Ah, yes. I remember Davy Jones. Sure, he was as pre-fab as pop could be – a camera-ready pop idol manufactured for TV as well as the charts. But every week I tuned in – Monday night, 7:30, NBC- The Monkees. It was some of the best televised escapism an 8 year old could hope for that didn’t involve cartoons.
The Monkees came to be in an age when everything in the pop mainstream – and I mean everything – emulated The Beatles. Some today perceive Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith – as The Backstreet Boys of their era. Perhaps in terms of marketing intent, they were. But then, as the saying goes, was a simpler time. Dance moves didn’t matter, sex appeal was strictly G-rated and the reliance on music video was parlayed into their weekly TV series. The latter, of course, was all wide eyed innocence with Jones and crew living in the same groovy pad and living out the same pseudo-adventures that were modeled heavily after the The Beatles’ Help! film (with a dose of Get Smart thrown in).
And as cheesy as their music could get, The Monkees had a solid team of pop songsmiths (Boyce & Hart and a then-modestly known Neil Diamond) in their corner. Dolenz handled the bulk of the lead singing, with Jones usually relegated to playing tambourine and flashing the pearly whites for the gals. But he got his moment with Daydream Believer, arguably the 2nd best entry in the Monkees hit cavalcade behind the Dolenz-sung Last Train to Clarksville.
There were the reunion tours in later years – one of which visited Lexington at the then-named Applebees Park on its opening weekend in 2001. Sadly those were sober reminders of a pop era that had long since past. Poor Peter Tork. He looked like he was being subjected to a scientific experiment that night.
Best instead to remember Jones and the Monkees as a snapshot of the ‘60s that was broadcast into our homes every Monday evening. It was fluff. But it sure was fun.