The Monkees invaded my teen life in the same manner that most things did in the eighties – through MTV. It was a full on marathon of Monkees and I was smitten: the hijinks, the color and above all the fabulous Beatles-inspired music. Well, ok, the personalities helped too. I actually never was a Davy Jones gal per se, my Monkee-crush was the folksy yet intellectual Nesmith. Mickey was a hip clown and Tork was sweet in a befuddled kind of way. But I still loved Davy. How could I not? He was the funniest one. Sure, Mickey gets high points for comedy – hell, they’re all funny in their own way. But Davy made it look so easy – just dropping tasty lil bon mots here and there. A perfectly timed mug to the audience. Always joking about how short he was. Yet during the few somber moments (usually motivated by whatever girl trouble was central to the plot of that episode), Davy pulled you in with a sweet soulful look that would make you melt into a puddle of cooing.
He was a theater guy, too. He just had that ‘Broadway star’ kinda talent – such a show man, such an entertainer! He had just finished a stint in Oliver! before joining the show. And so self effacing in those weird interviews they sometimes tacked on to the end of a show. While the other Monkees were trying to emphasize their talents and prove to the world they were more than just a Monkee, Davy always seemed to own it. He was a Monkee and he was proud of it! He was there to entertain, did a damn good job, and he knew it. Even among the Monkees, it seemed that while other members might have friction with each other (*cough* Nesmith and Tork *cough*), Davy got along with everyone. *Sniff* excuse me, I’m gonna talk straight to the little guy himself:
Oh Davy, you carried the show’s heart. Your sense of humor and timing was always pitch perfect for the avante garde slapstick they threw at you. Joking about your shortness. Adorable English accent. I dunno, you were just so damn cute, but also seemed like a genuinely sweet guy. You gave many reasons for me to smile like a child when I watched/heard you do ‘Valeri’, ‘Daydream Believer’, ‘Here Comes Tomorrow’, and one of my favorites ‘Cuddly Toy’. Those songs were so YOU and no one else could give them that hip kinda razzle-dazzle that was your forte. Not that you were actually a hippie/hipster dude. Nope, even in your screen test, you maintained that you were a clean cut kinda guy and just grew your hair for the show. But The Monkees would never have been The Monkees without you. We’ll all miss your light and warmth and the way you snapped your fingers and did The Serpentine during the “Daydream Believer” video. Somewhere I hope you’re playing the drums (what you *really* wanted to do in the band) and doing the old soft shoe for Saint Peter.
*Snuffle* Ahem, ok I’m back.
It’s hard to believe they fit all those shows into two seasons. but if you’ve never checked out The Monkees, get thee to Netflix post haste! Jamie and I will be revisiting the show for sure. Even though it was panned by critics when it came out, there’s a lot of gold in these shows. A radical, mind-expanding cultural revolution was roiling that The Monkees introduced to the mainstream and parodied at the same time. Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, a couple of young hipsters, used techniques from the experimental cinema of the time (including Hard Day’s Night) and even slipped in some social commentary. Though some of the Monkees contributed great songs, much of the music was composed by the top writers of the day.
While you’re in your queue, go ahead and check out Head one of the most psychedelic movies ever – starring our boys. Head was a microcosm of the intellectual and avant garde curiosity in the arts that was rampant in that special time. Frank Zappa was in it for criminy’s sake. And you get to see a clean-shaven, short-haired Jack Nicholson (I always love seeing him in his sixties roles. He looked like a geeky science teacher with a rich inner life). The music was written by Carol King, Goffin, Henry Nielssen, Nesmith and Tork. And it’s gorgeous – check out Porpoise Song alone – written by King/Geffin. Very interesting things going on.
Oh but please skip 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee *shudder*. A desperate last gasp that should have never happened.
But back to Davy. Oh, Davy, (here I go again) we’re so so sad you’re gone. But the one good thing that could come of it is more people realizing the brilliance of what you guys actually did and in particular the joy that you brought to the table.
I leave you with my personal favorite Davy moment, “Daddy’s Song” from Head (w/ Tony Basil and Franz Zappa, song by Harry Nilsson):
Sadly I just got more bad news, closer to home. A dear family member just passed away, Julian Parker, or as we called him, Uncle Dittles. Part of the greatest generation, a veteran with the limp to show for it, he was the epitome of the strong but kind man. He had a long, good life but will still be missed sorely by his loving wife, children and all those who knew him. I just wanted to send condolences to Aunt BeBe, Tommy, Gary and all the Parkers and Williams in Macon and Milledgeville Georgia. God bless all yall.