I was born in 1953, about 11 years before the advent of the Beatles. Who couldn’t love them – four young, talented British musicians, riding the crest of the wave of the British Invasion? I liked the Beatles, George being my favorite , but the first band I idolized was the Monkees.
Now, I know what you are thinking. They were a manufactured band put together by some Hollywood programming wizards who wanted to ride the wave in the wake of the Beatles. They didn’t play their own instruments or sing their own songs. But aside from the cheap ploy of putting Davy Jones in the band, an homage to Paul (the cute Beatle), the Monkees were ours. Mickey Dolenz, a child TV star (we all watched Circus Boy), Peter Tork, a folk singer, one of the last of that genre which included singers from Peter, Paul and Mary to Simon and Garfunkel, and the most unlikely band member of all, Michael Nesmith, an accomplished musician and songwriter, his sound a blend of country and rock music.
So who would have foreseen that these four talented, yet disparate individuals would combine their talents and go on to record such hits as “I’m a Believer, “Daydream Believer, and “Take the Last Train to Clarksville.” I’ll bet every Patricia Ann out there who was born circa 1953, has the lyrics to one of these songs running through her mind right now. The band fought tooth and nail with the show’s producers and the record company executives to play and sing, not only songs written for them, but most importantly to Michael Nesmith, songs he wrote himself. The TV/record people capitulated, and the rest is history.
The videos that ended each of their shows were the harbingers of MTV and the music video phenomenon. Michael Nesmith is considered one of the founding fathers of country rock music, paving the way for groups like the Eagles and singer/songwriters like John Denver. Recently the band launched a reunion tour and last summer I had a dream come true. I had seen Mickey, Peter and Davy in concert, but never my favorite, Mike. However, on a warm summer night in last July, in Raleigh, NC, I attended the performance of Mike, Mickey and Peter (sadly, Davy passed away in 2012). To my delight many of the songs were Mike’s.The audience was a mix of old fans and new fans , and at one point the band asked the audience to sing Davy’s signature song, “Daydream Believer” as now that Davy was gone , the song belonged to us. Come on, you know that you know the words – “If I could hide ‘neath the wing, of the bluebird as she sings…