Today Mike Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees arrived in England for a week’s visit. They ended up spending quite a bit of time with The Beatles, who apparently were flattered rather than offended by their TV doppelgangers. (John Lennon: “I think you’re the greatest comic talents since the Marx Brothers. I’ve never missed one of your programs.”)

At this point the Monkees were keen to begin exerting more control over their music, and seem to have been inspired by hanging around with the genuine item. It was during this trip that Dolenz wrote the song “Randy Scouse Git,” which was a phrase he’d heard on a British TV show and found amusing without quite knowing what it meant.

Some months later, the Monkees’ handlers received a delightfully dry letter from the band’s British record company saying, in part,

You are no doubt aware that many English expressions have a totally different meaning in America and vice versa. In this it is a question of the versa being vice. To give you a perfectly straightforward translation of the title, you are referring to someone as being an oversexed, illegitimate son of a prostitute from Liverpool. The word git has been used on television in this country but only in a late-night adult program. The British press look upon the Monkees as being clean cut all-American boys and therefore the title could do them a great deal of harm.

The letter goes on to suggest that an alternate title be chosen, at least for the UK market. And so the song was retitled “Oversexed, Illegitimate Son of a Prostitute from Liverpool.” No, just kidding; they actually went with the rather literal-minded “Alternate Title.” (The offending phrase is never actually said in the song itself.)

Hmmm…I hear a voice in my head saying “Objection, your honor. Relevance?”

Well…“RSG” makes reference to The Beatles in the line “The four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor”; and of course “scouse” is indeed a reference to the Fab Four’s hometown, though I don’t know if Dolenz was aware of that or if it was just a coincidence.

But I take the voice’s point. Over and out for now.

 

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