The last time I was moved to tears, it wasn’t so much at the sight of something beautiful, but at a poignant moment in my life. This moment took place recently at a reunion concert by The Monkees. As anyone of my generation knows, the Monkees were a group of four musician/actors chosen to portray a Beatles-like group trying to make it big in the world of rock and roll on TV in the 1960s. That their show was slapstick comedy, with jokes and puns that now make me groan when I hear them, there is no question. That they defied the odds and became teen sensations, with screaming girls fainting at their feet and better yet, an actual band who fought to control their music and write their own songs is nothing , if not, (wait for it) legendary.
I was quite excited when I found out about this concert because Michael Nesmith had always been my favorite Monkee and this time he would be joining the remaining group members, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork. Sadly, Davy Jones passed away last year. I had the opportunity, however, to attend a concert a few years earlier that featured Mickey, Peter and Davy and so in a somewhat roundabout way, I have seen the four of them perform, at one time or another.
My aging teen idols, now 71 instead of 17, did not disappoint, filling the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium with nostalgia, laughter and the songs of my youth. Davy was present on a video screen which projected, throughout the concert bits from the TV show, TV commercials, and footage of the fellows singing and being interviewed. And when it came time to present the song Daydream Believer, one of their biggest hits sung by Davy Jones, they discussed who would sing it. It was Mike who settled the matter by suggesting none of them should sing it because the song no longer belonged to them, but to us, the fans. And so the audience stood and sang the song accompanied by the band, a young Davy Jones, singing and dancing on the video screen above. As the lyrics wrapped around me, the tears welled up in my eyes and my breath caught in my throat. I was transported back to those long ago days. This was my youth, I thought. My time – I was there – living those crazy days of the 1960s. It was a tumultuous time filled with both the ecstasy and the agony of a culture in the throes of change and the generation of young people caught up in it. A generation which found their voice, the conduit for their ideas, hopes and dreams, in their music.
Music is a powerful catalyst, bringing to mind memories both beautiful and poignant, and sometimes, in the least likely of places, accompanied by a tear.