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Michael Nesmith & The First National Band

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(1970 – 1971)

The First National Band was an American group led by Michael Nesmith, formerly of The Monkees. TFNB was an important early proponent of , adapting an idiosyncratic, genre-busting aesthetic. The group consisted of Nesmith (guitar, vocals), Red Rhodes (steel slide guitar), John Ware (bass guitar), and John London (drums). The group had two successful singles, “Joanne” and “Silver Moon”, peaking at #21 and #42 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.

By the time of The Monkees’ dissolution, Nesmith had amassed a considerable backlog of original songs; some songs had been recorded by The Monkees, such as “Listen to the Band” and “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun to Care)”, with an eccentric touch of genre experimentation added to traditional country sounds. Eager to experiment further, once he had bought his way out of his Monkees contract, Nesmith founded the First National Band in 1970; in their brief existence, they released an album trilogy — Magnetic South, Loose Salute (both in 1970), and Nevada Fighter (1971) — each bearing one of the colors of the flag of the United States.

This trilogy saw TFNB tackle Nashville standards such as “The One Rose (That’s Left in My Heart)” and “I Fall to Pieces”, alongside Nesmith’s original compositions, filled with impressionistic lyrics and ironic humor. Each new album was progressively more eclectic in its approach than the last.

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