That evening I drove to the library and typed up Braille tab for the new songs we had been planning to work on. We’d canceled rehearsal for that night in deference to Mike’s feelings. He took a walk on the beach while I was gone and was in bed, fast asleep, by the time I returned.
The next morning I felt a chill breeze which woke me up. Sitting up, I saw that Peter had telekinetically hijacked my covers from his position in the doorway. "Morning Len!" he said cheerfully. "Breakfast time."
"Did you have to wake me up like that?" I whined.
"Yes. Now come on," he said.
"At least give me back my afghan. I’m freezing!"
He sighed and the white blanket drifted over to my shoulders and I wrapped it around me, then walked over towards Peter. He dropped my covers and pushed me out the door ahead of him. The afghan had been a gift to Micky from his grandmother that he never used so I had taken it over to replace the afghan I had accidentally left behind in Norridge,
Breakfast was pigs in blankets. Mike did a better job of eating than he had before, getting nothing on himself. Isa smiled at me, obviously happy that Mike was adapting. After breakfast she excused herself, heading off to an important meeting with Gregory, her editor, while we set up for rehearsal.
Mike, however, flopped on the couch. "What’s the use? I need the music to learn new songs."
"I’ve got the music for you," I said, floating over to the bandstand to grab the sheets I’d typed up the night before.
"How? I can’t see the notes," Mike said bitterly.
I flew over and sat beside him, shoving one page onto his lap. I grabbed his hand and laid it on the page, forcing him to feel the dots.
"Read it,' I commanded.
"It doesn’t make any sense . . . "
"Read it letter by letter."
"A . . . C . . . E . . . it’s tab!" he cried.
"Yep. See, you’ve got the music now!" I said.
Mike’s jaw dropped. He slid his fingers over the Braille again, then he stood. "Where’s my guitar?" he asked. I grabbed it with a field and floated it over to his hands. He flopped back on the couch and played the song through, pausing to check the Braille music a few times. He played it through three times, the third time without needing to check the sheet.
"Wow Mike, you got it right!" Peter cried from the kitchen where he was cleaning up.
"Seems like I did good buddy. Thanks to Lenora."
Rehearsal went well. Over the next two days Mike worked hard to adapt, Peter or I berating him every time he tried to feel sorry for himself. The recording company called one afternoon to book our time for the first recording session. Mike had balked a bit about going into recording blind but after a brief argument with Peter, he’d succumbed.
Wednesday afternoon I drove to the studio, our instruments packed into the trunk, Mike smoldering in the middle seat with Peter and Davy reassuring him he wouldn’t look helpless if Peter led him in, and Micky riding shotgun. There was a guard at the entrance, who let us in after I showed my driver’s license and told him we had recording time booked. He directed us to park by a certain entrance. I did so and we unloaded the instruments. Inside, an intern found us and helped us carry the instruments into the studio and then headed off to get our producer.
"Oh man this is so groovey! I can’t believe we’re gonna record our own album!" Micky cried, looking around the room.
"I know! This is incredible!" I said.
"Okay, let’s get set up. We only have so much time to record," Mike drawled.
The next fifteen minutes were a blur of activity as we set up Micky’s drums in one corner of the room, placed the guitars and keyboard near it, and arranged the microphones.
"Well, it looks like all of you are ready to start!" said a young man who walked in as we finished our set up.
"Yes, we are," Mike drawled. "And you are?"
"Chip Douglas. I’ve been assigned as your producer."
"Mike Nesmith, lead guitarist and vocalist," Mike said, extending a hand. Chip gave him a funny look, as Mike’s hand was extended off to Chip’s left, but he stepped forward to shake it anyway.
"Micky Dolenz, lead singer and drummer," Micky said, bounding over to shake hands with Chip. Chip smiled a bit at Micky’s enthusiasm.
"Lenora Dolenz, bass, keyboards, drums, banjo, guitar, vocals," I said quietly.
"Peter Tork, bass, banjo, keyboards, guitar, harmonica, French horn, vocals."
"David Jones, percussion and vocals."
"Pleased to meet all of you. Now, the company gave me this track lineup. You can have up to twelve songs and they’ll release one single -- so you can have up to fourteen songs recorded," Chip said. "Let me know if you want to make any changes to this list." He handed it to Mike.
Peter scurried over and took the list from Mike. He scanned it and handed it to me. "Your memory is better Len. Anything missing?" We’d discussed some track lineup ideas the night before.
I took the list. "Well, weren’t we gonna do ‘Never Tell A Woman Yes’?"
"Yes, I’d like that to be on the single," Mike drawled.
"The company would like ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ to be your single," Chip said.
"Can’t we put ‘Never Tell A Woman Yes’ on the B-side? That’s always been a hit at the Cassandra," I said. "And I thought we had been planning on ‘Yellow on the Broom’ too."
"That’s right," Mike said. "What’s the rest of the list?"
"’While I Cry,’ ‘All the Kings Horses,’ ‘Words,’ ‘For Pete’s Sake,’ ‘Mary, Mary,’ ‘Saturday’s Child,’ ‘Let’s Dance On,’ ‘Steppin Stone,’ ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday,’ ‘Teardrop City,’ ‘Cuddly Toy,’ ‘She,’ and ‘Circle Sky’," I read off.
"I say we cut ‘She’ and ‘Circle Sky’ -- those could always go on the next album," Micky said.
Mike silently repeated the titles to himself, lips moving, and then nodded. "Sounds good. Yes, let’s save those two for the next album."
"Okay then! Let’s get started. Any song you particularly want to start with today?" Chip asked.
"Never Tell A Woman Yes," Mike announced.
Five hours later, we called it quits. We’d laid down the final vocals for "Never Tell A Woman Yes" and "Yellow on the Broom" along with rough instrumentals for those songs and rough backing vocals for "Yellow on the Broom." We’d also recorded a really groovey rough cut of Clarksville that I felt would make a great outtake in later years -- our Rhino bonus track. There was a great raw sound to it. Plus, it had helped us to work out a new, more elaborate instrumental arrangement for that song.
When we got home, Mike headed over to Isa’s while the rest of us unpacked the trunk and put our instruments back on our tiny bandstand by the verandah doors. Micky ran out to surf while the surf was high, and I pulled Peter and Davy aside, reminding them that Micky’s birthday was in three days. Then we snuck over to Isa’s and told them, too. By the time I had to start getting dinner ready, we had a plan for a great surprise party worked out.
The next two days were spent covering each other’s backs while we got the party and our gifts together. Mike adapted more and more, heading over to Isa’s or out to the beach when he needed quiet. Micky stayed oblivious, so far as I could tell. I made sure to shield the link enough so that he wouldn’t discover the plan from me.
Last updated 28 NOV 98
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