Confession: In 1966, I didn’t really understand the Monkees.
I didn’t know they were a made-for-TV band, put together solely to capitalize on the Beatlemania that had swept the nation. I didn’t know that, in the beginning, the Monkees weren’t even playing their own instruments during the show’s musical numbers. Or that most of the songs they sang were dismissed as “bubble gum” by the music establishment.
All I knew was that I was totally, desperately, completely in love with Davy Jones.
Like every other teenage girl in the country, I sat glued to the television set every
Monday night to watch the hilarious high jinks of Micky, Peter, Mike and dreamy Davy as they cruised southern California in their tricked-out Monkeemobile. No matter that my parents declared the show the silliest thing they’d ever seen, despite its two Emmys. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Every adolescent female in the United States had her favorite Beatle. Mine was George. But I had plenty of friends who chose John, Paul or Ringo.
That wasn’t the case for the Monkees. I’ll wager that, if asked, 95% of girls from age nine to nineteen would have named Davy Jones the Monkee they’d most like to marry. Or date. Or see pictured on the cover of the Tiger Beat magazines piled on their bedside tables. Girls loved Davy’s groovy long hair. They loved his
clothes, from the Nehru jackets to the bell-bottom britches to the white patent
leather boots. They loved his British
I swooned over those things, too. But it was the things Davy and I had in common that made me a believer that, if we could but meet, we would almost certainly fall madly in love.
I liked horses. Davy liked horses. (He was, in fact, a gifted equestrian who in his later years raised and trained racehorses.) I was short. Davy was short, but—at five-foot-three—still an inch taller than me. (Perfect for slow dancing together.) I played the tambourine, sort of. So Did Davy. (Also the drums and guitar.) And Davy’s December 30 birthday was just one day after mine. (Never mind that it
was nine years before.)
Sadly, I never saw Davy Jones in person. Not once in the five years the Monkees were together did they come to my town, even though the show’s theme song said they might. But that didn’t stop me from buying their records and listening to them for hours on end while dreamily gazing at Davy’s pictures in the Tiger Beat magazines piled on my own bedside table.
I liked all of their songs. “I’m a Believer.” “Daydream Believer.” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.” “Valleri.” “Steppin’ Stone.” “Last Train to Clarksville,” which my friends and I were convinced referred to Clarksville, Tennessee. “Girl,” which Davy sang to Marcia during “The Brady Bunch” episode where he agreed to perform at her prom if she’d agree to be his date. Speaking of swoon.
My favorite, though, was “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. I found the lyrics deep, insightful, and a little disturbing. Just like a lot of other stuff in 1967:
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning in the air
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care…
See Mrs. Gray she’s proud today because
her roses are in bloom
And Mr. Green he’s so serene, he’s got a
TV in every room…
Bubble gum? I don’t think so.
Thank you, Davy, for helping to make my adolescence so much fun. Rest in peace. I’m still a believer that you and I could have made beautiful music together.
(March 11, 2012)