Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mr. Jones and me

Scanned from my copy of "The Monkees Go Mod.
Barring plague, pestilence, or a trip to a toy store, you could always find me in the same place every weekday at noon when I was almost 5 years old: watching "The Monkees" on Channel 44 (KBHK, represent). Sometimes I'd be eating lunch, sometimes not, but by God, I was not missing my favorite show.

I had a brief panic when I started kindergarten; after all, what if I was in the late class? I'd miss my chance to catch my favorite song. Fortunately, I was among the "early-birds" and was done with my crushing courseload by 11:30. Even walking home with my mom, that still gave us enough time.

Not long after the school year started, my mad reading skillz caught my teacher's attention. So did my penchant for following instructions too literally and pointing out errors, but the reading thing was at least good. As a result, a girl in my class and I got to spend time in Ms. Wilson's first-grade class for some advanced reading. First-graders, of course, put in a solid school day of work, and they didn't get to reading time until later in the morning, so while we didn't have to stay all day, we'd be there for an extra hour, getting out the same time as the late-birds.

Actual photo from the moment I realized it.

Just barely 5 years old--and if this happened before November, not even 5--and I'd already learned something about school that would come back to haunt me: being "smart" meant extra crap to do. Instead of being excited about the extra attention, all I could think about was missing "The Monkees." After that, I only was able to catch the show on holidays and sick days; it ran in that noon slot until October 1981 (I just looked in my TV Guide collection in the Siftin' Archives). After that, I don't remember catching it at all until the big revival in the mid-80s on MTV.

As a little kid, my favorite Monkee was Davy Jones, and for two reasons: he was short and the girls didn't mind. I was already on the losing side of elementary school height wars, and though I ended up a gargantuan 5'7 ("Hey, I can can see my house from up here!"), I was often among the shortest kids in my class and almost always shortest among the boys. But Davy was short, and it didn't seem to bother him.

Hell, he even called it out at the beginning of "Daydream Believer":
Know what I mean, like don’t get excited, man. It’s ’cause I’m short, I know.
A third semi-reason was that, being a huge Beatles fan, I was fascinated with British accents. I thought one of my classmates had a British accent; when I asked him if he was from England "like Davy Jones," he looked at me with that "WTF are you talking about" look I'd already grown accustomed to from people. He didn't clip his R's because he was British. He had a speech impediment.

By early 1986 when MTV brought back the show, I was briefly ecstatic. Ecstatic when I was at my cousin's place watching it on MTV, but bitter because our town had yet to get MTV. We got 2-13 (fortunately Channel 44 was cable channel 12) and Showtime or some nonsense. But I still got the compilation album that summer, "Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees," and I listened to it constantly. Davy had "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Valleri," the latter of which was among my favorites. "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" probably got the most repeat play on my little stereo, primarily because the title was pretty much how I felt about junior high school at the time, but "Valleri" would often cheer me up.

So if he was okay with it, I'd deal with it, too.

I got really big into The Monkees' music (since no one played the show anymore) near the end of high school when I inexplicably found a presumably 80s-reissued "More of the Monkees" album at my local Payless Drug for a few bucks. As a result, my very first CD box set was Rhino's "Listen to the Band," which was not just four CDs of songs, many of which I hadn't heard since I was a kid (it seemed like a long time then) or stuff I'd never heard at all, but a book filled with liner notes. Shortly after that, Rhino reissued the individual albums with even more extra tracks and info, and I've worn most of those out, too. Now I'm on the latest re-releases.

Andrew Sandoval's awesome book, "The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation" is everything I wanted back when I was getting obsessed after high school, and even now, I've read it more than twice. And now recently I've been watching it on Antenna TV with my kids.

I guess this is all just a long way of saying that when I found out yesterday that Davy Jones died, it saddened me more than I expected. Probably since he, Micky, Peter, and Mike have been such a large part of my pop-culture-drenched life, I suppose. Or that it reaches my narcissistic Tootsie Roll center and reminds me that I'm getting older.

Or maybe it's because he was short, you know?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:24 AM

    I think you and I were twins separated a birth (and a few years, okay...) Davy was my favorite when I was little. Maybe because he was more my size. ;) I, too, loved the accent. (I, too, was the only reader in my kindy class and went to read with the first graders and used to read to my kindergarten class. Yet they never let me write my own name. Wha?)

    When I caught them on MTV in the 80s, I got obsessed. I bought all the albums on vinyl. I watched all the shows, the interviews, etc. I even saw them in concert. Only this time, even though I still loved Davy, Micky was my favorite. I loved his goofy sense of humor, and though he may not have been classically handsome, he was "cute." Plus, he sang most of the songs.

    I still remember an interview with Mike Nesmith and how he wanted to declare a "Love Something Ugly Day" and "Save The Texas Prairie Chicken."

    The saddest thing about all of this is that somehow all my records have gone missing. I've been buying the songs on itunes, and I'm going to have to find the channel that plays the shows, because I need to introduce my kids to the Monkees. They're awesome.

    This was great!