Hey Hey we’re the Monkees
by jitskesez @2010
For some inexplicable reason, recently several programs have examined the rise and fall of the Monkees, giving us aging boomers, or at least this one, a real “blast from the past.”
Was I a fan of the Monkees? Was I a 13-year old when they were on TV every week? Heck yea I was a fan. The Monkees more than any other group taught me the meaning of “teen idol,” of liking a group so much you’d be willing to be their groupie.
The “idol” was, of course, Davey Jones. At thirteen, he was my height – which kind of made me like tall Mike Nesmith more, except that he was married. So back to Davey, who, though short, was absolutely too cute, and still my height, at 13.
At that time, I was sleeping in an “extra room” which was not really a bedroom, and was separated from what wasn’t really a hallway to the bathroom, by a curtain. It wasn’t much of a room but I slept there and so the one wall next to my bed became mine.
Rather, it became the property of “Muziek Express,” being the main teen fanzine of The Netherlands. More specifically, it became the property of their foldouts and pictures and articles about the Monkees.
Once, I had a more mature and sensible friend help me redecorate my “room.” She pointed out that my fascination with an unreachable object was childish, and part of the redecorating scheme was that those posters just had to go.
But as I was tearing down a poster, being obligingly under peer pressure as I was supposed to be at my age, I all of a sudden couldn’t stand it. I turned to her and said “Stop!” and put back what I was removing. I actually LIKED the Monkees and I didn’t care what she or anyone thought about it.
Another friend was “into” the Monkees with me. I think that made it better. When the show was on TV, she and I would sit there and sigh. When we heard their music on the radio, we’d look at each other dreamily and sigh. When Davey would kiss a girl, we’d sigh. All our pubescent emergent sexuality went into those sighs. After Davey, all boyfriends HAD to be cute.
But the worst thing happened. One summer, the Monkees disappeared. Last thing I remember, I turned on The Monkees to encounter Jimi Hendrix instead, smashing guitars and setting things on fire. I was Not Ready for that and gasped in horror. Then no more shows came, and no one told me what had happened.
And then in the fall, it was my best friend’s birthday, October 29th. The best friend who liked the Monkees. And I saved up my money to buy her their latest hit single, which would cost over five guilders while my whole allowance was only one and a half.
I went to the music store, and asked where the Monkees records were in the stack. That is when I found out there were no more Monkees, but then he had me listen to “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, whom I’d never heard of. I ended up buying it for my friend since her heart’s desire, a Monkees hit, was no longer available, but this sounded a lot like them.
She liked it, and I remember dancing to it with the rest of the birthday party attendees. But a knowing look between her and me said, This is a disappointment, and what happened? Davey should be singing this.
Nearly thirty years later, watching documentaries about the Monkees, I finally found out. Yes, Davey should have sung that, it was written for the Monkees but they’d been cancelled by then.
Back in the past, I moved to a real bedroom, and no pictures of the Monkees went up anywhere. They were replaced by The Who and Led Zeppelin and Crosby Stills Nash and Young and posters proclaiming it was better to make love than war. After some time I even learned to like Jimi Hendrix, and after that came Pink Floyd and I was into music for the music not for the wholesome good looks of the band members.
And what does it feel like, after all these years, to see the old Monkees on TV and to get another taste of this time in my life? It feels wonderful. The only thing missing, even when the Davey who is being interviewed is graying and not very cute any longer, is my best friend to sigh with.
I LIKED the Monkees. They were more accessible than the Beatles, who got all artistic and egotistic and then split up. Their show was sheer fun, just like their tune said, “We’re too busy singing to put anybody down.”
And I guess as I look back with them to that time, they were meant to be temporary, just like being 13 is temporary. Yet, throughout the years, among groceries or clothes racks or in traffic, if the radio plays “I’m a Believer” I just have to stop, and smile, and sigh. Not even “Stairway to Heaven” makes me feel like that.