For the past 45 years, people have been discovering the Monkees in a series of waves, coming every ten years or so via syndication, or cable channels. I discovered the Monkees through the show's third wave, when MTV began broadcasting the show in 1986. Sure, the episodes were goofy fun, but it was the music that sucked me in. Show after show, song after great song from the quartet. It was like discovering the Beatles in an alternate universe, where they'd had their own TV show. I soaked up all of the songs, as well as the names of the people involved with those records.
Yes, it was TV that originally put the group- Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork- together, but it their voices that made those songs so good. Later, they not only rebelled to make their own album (Headquarters, still my favorite Monkees record), but also gave prominence to the great writers that they utilized. Harry Nilsson, Boyce & Heart, Goffin & King and others were all introduced to me via the Monkees. And, while no one was looking, Mike Nesmith was bringing country-rock to the masses throughout the show's 1966-1968 run. After growing up with that, bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Dillard & Clark, and Poco didn't feel so abnormal.
I saw the reunited Monkees in 1986, when they played in Charlotte, NC on my birthday. It was a cool show, and my sister and I yelled and screamed until we annoyed the people sitting next to us. And then we screamed some more. Years later, I talked myself out off going to see the Monkees do a signing at Media Play. Sometimes, I think I'm the only person in Charlotte that didn't go to that signing. For whatever reason, I never made it to see the Monkees later reunion shows, or Davy Jones' solo shows. I was all set to see and photograph the band in Durham, NC last year, when the band splintered again, and cancelled the Durham show. That has made Davy's death this week all the more cruel. For as much as I have been lucky to see in my life, those few you don't get to see always bother you. Maybe I was never meant to see them again, and to alter my great memories of that 1986 show. One never knows, in this world.
That being said, I will probably go and see Micky Dolenz somewhere this summer, or if Mike Nesmith ever comes out of retirement. Hope springs eternal, because the music is eternal. When I've thought of Davy this week, I've thought about the records he was involved with, and the music that will always be here. Those sounds, which people will continue to discover, and will always mean something to me.
March 3, 2012