Thursday, March 1, 2012

For making the morning brighter...

...thank you Davy.

Former Monkees singer Davy Jones passed away yesterday in Florida at the age of 66. Born in England, Davy came to the United States to pursue an acting career. Oddly enough, his first television appearance was on The Ed Sullivan Show on the same day as The Beatles first appearance on the same. It's an odd moment to consider: a young actor juxtaposed with the the hottest band in the world. That was in February of 1964.

Flash forward to December of 1966--not quite two years later--and it's The Monkees' I'm a Believer taking over the top spot on Billboard, eventually becoming the number one song of 1967 (with Daydream Believer coming in at number three for the same year). And that was the second number one for the Monkees in 1966, with their debut single--Last Train to Clarksville--having already been at the top of the charts.

The Monkees--throughout their brief initial existence of three years with the original line-up--would have four number one albums, with More of the Monkees holding the top spot for eighteen consecutive weeks. For a brief period, they were the hottest band in the world.

Years later, we all know much of this was a mirage: The Monkees were created wholesale from sackcloth for the TV show, most of their songs were penned by other people, especially their big hits, and--while Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were serious musicians--Jones and Dolenz weren't at all (Micky Dolenz couldn't even play the drums when the band was slapped together).

But thanks to the TV show, the band's legacy has endured. The show premiered in September of 1966 (when I was not quite a year old) and lasted only two seasons, yet lived on in reruns for many, many years.

I still remember waiting for the show on Saturday mornings in the mid-seventies. It was the highlight of my week, no question about it. It was goofy, outrageous, and just plain fun. And I loved the music. That love continued well beyond my younger years, continues to this day. In high school, my beat-up Maverick was full of heavy metal cassettes, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Motley Crue, what have you, but The Monkees Greatest Hits was ever-present. In colloge--in 1986--I bought Then and Now on the day it was released. The 1991 boxed set--Listen to The Band--is in my collection and indeed, has bee borrowed by my daughter on occasion.

They were a fake band. Right. I got it. But so what? The songs may have been written for them--mostly--and music may have been laid down by others, but it was their sound, their look. They sold it, for better or worse, and I see no reason not to credit them, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Micheal Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz.

Now, Davy is gone and I am truly sad. He brought me joy, that funny little English guy. He was a great face for the band and it was his vocals on some of their most classic ballads. Of all the Monkees songs, there are several that will always be my favorites. The big hits--mentioned above--of course, but also What Am I Doing Hangin' Round, The Door into Summer (both written by Nesmith), and the following:

Incidentally, this song--Shades of Grey--comes from the 1967 album Headquarters. And on it, The Monkees play almost all of their own instruments on every track. And they also composed many of the songs, as well. The album still went to number one.

So, cheers Davy Jones. Thanks for the memories, the Saturday mornings, the long drives in the car, and everything else. You will be missed. Godspeed, sir.

1 comment:

  1. Now I am certain, you are not me. I was born before you were, you see. Not that much more, a dozen years divided by three, with a bit of rounding error.

    I loved The Monkees, exposed to them on Saturday morning TV, which was 95% of what passed for entertainment in those days for me.

    The Monkees were not a real band, OK. But I never really cared that much for the real bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It was their music which did not quite strike a chord in me.

    Mozart could have an entire composition in his head, as I have it, and make credible the entire performance on the piano. But the VAST majority of the music which has brought me so much joy has been the product of group effort.

    I loved Davy's voice, and the his personality which seemed to exude betwixt the pixels of our black and white TV. And the music thus presented was, is, a major component of what is admittedly a collage of expression(s).

    I accept, with great joy, the package as presented. Today, I the Last Train To Clarksville will be running, and I will remember Davy and his cohorts in musical entrainment fondly.