In honor of the release of the new Monkees album, Good Times!, I reflect on my time as a fan of the band.
Five years ago (give or take a couple of weeks), I saw the Monkees in concert. Well, 75% of them. Mike Nesmith was not touring at time. (I would see him solo a bit later.) Davy Jones was still eight months from his untimely death.
That Was Then
Although the Monkees first graced the world with their presence thirteen years before I was born, they were a big part of my childhood. As a seven-year old in 1986, I experienced their twentieth anniversary revival thanks to MTV’s reairing of the old episodes and to a copy of their greatest hits that my dad and little brother got me for my birthday. Thirty years have passed. It is hard to believe that we are now experiencing the band’s fiftieth anniversary.
Not surprisingly, as a kid, my favorites were Davy and Micky, who pretty much shared lead singer duties on all the big hits. My mother’s faves were the same. I remember my grandmother trying to give me Mom’s copy of Headquarters on vinyl, and Mom getting mad. She had written each Monkee’s name above his head on the album cover.
I recall playing at my childhood best friend’s house with our Barbie (and, assumedly, Ken) dolls, making the Kens lip sync to Monkees songs as the Barbies watched adoringly. In the late nineties, when The Monkees turned thirty and Nick at Nite resurrected the show for Monkee Mondays, my high school pals and I would congregate in someone’s living room to watch. When I think about it, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith have always been there.
This Is Now
Pop music is timeless and never seems to go out of style. I consider myself lucky to have been a kid in the eighties, because I rarely tire of hearing a song that I constantly listened to on the radio back in those days. For some reason, Monkees music fits in to that timelessness. I sang along at the show that night five years ago, and I sing along whenever one of their tracks shows up on my iTunes playlist. Just today at work, the opening notes of “Last Train to Clarksville” were stuck in my head, and I wished I could simply hit play in my music app and share with the rest of the office.
I have been a believer for the past thirty years, I guess.
This essay was originally written in June, 2011. It is published here with edits.