Today is Sunday, which means a break from the A to Z Challenge. I’m working on a couple things to post at the moment. If you’re a fan of The Voice, be sure to check my Page for some of my reactions to the first live round (more detailed reactions are still getting written up). I’ve decided an easy way to get these posts out quickly is to post live during the show, so be sure to stop by Monday and Tuesday and chat with me about the episode! In the meantime, I have a guest blogger for you here to bring you some nostalgia of her own! – Jamie B.
In the space time continuum, that vortex in the atmosphere where all our childhood fashions, music and favourite TV shows go when they disappear from our view something happens to them – they whiz round in circles hoping that at some point they’ll get propelled back down to earth and make the comeback that their fans want and hope for.
Some are lucky (Backstreet Boys, New Kids On The Block, jeans with really low crotches) some are not so lucky (Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Puffball skirts). There’s one particular pop group that had more comebacks than most, and one that have crossed so many generations of people right from the 1960s to the present day that while they did slip into that vortex from time to time, they always built up enough momentum to swing back into life in some shape or form. Who were they..?
The Monkees of course! It seems kind of appropriate to be writing about them here and now with the sad death of Davy Jones last month – but sadness and tributes aside, there are few people who haven’t heard of them or can’t sing one of their songs, regardless of age. It’s weird to think that in an age where reality shows and talent contests like American Idol are so popular and loved that one of the original “manufactured” bands are still so revered and idolised by many. Firstly, just try and not watch and listen to this without feeling gloriously happy and smiley:
You can’t! It’s impossible – from the wonderful sixties guitar sound and the beautiful harmonies in the voices. When you think of them you can’t help but be reminded of some of the greatest, happiest songs that have ever been recorded – sounds like “Daydream Believer”, “Last Train To Clarksville” or “I’m A Believer” (Those are also my own favorites. Great picks- Jamie B).
The idea was for them to be a sort of US rival to The Beatles – the difference being that The Beatles played all their own instruments, and The Monkees (at first) didn’t.
At the current time, the band has sold some 65 million records worldwide. Pretty astonishing seeing as the TV series that started it all off was cancelled in 1968.
Their TV Series
But more than that, there was their TV show – from which many of their songs were heard for the first time. The group had been initially brought together by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider just for that reason, with the intention of it solely being a sitcom. It’s the kind of premise that’s been repeated ad infinitum since – a group of young men living together in an apartment and the “adventures” they get up to. These days the kind of things we’d see would be infinitely more risqué – but this was good, clean fun with a completely zany slant to it.
They’ve ended up taking a wrong turn in the car, and run out of gas in a down and out wild-west town. They go off in search of gas/help but end up getting into scrapes with the locals. A genuinely joyful moment is when Peter starts listing everything that’s happened to them to Mickey – Mickey waits for him to finish, nonchalantly just turns to the camera and says “That’s for the benefit of anyone who tuned in late – now, back to our story…” then flips back to the action. It’s this kind of thing that made the series in general such a pleasure, the fact that none of it was taken too seriously. It was what it was, just good, silly fun intended to put a smile on your face and cheer you up, and that is why it’s stood the test of time so well.
Four Different Personalities
There was something for everyone. Davy was the sweet, cute, unassuming one – the guy you probably could have taken home to Mom and Dad without fretting too much. Mike was the serious one (though the bobble hat lent a certain air of daftness), sort of like the older brother the others turned to, or the one who always knew what to do. Peter was the kooky one, slightly surreal and prone to having a vacant expression on his face – though very loveable and cute, and surely the shiniest haircut ever seen in the 1960s? Finally Mickey – the wisecracking Groucho Marx-eqsue one, he really only needed the glasses and cigar and he was there. Plus he could sing, he really could sing – an unusual voice but one that really worked, a prime example of this is his vocal on the awesome song “Goin’ Down” (Awesome… never heard this one before! I’ve always wondered why, with that voice, he wasn’t the most popular.- JB):
In those four characters there was something for every taste. Girls wanted to scream at Davy Jones and boys wanted to sarcastically cool like Mike Nesmith (bobble hat optional).
Here’s The Thing: It Still Works Now…
Reruns crop up a lot on many cable channels all over the world and the band themselves had until the last twelve months or so continued to tour in one form or another (sadly there had been lots of well documented fallouts between the members over the years). Their biggest and most significant revival came in 1986 when MTV (when it was a proper music channel…) showed much of the TV series back to back and brought it to a whole new audience. A 20th Anniversary tour came about and from then on they sporadically performed and toured until Jones’ death last month. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t take the shine off what was one of the greatest US TV series ever. If you ever need an excuse to be cheered up, Monkee around with The Monkees. Your chuckle muscles will thank you for it.
Lucy Adams is a freelance writer from England who writes for business magazines reviewing everything from logistics and parcel delivery to accounts and finance.