In defense of The Monkees.


I love The Monkees. Well, a lot of their stuff. Their late 60s stuff. Y’know, the stuff they actually wrote and performed themselves, not the crap that they recorded to make NBC and their record company happy (except “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, which is a great track and was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole Frickin’ King), nor the weird 1980s reunion tour stuff.

Actually, quite a few awesome (in different ways) people wrote for The Monkees, including Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, and, most importantly, the Monkees themselves. Michael Nesmith is certifiably genius. I especially love “Magnolia Simms”, which I can’t find on YouTube (aside from covers), but “Circle Sky” (look! they’re playing instruments! apologies for the shitty quality – hard to find the live version) and “Tapioca Tundra” are also favourites. Micky Dolenz did some cool stuff too (he also owned one of the first 20 Moogs – and they were maybe the first pop band to use one on a record), as did Peter Tork (especially on the Head soundtrack), but Davy? Mehhhh. He wrote/co-wrote the fewest songs and I’m glad of it. In fact, the only Davy-fronted track I really like is the utterly ridiculous, and written by the aforementioned Harry Nilsson, “Daddy’s Song”, from the also-aforementioned Head soundtrack.

Early in high school, I would rush home to watch reruns of the TV show on Muchmusic (back when non-MM shows were still pretty musical in nature) and was quite upset when it was replaced by the fucking Partridge Family. But, being the odd and curious soul that I am, and, after one Christmas, being in possession of a Monkees box set, I found out that the the TV show was just the tip of the iceberg. And that their later, broken free of their manufactured image, music was infinitely superior. (Though, you had some glimpses of it in the Mike songs that made it on the air. He was the fiercest, man. Beneath that woolly hat was a very large brain.)

The Monkees also helped introduce Frank Zappa and Tim Buckley to mainstream audiences, wrote a fucking weird, LSD-fuelled movie with Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson, and helped inspire Gene Roddenberry to introduce the adorable character of Chekov with a Davy Jones haircut. They also were friends with the Beatles, which is kind of hilarious and fantastic. It wasn’t all lunchboxes and screaming girls and not actually being musicians, folks.


Anyway, on top of today’s mini-rant, I also helped compile some stuff for Mark Watson (that comedian none of my North American acquaintances have ever heard of, but who is very funny and nice and adorable), who does a proper daily blog (his goal is to do ten years of this – my goals as yet are undefined).  The Very Late Review 12 should be up here some time later today.


Edited post-(first)coffee to add that yesterday’s race went much better than expected, especially as I was hacking up bits at the start line (my fall allergies are pretty awful). If I hadn’t had to stop to retie my shoe (my right big toe was getting a bit numb), it would have been my first sub-hour 10K. Instead, it was a 1:00:24 one. But as that’s a personal best,  I’m cool with that.

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