“Joanne” by Michael Nesmith (ft. The First National Band)
It’s very easy to fall into the temptation of overanalyzing a song like Michael Nesmith’s “Joanne”. But sometimes, the presentation of a piece may be more complex than the idea it is intended to relay. And it seems as if underneath all of the poetic language, Nesmith is relaying a very fundamental idea/narrative.
Sometimes artists do things like that. They shroud a basic concept, when said concept is perhaps something they do not want to state forthrightly.
So with all of that in mind, it would appear that this is akin to a love song, with the singer’s romantic interest being the titular “Joanne”. And most simply put, the two of them fall in love. However, as time progresses, a less-than-ideal aspect of Joanne’s personality begins to emerge, one that is the direct result of her prior romantic history. And that ultimately causes her relationship with the vocalist to fall apart.
And again, that is a rudimentary outline of the featured narrative. The inference would be that this is based on one of Michael’s personal experiences. That basically means that all of this poetic language is actually founded in fact.
And at the end of the day, no one is going to know those facts besides for the vocalist, Joanne and maybe also “the man” that is also mentioned. So in a way, that even makes the intricacies of the lyrics more open to interpretation than a piece that is based on fiction.
And in reality, losing a woman he loved due to compatibility issues is something Michael Nesmith could have easily relayed utilizing more straightforward language. But obviously he didn’t want to just reveal a very personal and emotional experience from his life to the public like that.
Michael Nesmith (1942-2021) was a musician who made a name for himself as part of The Monkees, a band that originally started off as a fictional entity. However, Nesmith actually had musical pursuits and talents even prior to joining that crew, so when they went defunct he proceeded to drop solo albums, all the way up until 2015.
That said, Michael experienced limited solo success and perhaps will always be best known as a Monkee. And his most-successful single was in fact “Joanne”.
The song just missed breaking the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. However, it fared more impressively on the Adult Contemporary chart. Accordingly it was a regular part of Nesmith’s setlists and has been included on a number of his live albums.
More Facts about “Joanne”
This song is from Nesmith’s first official album as a solo artist, “Magnetic South”. RCA Records made it public during June of 1970.
Felton Jarvis (1934-1981), a producer that worked heavily with Elvis Presley (1935-1977), also served said role on “Joanne”. And Nesmith authored the piece himself.
Of all the musicians who have covered Joanne, the most notable currently on the list would be Andy Williams (1927-2012). Andy also dropped his rendition in 1970.
The First National Band is officially featured on this song. This band was actually a group Nesmith co-founded promptly after leaving The Monkees in 1970.