Want to hear The Monkees sing a Spanish Christmas carol from the 1500s? I promised a holiday song from my collection, every day until December 25, so here’s Mike, Micky, Peter, and Davy singing “Ríu Ríu Chíu” on their 1967 Christmas episode.
You can always watch “Ríu Ríu Chíu” (or just “Riu Chiu”) on YouTube, and there’s a transfer of the TV audio on the 2007 deluxe reissue of “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.,” but the only digital remaster I’ve found is on the Target-exclusive version of The Monkees’ 2018 CD “Christmas Party.” The lyrics are about the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception and Jesus Christ’s birth on Earth (aka Christmas Day). The actual words “ríu ríu chíu” are nonsense, mimicking the sounds of a bird, a nightingale or kingfisher.
The Monkees probably learned the song from Chip Douglas, their producer, who also sang “Ríu Ríu Chíu” with his own band, The Modern Folk Quartet. It’s also been covered by Sixpence None the Richer, Bruce Cockburn, and The Kingston Trio.
If you pick up a copy of The Monkees’ “Christmas Party – with or without “Ríu Ríu Chíu” – I”l be honest. It’s uneven. Peter was fighting cancer and has one lead. Davy had died in 2012, so his stuff is archival vocals with new instrumentation. Mike contributed two songs, standards produced by his sons. Micky handles the lead on new songs contributed by Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Andy Partridge (XTC), and album producer Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”).
Here’s “House of Broken Gingerbread,” sung by Micky and co-written by Schlesinger and author Michael Chabon.