It’s easy, oh so easy, to dismiss the Monkees as a lightweight pop group that was nothing more than a made-for-TV concoction. But as a child of the 60s who was practically raised on TV shows like “The Monkees,” I have to admit that the band was an integral part of my childhood.
As you may know already, Davy Jones, the lead singer of The Monkees, passed away this week at the age of 66. After some quick math, his age doesn’t come as much of a shock as it did when I saw the obituary headlines yesterday, but nevertheless it’s mighty hard to fathom “young Davy” as anything more than that cute little British guy who sang most of the Monkees’ songs, and did such silly things on the TV show. Someone like that can never grow old, at least not in my mind.
Although the Monkees were indeed a “manufactured” band, assembled mainly for their ability to look good on TV, they managed to record a helluva lot of really good, catchy songs; hits like “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday, “Daydream Believer,” the addictive theme song from their TV show, and many others. Okay, their music wasn’t as “deep” at that of musical contemporaries such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, or The Who, but that doesn’t mean it was inconsequential. Their songs were loved by millions of young listeners.
Ironically, just two weeks ago, when I was in Kuala Lumpur, I purchased my first Monkees collection on CD. I found a copy of The Works, a 3-CD compilation by Monkees (released by Rhino and WEA UK) at the Amcorp Mall branch of Victoria Music in Petaling Jaya. This was more Monkees music than I really needed, but the price was so affordable that I couldn’t resist purchasing the collection. I haven’t even listened to the whole thing yet, but the death of Davy Jones has motivated me to put this into heavy rotation at home for the rest of the month. If nothing else, just hearing “Daydream Believer” each morning will bring a smile to my face and ensure that the day gets off to a good start.