recorded it two weeks later, and it became Number One."
Like "Me And Bobby McGee," this is a song written by a guy that switched genders when a female recorded it. With a male narrator, the girl is tying him down, and he has to leave her to strike out on his own. With Ronstadt singing it, the girl become the one who is reigned in, and leaves her man so she can do her own thing. Notice that she ends up describing the guy as "pretty," which makes a lot more sense when it was Nesmith singing about a girl.
Nesmith recorded this himself in 1972 on a solo album called And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'.. Nesmith had a substantial solo output after The Monkees TV show was canceled.
Ronstadt was with her first band, The Stone Poneys, when she recorded this. It was credited to the group even though she was the only band member to appear on the song; studio musicians were brought in to back her up - many of the same Los Angeles session players who played on The Monkees records. When ths song became a hit, it prompted Ronstadt to leave The Stone Poneys to start a solo career.
Mike Nesmith played a short, intentionally awful version of this song on the "Too Many Girls" episode of The Monkees TV show. The episode aired December 19, 1966, which was shortly before Ronstadt released the song.
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Comments (18):

It was originally recorded by some folkies from the East Coast called the Greenbriar Boys. The Linda Ronstadt version is pretty much a note for note cover. I think it was the first song Mike Nesmith sold.
- david, Astoria, NY
"It's not you, it's me"...yeah right!
- John, Beltsville, MD
No doubt this a great song, until the woman your in love with plays it for you to explain why you and her cant be together. Happened to me.
- Bobby, Grand Rapids, MI
Wow, the video on this page is priceless! A young Linda Ronstandt standing on a tiny stage and belting out those soaring vocals "So-o goodbye..." without the lush strings backing her--just a small band--the Stone Ponys, I suppose. One of the best videos I've seen here.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
Nesmith has released studio and live versions of this song. He mixes a talking blues style with occasional visits to the melody lines that Rondstadt sings in her version. Rondstadt seems anguished; Nesmith is straight-forward, matter-of-fact. He uses an additional verse, mostly spoken, prior to the last one: I feel pretty sure that you'll find a man who'll take a lot more than I ever could or can, and you;ll settle down with, and I know that you'll be happy.
- Bob, Orange, TX
Nesmith does this great song in a talking blues style that wanders from time to time into the melody lines that Rondstadt used. He also uses an additional verse prior to the last one (think in terms of a long run-on sentence): I feel pretty sure that you'll find a man who'll take a lot more than I ever could or can and you'll settle down with him and I know that you'll be happy.
- Bob, Orange, TX
I had no idea she sang this song, it's gorgeous.
- Theresa, Murfreesboro, TN
"Knock it" and "market" only rhyme if you are from Boston.
- Jay, Brooklyn, NY
Michael "Nez" Nesmith wrote this song about a guy who is not ready to commit to one girl, and Linda Ronstadt recorded it as a song about a girl who isnt ready to commit to one guy... Its a great song, whoever sings it IMO.
- Malicious Matt, Squatney, -
Mike sang this in a Monkee's episode (a part of it, anyway). The Monkee's were appearing on a TV show and they brought Mike on and he played a part of it really fast and he was mumbling through it (trying to be like a backwoods bumpkin). I'm pretty sure this was the same episode where Mickey kept doing impressions and saying 'You're the dirty rat that killed my brother!!' and Peter was doing magic tricks. How I miss that show....
- Madison, Norway, ME
Sorry that's not strings -- it's a baroque-style piano harpsichord, isn't it?
- Guy, Wellington, New Zealand
Incredibly catchy tune -- one of my faves. The lyrics are one of those tear jerkers about some poor sap who can't get the message -- see also The Doobies' "What a Fool Believes". The twangly baroque-style strings are cool but the best thing is Ronstadt's fantastic voice. If she sang this to me I don't think I'd ever get over it!
- Guy, Wellington, New Zealand
This is also notable for the bizarre combination of a country music lyric and Ronstadt's somewhat emphasized twang with British psych-pop 'classical' strings and harpsichord a la Left Banke.
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
The Stone Poneys were 2 other guys besides Linda.
About 4 years later, when, as a solo artist, she needed a backing band for a tour, she hired some random musicians who were hanging around the Troubabdor (L.A. nightclub that was a Folk mecca in the early 70's).
Included in that backing band were Glenn Frey and Don Henley, who later recruited Randy Meisner, then Bernie Leadon, finally forming the Eagles.
- Garrett, Nashville, TN
Didn't some of the Stone Poney's go on to form the Eagles?
- Forrest, Los Angeles, CA
This was the song that put linda Ronstadt on the musical map in 1968. One of my favorite songs from that year.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
Perhaps the most fabulous and versatile female voice in popular music, she has handled folk, country, rock and roll, soul, punk-edged rock as well as classic ballads from the 30s and 40s, Gilbert and Sullivan, La Boheme, and even Spanish Language material with her powerful emotional beautiful voice. Mike, Ipswich, England.
- Mike, Ipswich, England
The Stone Poneys took their name from Delta bluesman Charlie Patton's song "Stone Poney Blues".
- Jeff, Boston, MA
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