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One Less Monkee

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Davey Jones is dead. He died of a heart attack. It is hard to imagine Davey Jones as anything other than young. I loved the Monkees. Daydream Believer still takes me back to the summer of 1967, when I was a kid. When everything was candy, comic books, and crushes on cute girls (which Daydream Believer captures perfectly). Those of you that really know about the Monkees realize there was far more to this band than met the eye. They were a pretty savvy bunch of guys. They made a movie in 1968 named ‘Head’ which included a Frank Zappa cameo. They satirized their teenage idol success. If only Justin Bieber could do the same! But the Monkees music was excellent pop, written in large part by Neil Diamond and other top notch songwriters. True, they weren’t the Beatles, but they didn’t try to be. They just wanted to be a fun band, and they played their roles with their tongues firmly lodged in their cheeks. The tv show was fun, too. Beatles fans at that time were a bit nostalgic for the early Beatles, when they were full of innocent fun. and the Monkees gave them that. Davey Jones had a sweetly comic quality, never really losing that baby face, even in his fifties. That time seems so long ago, and just yesterday, at the same time. I can imagine in my mind the fun that the Monkees would have had with that sentence. “Just yesterday?” “No, man, it was long ago!” “But he just said….” “It’s called a metaphor.” “No it isn’t!” “Well, it’s one of those literary devices!” “Devices?” “Well, nothing’s changed for us, we’re still the same, right Davey?” “Hey, where’s Davey?”

The songs drew from many sources. (not your) Stepping Stone could have been an Animals song. I’m a Believer is as strong a song as any Beatles song, and sounds like one. It was written by Neil Diamond. Daydream Believer sounds a lot like the Lovin’ Spoonful. There were a few more obscure songs which hold up fairly well. Michael Nesmith wrote many of the Monkee’s songs (he was the one with the wool cap), and he never really received the accolades he deserved. Johnny Cash was a big fan of Nesmith. ‘The Girl I Knew Somewhere’ and ‘Mary Mary’ were as good as the bigger hits. Although it wasn’t written by Nesmith, Last Train to Clarksville holds up really well as a country song, as well as pop. The Monkees specialty were well-crafted pop songs which are as much fun now as they were then.

This is yet another unwelcome reminder of how things change for us baby boomers. Our childhood heroes die of heart attacks reminding us of our own mortality. I guess that’s not very funny, huh?

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