Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Monkees - Daydream Believers

This was originally posted yesterday afternoon, but I wanted to give Mr. Jones his own day in the light;

Davy Jones, the innocent, boyish faced singer for the Monkees, one of the iconic "bubble gum" rock groups of the 1960's, has died. I titled this piece Daydream Believer(s) after one of their many hit records, "Daydream Believer", which was written for the group by John Stewart just before he left the Kingston Trio. The top notch songwriters who wrote for the Monkees included; Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Carol King, who wrote "Pleasant Valley Sunday". I was one of those kids who watched the record as it spun on the turntable, and actually used to read the names beneath the titles of the songs.

Years after the fact, I realized that Davy Jones had played the Artful Dodger in the Broadway version of "Oliver", which I had seen for my birthday in 1963. As a matter of fact, on the night the Beatles first performed on the Ed Sullivan show; February 9th, 1964; the entire cast of "Oliver" appeared. Davy Jones reaction was immediate, he was later quoted as stating, "I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that."

The Monkees were thrown together as a group for a TV series which would try to capture the daily adventures of a madcap rock band; kind of like an American version of the Beatles in "Help." They were actually assembled, by chance, through a process of individual auditions. This was, after all, a "make believe" group. Well, nobody took the "make believe" part seriously, the songs coming from the radio and TV were bouncy and, like the times themselves, were catching. From one end of the country to the other, kids were wearing black ski caps with a pom-pom at the end, in imitation of Mike Nesmith. They also resurrected the old Navy Pea Coat, which became a staple of fashion for quite a few years. I know I had one, long before I joined the Navy, and even then, the real one was never quite as "cool" as that first one.

And, in the end, along with the help of some wonderful songwriters, they made "Daydream Believers" of us all.

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