Song Lyric Sunday — Different Drum

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams is asking us to focus on songs that mention musical instruments. This was actually a tough one because there are so very many songs that mention musical instruments. But I finally decided to go with the song “Different Drum” as recorded by The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Rhonstadt.

“Different Drum” was written by American singer-songwriter Michael Nesmith in 1964, two years before he joined the made-for-TV group The Monkees. He offered the song to The Monkees, but the producers of the TV show, who had wide control over the group’s musical output early on, turned him down.

The song became a hit in 1967 when it was recorded by the Stone Poneys, a folk trio of Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Edwards, and Bobby Kimmel. Their recording it made it to number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1972, Nesmith recorded his own version and it has since been covered by a number of other artists.

“Different Drum” is about a pair of lovers, one of whom wants to settle down, while the other wants to retain a sense of freedom and independence. Its narrator is the lover who wants to remain free, telling the other that “we’ll both live a lot longer” if they part ways now. Nesmith said that the lyrics had nothing to do with his own personal life. He was newly married with a pregnant wife at the time he wrote it.

In Nesmith’s original song, the girl is trying to tie down the male narrator and he has to leave her to strike out on his own. With Ronstadt singing it, the girl became the one who is being reined in, and she leaves her man so she can do her own thing. She is ready to bail on the relationship, claiming they are very different people and she doesn’t want to be tied down to one person anyway. It’s a classic example of the “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup story.

Here are the lyrics to “Different Drum.”

You and I travel to the beat of a different drum
Oh can’t you tell by the way I run
Every time you make eyes at me

You cry and moan and say it will work out
But honey child I’ve got my doubts
You can’t see the forest for the trees

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

Yes, and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

So good-bye I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me

Oh don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me

Yes, and I ain’t saying you ain’t pretty
All I’m saying is I’m not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

So good-bye I’ll be leaving
I see no sense in this crying and grieving
We’ll both live a lot longer
If you live without me

As a bonus, here’s Michael Nesmith’s rendition.

9 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Different Drum

  1. newepicauthor March 13, 2022 / 7:56 am

    Marching to the beat of a different drum describes a person who thinks, lives, or behaves in an unusual way. I never heard the Michael Nesmith version before, but I knew that he wrote this, Great choice fandango and you can never go wrong with Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lauren March 13, 2022 / 8:47 am

    I was familiar with the first version. The second one was a first for me. I was unaware that Nesmith write the song. Great both ways, but very different.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 March 13, 2022 / 9:03 am

    The Monkeys had much more talent than any one gives them credit for! I do love this song 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marleen March 13, 2022 / 9:57 am

    I enjoyed hearing Nesmith’s singing of it, and pretty good guitar playing. The sound of him on his own really puts me in a different mind frame of what the culture was like, or some subcultures were like, then. It’s funny hearing Linda say “I ain’t sayin’ you aren’t pretty” to a guy (presumably) and in the context of those times (back in “the” day as it goes).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Marleen March 13, 2022 / 10:56 am

    Guitaro5000

    Liked by 2 people

  6. leigha66 April 9, 2022 / 3:05 pm

    I knew Nesmith had written the song, but I had never heard his version. A little more country twang to his. Good song still and I loved Linda too!

    Liked by 2 people

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