The Monkees' “Porpoise Song (Theme From HEAD)” Vs. The Beatles' “Strawberry Fields Forever”

With chatter about the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's and “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” single and reissues of two of the Monkees' best albums (Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn N Jones Ltd.) fresh in my mind, I am compelled to compare two of the best songs by these iconic pop groups via the magnetic charm of YouTube.

The Monkees' “Porpoise Song” (written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King) is some kind of ultimate watery bliss pop hatched from cynical music-biz vets looking to cash in on da yoof craze of the late-'60s (back when all candy and soft drinks were laced with the finest LSD). Seriously, I can imagine Brian Eno turning another green shade of envy over the gorgeous, enwombing stasis of this song. It represents Micky Dolenz's finest moment on the mic, too.

“Porpoise Song” seems to be loosely based upon “Strawberry Fields Forever” (both are nostalgia-laden reveries and poignant paeans to childhood), especially if you believe the Monkees to be a cynical marketing scheme devised by American record-biz moguls trying to fabricate a Yank Fab Four to capitalize (albeit late) on Beatlemania. But the Beatles song carries a sinister undercurrent that's absent from the Monkees tune; there's an uneasiness beneath the antiquated psychedelic idyll. When all the sound drops out near song's end and then returns with that mad, warbly Mellotron and those dread-filled martial rhythms and harrowing, phased guitars come into earshot, you can feel a wrenching sense of doom looming over these charmed lads.

Hell, I wouldn't want to live in a world without either song.

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