“Love Is Only Sleeping”: 7/4 Time Can Be Catchy

22 Words has a fun piece that identifies 6 prominent pieces of pop propelled by unusual time signatures, the most famous likely being Pink Floyd’s “Money,” whose opening bass line is played in 7/4 time.

I’m always surprised when the topic of The Monkees comes up in conversation, and I get the blank stare from fellow music fanatics at the mention of “Love Is Only Sleeping.”   How can so many people not know that great opening guitar riff?   In 7/4 time, no less:

“Love Is Only Sleeping”     The Monkees     1967

Interesting to see how many YouTube audio clips there are of “Love Is Only Sleeping” as recorded by The Monkees – at least twenty, almost certainly more – but all of them with relatively low viewership numbers (in the hundreds and low thousands).  Clearly, there are still vast stretches of the world’s population that appear to be wholly unfamiliar with this classic Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil composition.

Wikipedia reports that “Love Is Only Sleeping” was only added belatedly to groundbreaking 1967 album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. when the song was pulled as the A-side of a single – its title deemed too risque, purportedly.  “Daydream Believer” ended up as the new A-side, with “Goin’ Down” (ironically) being chosen for the flip side.  Thus, you can try in vain, but Googling the phrase “Love Is Only Sleeping” will yield no images whatsoever of the forbidden 45.  As with Johnny Cash’s “Five Minutes to Live,” we are left with the overwhelming heartbreak of an obvious A-side forever in search of a good home.

news items From Monkees Monthly, UK publication

Monkees UK Press IMonkees UK Press IIIn 1967, Portugal’s citizens, curiously, were blessed to have the opportunity to purchase a 4-song EP with “Love Is Only Sleeping” as the A-side, as it were —

Love Is Only Sleeping EPVarious web sources assert pioneering synthesist, Micky Dolenz, as having played Moog on “Love Is Only Sleeping” – in addition to pop masterpiece, “Daily Nightly” – while iTunes states Mike Nesmith as producer of this once-banned A-side.

“Five Minutes to Live”: Death Sentence Commuted to 18 Years

My heartfelt appreciation to Brian Horrorwitz of Trash Palace for introducing me to a great tune that was sung by Johnny Cash and featured in a mediocre film in which he starred:

I am especially in awe of Luther Perkins’ guitar lines, who plays exactly the right notes and not a single note more.  Luther’s terse instrumental passage preceding each verse captures perfectly the unrelenting dread – one imagines – of those awaiting execution, while the economy of his playing thrills me in the same way that complex and showy musicianship used to knock me out when I was a wide-eyed teen.

But if you search all of Cash’s Columbia single releases, you will discover that this obvious A-side was never issued as a 45 — nor was it released on any of Johnny’s Columbia albums either.  Neither was it issued as part of a soundtrack album for Five Minutes to Live (a.k.a., Door-to-Door Maniac), as far as I can tell.  Thus, this song, born in 1960, remained in solitary confinement for 18 years until the 1978 release of The Unissued Johnny Cash by Bear Family, (the German reissue label that compiles lavish and scrupulously annotated box sets of American roots rock, country & blues artists) – and even then, it was only available to U.S. fans as a pricey import.

Five Minutes to Live poster

Is it possible that the heavyweight topic of capital punishment made the song too sensitive for radio play?

Thanks to In the Can for the recording session info:

Wednesday, November 2, 1960 :  At Bradley Studio in Nashville, Johnny Cash
records “Five Minutes To Live” and “The Losing Kind”, both of which are
first issued on the LP “The Unissued Johnny Cash” (Bear Family BFX 15016)
in 1978.

Personnel : Johnny Cash (vocals / guitar) ; Luther Perkins, Johnny Western
(guitars) ; Marshall Grant (bass) ; W.S. Holland (drums).
Produced by Don Law.