Monday, November 7, 2011

Hey Hey They're The Monkees!

I can't remember when I didn't have music in the house. My parents loved music (classical and Herb Albert, mostly) and with two older sisters and one older brother, I was *always* being exposed (or subjected!) to their music. So in our house you could hear everything, from Doris Day to the Jackson Five, Jesus Christ Superstar to Ted Nugent. This has served me well as a listener, for even though I'm known as more of a Motown/Oldies type of guy to my friends, I can appreciate good music when I hear it, no matter what the genre.

Now the first music I ever chose to listen to belonged to the "teeny bopper" sound of the early 1970s: yes, I'm talking about The Monkees. I didn't know anything about them and their musical controversies at the time: I only knew I liked to watch them on TV and listen to my sisters' hand-me-down albums. Don Kirshner and ColGems definitely had something going with their marriage of TV and music! Years before I knew who the Beatles or the Temptations even were, I was a fan of Peter, Mike, Mickey, and Davy. 

I mean, what's not to love, right? Especially as a kid, if you see four fun guys hanging out enjoying various adventures together you want to be their friend! I've since read how the producers picked Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork to represent four different types of guys: as a unit, they are one "perfect man." I think I must have bought into this on a sub-conscious level because I liked all of them. Sure, Peter was my least favorite (he never seemed to do anything!), but when he wasn't around it just wasn't the same. I can see now that he definitely added a special "something" to the mix that I didn't appreciate as a kid. In fact, I later read all about how The Monkees were "The Pre-Fab Four" etc, but if *anybody* could throw a group together and do what they did and be successful, why do so many bands fail to be successful? The Monkees had talent, both individually and collectively, no doubt about it. Sure, they were lucky to be in the right place at the right time, but if they hadn't had the talent to back up all the hype, they would have failed. Period. 

I used to watch the TV series over and over again. My favorites were definitely in the first season when The Monkees themselves seemed to be more "into" it and less counter-cultural. That, and the fact that I don't like perms on guys, haha. Sometime between the end of the first season and the beginning of the second, Mickey Dolenz let his hair go curly. At the same time, the double-buttoned shirts and Monkeemobile disappeared. They guys became more "hip." I don't think I would have minded the change in look so much if it hadn't come with such a drastic tone. The episodes got "darker" and less fun (and funny). When I go back as an adult and re-watch them they are different, but I still find them less entertaining than the first season. Was it their excessive marijuana usage? Was it the stress of success? I don't know, but as I got older and found out that the Monkees as a group self-destructed after the TV series folded, I wasn't surprised. 

The Monkees were like a group of co-workers in your office who are put together to work on a project:  they aren't friends. Yet they created something (from nothing!) that evolved into something timeless. The Monkees were hired as actors and ended up as legends. They were and ARE one of my favorite bands. 

If you agree with me, please go sign the Petition For The Monkees To Be Inducted Into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They deserve to be there.

I leave you now with one of my all-time favorite Monkees songs....featuring Rose Marie, Peter Tork & Mike Nesmith having a ball, and Davy Jones as The Wolf Boy. ;-) Love those kids doing those cool Sixties dances, haha!

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