Monday, February 27, 2012

The Mamas and the Papas -- "Monday, Monday" (1966)

Monday, Monday 
Can't trust that day
Monday, Monday
Sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning
You gave me no warning
Of what was to be

"Monday, Monday" is the quintessential Mamas & Papas song.  (It was their only #1 single, and also won a Grammy Award for "Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.")  It features the beautiful vocal harmonies that characterized their music.  But the four members' personal lives were about as unharmonious as it was possible to be.

Old Mamas, Old Papas
As you may know, the Mamas & the Papas consisted of John Phillips, Michelle Phillips (John's second wife), Cass Elliot, and Denny Doherty.  Shortly after "Monday, Monday" was released, it was discovered that Michelle and Denny were having an affair.  

Although they were in the middle of recording their second album, the group booted out Michelle in early June 1966 and replaced her with their producer's girlfriend.  (It's interesting that Denny was allowed to remain in the group.  Think those recording sessions might have been just a bit uncomfortable?)    

Michelle was invited back in August and re-recorded all the tracks that the producer's girlfriend had done.  (Michelle later said that she has no idea who is singing on some of the songs on that album.)  The first single from that album -- "I Saw Her Again" (which was co-written by John and Denny) -- was about the affair.

The group recorded its third album that fall.  Denny was drinking heavily then, trying to get over Michelle.  

The next fall, John insulted Cass at a party thrown by their record company, and she tried to quit the group.  (John was against Cass joining the group in the first place -- Cass was obese, and John thought that would prevent the group from being a popular success.  So you can guess what the insult was about.)  But Cass and the others were contractually obligated to record one more album.  After that album was released in 1968, the Mamas & the Papas went their separate ways.

At least they thought they had gone their separate ways until their record label threatened to sue them, claiming that it was owed one more album.  So the group reunited long enough to record one additional album, which was a commercial flop.  (Big surprise, given that everyone hated not only the record company by that point, but also each other.)  The quartet broke up for good then.

Cass Elliott had a relatively successful career as a solo artist before dying of a heart attack in 1974.  After the group had broken up, she asked Denny to marry her, but he declined.

Michelle Phillips released an album in 1977, which didn't sell at all.  (It was titled Victim of Romance, which may be evidence of a certain lack of self-awareness on her part.)  She had some success as a movie and TV actress.

John and Denny actually got back together in 1979, forming a group called The New Mamas and The Papas.  (Perhaps "The New Mamas and the Old and Really F*cked-Up Papas" would have been a more fitting name.)  The two new "Mamas" were Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane -- who had been the lead singer of Spanky and Our Gang -- and John's daughter from his first marriage, Mackenzie Phillips.

New Mamas, Old Papas
Denny eventually became fed up with John's drug addiction, and left the group in 1986.  He was replaced by Scott McKenzie, who is best known for his 1967 hit, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)."

John got a liver transplant in 1992, but was photographed drinking in a bar in Palm Springs a few months later.  (He later told Howard Stern that he was just breaking in the new liver.)  He had to leave the group after the transplant, and was replaced by -- guess who?  Denny Doherty, of course!  (I don't know about you, but I'm getting sort of dizzy.)  John died of heart failure in 2001.

Mackenzie Phillips also struggled with drug addiction and left the group in 1991.  In 2009, she told Oprah that her father did drugs with her when she was a teenager, and had sex with her the night before her first wedding -- she was 19 at the time.  The sexual relationship continued for years, according to Mackenzie.

Mackenzie and John
John was married at that time to his third wife, who denied Mackenzie's allegations.  Mackenzie had two half-sisters, Chynna and Bijou Phillips (who were themselves half-sisters) -- Chynna believed Mackenzie's story, but Bijou didn't.  Denny Doherty's daughter said that Denny (who had died in 2007) knew about John and Mackenzie's incestuous affair.

(I suddenly feel the need to take a shower -- maybe two showers.)

So how do you reconcile all this sordid personal history with the gorgeous music that the Mamas & the Papas produced?  Hey, go ask Sigmund Freud.  2 or 3 lines is just a simple (although wildly popular) music blog -- what do I know?

Here's "Monday, Monday":

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. We're not going to be tested on this, are we?