Why The Mamas & The Papas Despised Their Biggest Hit

Why The Mamas & The Papas Despised Their Biggest Hit | Society Of Rock Videos

via OscarOsR / Youtube

Writing a popular song is frequently a strange alchemy in which even the authors are surprised by their success. With their number-one single, “Monday, Monday,” which they infamously hated despite its enormous success, The Mamas & The Papas found themselves in a similar predicament in 1966.

“Monday, Monday” began life in 1965 during the band’s “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears” debut album recording sessions. John Phillips, the band’s songwriter, was under pressure from bandmates and producer Lou Adler to duplicate the hit song “California Dreamin'” commercial success, so he quickly wrote the song in about 20 minutes.

As recounted by Michelle Phillips in her autobiography, the moment of its creation wasn’t met with enthusiasm. John, donning his guitar, expressed his ambition for a universally relatable song. Yet, the initial reaction from the group was far from encouraging. The simplicity of the line “Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day” failed to impress, leaving the band members skeptical.

Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot were particularly vocal about their disdain for “Monday, Monday,” dismissing it as pretentious. Despite John Phillips’ confidence in the song’s potential, dissent lingered within the group. Even producer Lou Adler had to intervene to keep the recording process on track, urging the band to focus on their performance while he handled the release.

Denny Doherty, while not openly opposing the song, admitted his lack of enthusiasm for it. Reflecting later on, he found little to admire beyond the opening background vocals. To him, it seemed like just another mundane ode to the woes of the workweek. The recording sessions were marked by tension and disagreement, with relief only coming once the vocal rehearsals were concluded.

“I thought it was just a song about the working man. Nothing about it stood out to me. It was a dumb f***in’ song about a day of the week. By the time the rehearsals were over for the vocals, I thought, ‘Thank god that’s over!’” – Denny Doherty

Interestingly, Cass Elliot would later cite “Monday, Monday” as one of her favorite tracks from The Mamas & The Papas. However, her retrospective endorsement might have been influenced by the passage of time and the band’s subsequent success, including a Grammy Award win in 1967 for Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Performance.

Don’t Miss Out! Sign up for the Latest Updates

Premium Partners

Society of Rock partner World War Wings
Society of Rock partner Daily Rock Box
Society of Rock partner Country Music Nation
Society of Rock partner Country Rebel
Society of Rock partner I Love Classic Rock
Society of Rock partner Rock Pasta

Interested in becoming a partner?

Contact us for more info.