'Breaking Bad' Uses Monkees Song in Key Meth Cooking Scene; Micky Dolenz Weighs In
Call it a chemical reaction: The group's co-founding member talks with THR about the AMC series' placement of 1967 B-side "Goin' Down" in Sunday's episode.
Here’s a combination you probably never imagined coming together on television: beloved '60s pop-rock group The Monkees and many pounds of crystal meth.
Leave it to Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and the show’s music team to pair a montage of chemistry in action with the song “Goin’ Down,” the B-side to The Monkees' 1967 hit “Daydream Believer.”
Spoiler alert: The scene was a key moment during Sunday’s episode, when Walter White (Bryan Cranston) essentially passed the torch to new protégé Todd (Jesse Plemons) in an all-night cook. The double-time, kick-in-the-step vocal styling of singer Micky Dolenz served as the soundtrack, and an unlikely one at that -- yet, strangely, it worked.
The sync lit up Twitter’s music-centric community and had the “Monkee-net abuzz,” Dolenz, who sings “Goin’ Down,” tells The Hollywood Reporter. Although the singer and drummer was on the road with his solo show, he found out about the music cue almost instantly via the group’s Facebook fans. “It’s one of my favorite Monkees songs,” he says. “Great lyrics by the band and Diane Hilderbrand. … A very smart call.”
As it turns out, Dolenz is a fan of the AMC series, and for that reason, he says he’s “a little torn” about the song’s use in the scene. “ ’Goin’ Down' has nothing to do with drugs, obviously,” he tells THR. “And I certainly don't condone meth -- that is nasty stuff that kills a lot of people and ruins a lot of lives. ... On the other hand, I like the TV show, it's very well-made. … And no, I didn't make a penny.”
Indeed, Dolenz won’t see much if any financial reward to the song’s use. Formed in concept as a made-for-TV group, at least originally, The Monkees' individual members forfeited rights to their recordings and image, which is one reason the band wasn’t informed of the placement ahead of time or asked for a sign-off.
“The record company controls the licensing and mechanicals for all the material that you do,” Dolenz explains. “In movies and TV they don't even have to ask, unless you wrote the song. Like I had no idea ‘I'm a Believer’ was going to be in Shrek.”
While the long-haired, beads-wearing and paisley-sporting Monkees were no strangers to an affiliation with psychedelics and marijuana (“I smoked my fair share,” Dolenz readily admits), the group’s co-founder insists creative endeavors like their 1968 movie Head, written by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson, had a greater purpose than simply being an accompaniment to mind-altering drugs. “Head was more about the deconstruction of the Hollywood big movie studio monopoly, using the Monkees metaphorically for attacking that system,” he says. “It had more to do with the cerebral element.” That and leaving the door open for a second movie, so that the makers could say “from the producers who gave you Head.”
Adds Dolenz, “Like they say, any publicity is good publicity -- just spell the name right.” That’s Micky with no E.
Watch the Breaking Bad season finale this Sunday and listen to a remastered version of The Monkees' “Goin’ Down” below: