Songs Everybody Should Know
“Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas (1966)
Why would a song writer think that anyone could relate to a day of the week? I guess because it is a universal experience – wake up on Monday morning (“Manic Monday” the Bangles, “I Don’t Like Mondays”, Boomtown Rats), get your butt through the week (“Tuesday Afternoon” Moody Blues). Get over hump day (“Wednesday Week” Elvis Costello, “Wednesday Morning, 3AM” Simon & Garfunkel) and cruise through to Thursday (“Thursdays Child” David Bowie) until we make it to Friday (“Friday I’m in Love” the Cure, “Friday on my Mind” Easybeats). Then comes Saturday, (“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” Elton John, “Another Saturday Night” Sam Cooke, “Saturday Night” Bay City Rollers1, “Saturday Night” Skyhooks).
So I think you get my point. It is the cheating lyricists’ way out. Of course we can relate – we are alive aren’t we!
This particular day of the week song was the 1966 #1 hit for the Mamas and the Papas from their debut album “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears”. It is a great album which also has their hit “California Dreaming” which is absolutely embedded in the tapestry of popular culture now. I mean teenagers know this song and that is saying something. This is prime hippy freedom/hedonism gone commercial. But a very solid album blessed by the song writing of John Phillips – not too spacey so that you can’t relate to it. No, it was sort of a folk-rock melodica, somehow transcending pure folk.
Remarkably this four-part-harmony American/Canadian Quintet has sold over 40 million albums and is one of the most important groups of the 60’s. Everybody was doing harmony sure, but John Phillips arrangements caught the imagination and had an electricity that is still there. They kind of stepped out of the folk music scene and left it behind. Their sound was crisp and inventive at the time.
The thing that eventually broke up the Mamas and the Pappas was the affair Michelle was having with Denny Doherty the other male vocalist in the bank. In 1962 when Michelle would have been 18 she married John (who would have been 27 at the time). . They were divorced in 1970 but not till after the Mamas and Pappas broke up. In 1968 their daughter Chynna Phillips (later of Wilson Phillips fame) was born. Michelle married Dennis Hopper in 1970 – the marriage lasting 8 days.
The name the “Mamas and the Papas” come from when the group, then called “The Magic Circle” were watching a talk show about the Hells Angels and a member said, “Now hold on there, Hoss. Some people call our women cheap, but we just call them our Mamas.". Michelle and Mama Cass loved the idea of being the Mamas and soon the guys became the Papas.
They put out 4 albums in all, but each time the songs were not as strong on the charts. Mama Cass would go on to solo. She released a number of albums and at the height of her success had sold out shows at the London Palladium. She also had two fairly successful variety shows in the early seventies. Although I heard a story that she died of chocking on a chicken bone, the official story is that she died of a heart attack in her sleep on July 29, 1974 at age 32. It was a Wednesday. Go figure.
1. Humorous side note, someone I know called them the “Gay City Strollers”. O.K. I thought it was funny.