Oh, Davy Jones- how I adored you when I was a tween! I owned 5 of the Monkees’ albums on vinyl, and when they came out on CD, I bought those, too. I was such a fan of the 5’3″ bowl-cut little ex-jockey that I even owned one of his solo albums titled “Davy Jones”. The songs on that silly album were just a bunch of bubblegum, but I still remember the lyrics to one of them:
“I’m sittin’ in the apple tree, lookin’ for a star… I’m sittin in the apple tree, wonderin’ where you are…”
Not exactly poetry, but catchy and cheerful all the same. There was plenty of time later in teenage-hood for the Cure and the Smiths; Davy Jones made it alright to just be a girl in love with a teen idol. If you want to hear the song, follow this link.
And now that you’re gone, I have spent time this week re-watching your Monkees episodes and listening to your music again. The shows are dated, but still entertaining, and I have enjoyed my Monkees flashback of psychodelia and moppet-to-hippie transformation.
Here are my top ten favorite Monkees songs, starting at number ten. It is immediately apparent that my taste for Mickey, Davy, Peter, and Mike ran to their quirkier tunes, and this list proves that theory:
10. “You Just May Be the One“ — sung by Mike, it is the lyrics and the harmony of the chorus that draws me to this tune. I like how “deep” the thoughts are, conveying the idea that all men will eventually find the right women if they just live a proper lifestyle and be patient.
9. The Girl That I Knew Somewhere – another one sung by Mike. He wasn’t really a soulful singer, but somehow his voice made this song both sweet and melancholy as he sings about a girl he has never met, but feels he already knows.
8. Writing Wrongs – trippy and dramatic and irreverant, this piano-based tune asks a bunch of dark questions which were deliciously “deep” to my prepubescent mind. In a strange way, this five minute long song by Michael Nesmith with the extensive instrumental in the middle is still current and has not aged.
7. Your Auntie Grizelda – Peter had the worst voice and the worst sense of timing of all the Monkees. He was my least favorite Monkee. But, this song still makes the list for two reasons: the first reason is that Grizelda is still one of the COOLEST names I have heard in my life! The second reason has to do with the whole off-tune, punk mentality that the first 30-seconds of Your Auntie Grizelda are just as good as anything your average local garage band could crank out.
6. Zor and Zam – this tiny little song, sung by Mickey with just minimal drum and guitar in the background had a powerful ending. “Two little kings, playing a game… they gave a war, and nobody came”. There are wisps of Vietnam in this tune, and as a tween I had never heard anti-war propaganda before. Still resonants to this day.
5. Goin’ Down – Mickey scatting and doing this odd shuffle with his feet – absolutely intoxicating! There is a saxophone and what must have been a very modern (back then) photography technique of double-exposing the film so that it looked like there were numerous Mickeys, all out of breath and putting on their best tribute to floating down some unnamed Southern river.
4. Gonna Buy Me A Dog – not really a song, but more of an outake of Mickey and Davy cracking really bad jokes. I liked it because it felt so personal – these guys were teen idols, and they were letting the listener in on their secret recording world.
3. Words — still wearing their matching red shirts and grey pants, but starting to dip their toes into hippie culture, Mickey and Peter harmonize on echoey-lyrics with back-up windchimes. As is typical with Monkees’ songs, this one goes from cool lyrics to a thunderous bridge. Definately symbolic of their turning point from bubblegum to true musicians.
2. Randy Scouse Git – Sporting long hair and tapestry-embroidered clothes, the boys sing a song using British slang demeaning people from Liverpool. Supposedly, this song was written by Mickey after the Monkees and the Beatles spent a night together partying. I love this song because it just sounds really good.
1. Daily Nightly – the best of the best, Moog keyboard and all. Hearing them all sound totally hip, with Mickey’s earnest lyrics complementing the feedback from the keyboard. An intense, thoughtful, psychodelic song that perfectly captures the time and moment in which it was recorded.
Good-bye, Davy. We’ll miss you.