What the Monkees Songwriter Thought About Andy Williams’ “I Want to Be Free”

TL; DR:

  • Andy Williams and several other artists covered “I Wanna Be Free” by The Monkees.
  • One of the “I Wanna Be Free” writers discussed Williams’ performance.
  • “I Wanna Be Free” appeared on a hit album.

Andy Williams | PA Images via Getty Images

One of the writers of The Monkees’ “I Wanna Be Free” compared the song to The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” In a similar vein to “Yesterday,” “I Wanna Be Free has been covered by multiple artists. One of the writers of “I Wanna Be Free” revealed what it was like to watch Andy Williams cover the song in a studio.

Why a Songwriter Compared the Monkees’ “I Wanna Be Free” to the Beatles’ “Yesterday”

Boyce & Hart was a writing partnership consisting of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. The duo gave the world songs like “I Wanna Be Free”, “(Theme From) The Monkees”, “Valleri”, and “Last Train to Clarksville”. In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart compared “I Wanna Be Free” to “Yesterday” because of its strings. Afterwards, he discussed the reaction to “I Wanna Be Free”.

“It served us well when we needed a ‘Yesterday’ type string quartet ballad for [The Monkees’] first album,” he said. “It’s probably been recorded by more artists than any other Boyce & Hart song. One of my favorites is Richard Marx’s stripped down, unplugged YouTube performance.

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What Bobby Hart thought while watching Andy Williams perform the song

Hart explained what it was like to watch Williams record one of his songs. “One day in early 1967, Lester Sill gave us the good news that Andy Williams would be recording his own version of ‘I Wanna Be Free’ for his next Born Free album,” Hart recalled. “When Andy is Born Free sessions were scheduled, he invited Tommy and I to stop by the studio to meet him and sit down while he recorded our song.

Hart was blown away. “On the appointed day, we arrived at Columbia Records studios at Sunset and were ushered into the control booth where, through the glass, we watched the legendary standard/pop singer go through an effortlessly beautiful performance,” said he wrote.

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RELATED: Why The Monkees Songwriters Felt Their Songs Couldn’t Be Too Beatles

How the world reacted to The Monkees and Andy Williams’ cover of ‘I Wanna Be Free’

The Monkees’ “I Wanna Be Free” was a single but it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The song appeared on the band’s self-titled album. Monkeys topped the Billboard 200 for 13 of its 102 weeks on the chart.

Williams’ cover of “I Wanna Be Free” was called “I Want to Be Free”. Her version was not a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. She appeared on the album born free. The album was a success, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and lasting 79 weeks on the chart.

Williams’ cover of “I Wanna Be Free” was not a hit, but it impressed Hart.

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