Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Ode to Davy Jones

I was at the library working on a new project, when I procrastinated by visiting the internet. On the Yahoo page, a breaking news banner glowed atop the screen. "Monkees' singer, Davy Jones, Dead at 66." I actually don't know if that's exactly what it said, but there I was at a library carrel covering my mouth and gasping with disbelief. My favorite band for the last 26 years has been the Monkees. Sure, I've gone through numerous musical phases: alternative, indie rock, metal, Ke$ha... But The Monkees have always remained a consistent love.

1986 was The Monkees' 20th anniversary, and they aired the show on both Channel 60, WPWR TV -Aurora (I remember that call name because I watched it so often. They switched to channel 50 at one point) and MTV. I quickly fell in love with the most obvious Monkee for a 7th grader: Davy Jones. It was a perfect time to become obsessed with the band because all of the teen magazine published pictures of the Monkees in their sixties heyday, so even though they were twenty years older than that, they looked like young possibilities to me!

The first concert I ever saw was the Monkees (with some other bands from the 60s that I could have done without) on November 2, 1986. I still remember the date and recall the event fondly every year on the anniversary.

Even in college, when I was all about Guided by Voices and trying to fall in love with all sorts of obscure, annoyingly pretentious bands, I still held onto my love for the Monkees. I saw them live in various smaller formations: Davy and Micky or Davy, Peter, and Micky, usually at a casino somewhere in Wisconsin. I remember standing in line in front of two women, not the classiest or most attractive broads, and them saying things like, "My boss knows whenever the Monkees are in town I have to have time off." "I hear Davy likes brunettes and Micky likes redheads." I was amazed, since I learned that they were indeed aging, that people still felt that physical attraction to them. No matter, I still loved them, even when Micky made old man, borderline racist jokes (kind of makes me think of Billy Crystal at the Oscars, actually). I still had my concert t-shirt from the 1986 show, with the boys' giant cartoon heads sticking out of the Monkeemobile. Where did that t-shirt go? Probably the same place my buttery soft fuschia Docs went. Alas.

Most recently, when my daughter turned two I made a list of the possibilities for the first television show I'd let her watch. The Monkees was high on that list (not that it's so appropriate for a two year-old, but it seemed like an important choice). Romy quickly became a die hard Monkees fan. I have video of her, before she turned three, singing "Daydream Believer" into our karaoke machine. She knew every word, and called out in the middle of the song, "We're the Monkees!" Every time we get in the car, she asks for a Monkees CD. Just this morning, before I found out about his death, Romy walked into preschool, as she often does, and told her teachers, "I'm Davy." I can't count how many times she has either played as Davy or asked me or Matt to be Davy.

Why was (and is) Davy my favorite Monkee? Yes, to an eleven year-old, his diminutive Britishness was adorable. But he was damn funny, too. Even as the heartthrob of the group, he didn't take himself too seriously. He was so cute and hilarious on the show, not to mention what a kickass groovy dancer he was. He sang many of my favorite Monkees songs (although, I will be honest and say Mike sings most of my favorites): "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," "Let's Dance On," and, of course, "Daydream Believer." (He also sang my least favorite Monkees's song, "Valleri.") I was so fortunate to see the Monkees in concert this past summer. You can read my blog post on it here.

My one regret (finally not having to do with artwork!) is that I never met any of the Monkees. Once, as a kid, Micky was set to appear with the Monkeemobile at the Chicago Auto Show. My family made it to the show but missed Micky's time slot. I was devastated. But the next story is way worse: I went to see the musical of "Grease" when I was in college. This is, naturally, one of my favorite movies of all time (I still sometimes think I like "Grease 2" better, though), but the musical, which I've now seen twice, is far less appealing. Why did I go see it for the second time then? Because Davy Jones was playing the role of the host, Vince Fontaine. This was during college, and I went with my parents. I was all dressed up: my little black velvet dress, my hot pink tights, my men's army dress shoes (as was the fancy dress during college). Before the show started, Davy was up on the stage spinning records and kibitzing with the audience. And then they announced that people could come up and dance with Davy. It wasn't a full house yet, and I could easily have gone up. But I choked. It would have been weird, right? To dance with someone my parents' age who I loved from afar for ten years? Plus, what if I looked like a dork? So I didn't go. I kicked myself for years over that one.

Oh, Davy Jones, you will be missed. You brought and continue to bring so much happiness, laughter, and song into my life. And, just so you know, you're already my daughter's favorite Monkee, too. I made sure of that.


Betsy said...

My friend rich is also a huge monkees fan. I really liked reading about your monkees love. I am sad Davy Jones died but this was a great post.

Julie H said...

Thanks, Betsy! I love that there are so many Monkees fans out there.

Kimber said...

My heart is broken. I've been crying and watching the "Cuddly Toy" and "Daydream Believer" videos all day. My favorite is Mickey, but I always loved Davy and thought he was so darn cute and funny. I even sent my daughter a text at school and told her not to be frightened if she walked in the door and found me sobbing on the floor like a loon.

She walked in the door, took one look at me and said "When Paul McCartney dies I'm going to have to call someone, aren't I?"

Yes. Yes, you are.

Teenage Librarian said...

Another heartbroken Monkees fan right here. I'm so glad that I was able to see him this Summer though. I kind of had a feeling that we'd be losing one soon. :(

I was at work in the high school library dealing with our servers crashing when my phone started blowing with up texts and calls from my family and friends. They knew I'd be crushed, and I was/am. I tried to explain to my students but they thought I was talking about the guy from Pirates of the Carribean. We listened to Monkees songs for the rest of the period.

I was lucky enough to meet Micky, Peter, and Davy a few times. They were so great...

Weirdly though, I thought of you when I heard the news, because I knew you were a big fan. I'm glad you got to see them this Summer too.

carey farrell said...

I loved reading this post. Davy was my first celeb crush, and I was lucky enough to see him in concert twice. The man could put on a show, no question. Gonna watch Head and sing and dance along with "Daddy's Song" tonight.

Julie H said...

Kimber, you sound like you're taking it really hard! I hope you had an okay night! TL and Carey, I am thrilled that so many great Monkees fans are reading my blog. Sometimes I felt like it was just me who liked them as a band, but it's wonderful that people really got them, you know?