Hear the song that inspired The Monkees theme song
Thank the Dave Clark 5 for that finger-snapping intro.
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A drum thumps. Micky Dolenz's golden tones gently warn, "Here we come..." and by the time he reaches that third word, the whole band joins in. Over the rest of the intro, finger-snapping helps keep time until The Monkees theme song ends and the next episode starts.
This shortened version used to start each episode lasts just under a minute, but they make sure to edit the theme song down right, so they can work in that crucial lyric that basically an entire generation vibed with: "We're the young generation, and we've got something to say."
Officially called "(Theme From) The Monkees," The Monkees theme song charted all over the world and became so much more than just the catchy tune fans heard to introduce the show that kicked off Monkeemania. Most fans of the Monkees know it was penned by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the songwriting team behind many of the Monkees first hits, but there's a little bit more to know about the songwriting on this key Monkees tune than you may have previously realized.
When Boyce and Hart were writing The Monkees theme song, they had a very clear reference point: The Dave Clark 5's "Catch Us If You Can." It was one of that band's biggest hits, released in 1965, just a year ahead of The Monkees premiere.
It topped out at No. 4 on U.S. pop charts, so it makes sense that it became inescapable for the songwriting duo tapped to write The Monkees theme. Take a listen now, and you'll start to see the springboard for the song that would become one of classic TV's best-remembered themes.
When "Catch Us If You Can" starts, it's not a drum that kicks it off, but a guitar. The emphatic first stroke lands a lot like Micky Dolenz's drum, though, and once the finger-snapping starts, the similarities between the songs quickly become undeniable. Instead of "Here we come," the first line the Dave Clark 5 sings is "Here they come again." Revisit the Monkees theme song to compare:
These familiar lyrics continue throughout both songs. Where the Monkees sing "We go wherever we want to," the Dave Clark 5 sings, "Now we gotta run," but where the Monkees feel "restless," the Dave Clark 5 confesses they feel "angry." The DC5 lyric leads the band to sing "We will yell with all our might," which is as close as that song comes to the Monkees' most iconic line, "We're the young generation, and we've got something to say."
The sentiments of each song are mostly in line with one another, but ultimately, the Monkees opt for more fun, characteristic to the nature of the show, professing "We're just tryin' to be friendly" and "We're too busy singing to put anybody down." The DC5 goes a different route, singing, "no more time for fun" – which sounds like the opposite of "monkeying around."
There are also subtle musical similarities and differences. Where the Monkees wait approximately 12 seconds to bring in the band after the song starts, the Dave Clark 5 delayed a little longer, past the 20-second mark. However, this matter of seconds can't obscure the rapid drums that bring in the band on both songs, which are practically a mirror image of one another.
Although the Sixties made bands like the Monkees and the Beatles a massive worldwide phenomena, the Dave Clark 5's legacy shouldn't be overlooked. The rockers even once toppled the Beatles off the charts, so it's no wonder Boyce and Hart saw the DC5 as an inspiration for the band designed to do the same thing.