Wednesday, August 15, 2012

my love affair with the monkees

links to my radio show monkees tribute:

HOT TRASH monkees tribute part 1 (3-6-12)

HOT TRASH monkees tribute part 2 (3-6-12)

*disclaimer: my posts are not usually so dense and photo-less, but then again i'm not usually so emotional when i write about something. there are a lot of thoughts swimming in my head that i need to get out without the distraction of pictures and other fluff...but luckily there are more links at the bottom of this entry from other monkees-related posts i have done with much more visual content*

i don't come from a particularly musical family, although it was always comfortably present throughout my childhood. my parents owned records (my mom in particular talks about an elusive 45 collection she still insists "must be somewhere!" and i'd love it if she could deliver already) but they weren't dedicated collectors or anything. more appropriately, my relationship with music growing up was a sort of background noise to our upbringing. the quiet music playing in the distance was like the radio my mom would leave on in the kitchen "to keep the dog company;" it was always there, but it didn't dominate our day-to-day lives. who knows why children grow up to latch on to the things that they do, but for me one of those things was music (it would all come full-circle, as today i am a college radio dj, avid record collector and concert-goer, but that is for another post). i can easily identify periods of my childhood by what music i was obsessed with at the time.

my first musical love was the monkees at age 4. trying to piece this together logically, i can only guess that i saw the tv show first, as this was their 20th anniversary in 1986 and the show was being aired again to promote the upcoming tour. my mom must have been rather delighted that her 4-year-old took a liking to something she herself had grown up loving as a teenager, and that's probably when she pulled out her old records. i distinctly remember being alone in my bedroom at our old house and kissing the glass window in four spots, just like the guys are standing lined up on the cover of their self-titled album. i didn't just have a crush on one of them, i was in love with the entire band! we also used to like to play with the cassette recorder when we were younger, and i still have the tape of me talking about the monkees:

"we got the monkee record...(giggles)...they're so funny! they're so FUNNY! you like 'em out there, i you you do! i bet you do! and i do too. everybody likes the monkees, you know! we have the record of 'em! we have the tape of em...(giggles)...that's how much we like 'em! soon as they move in town, we're gonna go see 'em. so...we have to wait to see where they're moving, we have to see when they're moving in town...yeah...then we'll go see the monkees. you know, there's one named michael, micky...and all those kind of names.. and david....and all those...and donald..."

(haha SORRY, peter!)

there is also a cassette recording of me singing "tomorrow's gonna be another day." my two cousins, beth and amy, were close in age to me and we would have sleepovers where we watched "the monkees" on tv. their mom was also a first generation monkees fan like my mom, so they grew up listening to her records and tapes as well.

eventually, my musical tastes evolved (i use that word lightly): i had a george michael stage at age 5, a new kids on the block stage at age 8, a green day stage at age 12. somewhere along the line while i was havin' faith and hangin' tough and dyeing my hair green with food coloring, i forgot about my love for the monkees. i never gave up my love for music, but i expanded my view to such a point that they got lost in the shuffle.

1996 marked another anniversary tour (30th) and another chance for the reruns to be shown on tv again. my cousin beth caught an episode one night and taped it to show me.

"remember how much we used to love the monkees?" she asked. suddenly it was like we were struck with lightning. why had we forsaken them all these years??? i think we probably made a pact then and there never to do that again, and we haven't looked back since. quickly, we began to devour everything monkees we could get our hands on. we took out every book the library had and read them cover to cover, brushing up on our monkees trivia. we dug out our parents old albums again, and began visiting used record stores to add any monkees records that weren't in the collection (and to get our own copies, finally). we watched the tv reruns, made up silly fanfiction stories, reintroduced amy and introduced my younger brother mike to the wonder that was the monkes, memorized the words to all the songs, decided we each had a favorite (mine and amy's was both peter, and beth's was mike), reenacted a 60-minute monkees mixtape where the 4 of us each played the part of a monkee and made instruments out of things like bike helmets (drums) and brooms, and finally saw the monkees live in concert.

yes! beth and i attended the 1996 30th reunion tour featuring peter, davy and micky. it was the first concert our parents ever let us attend alone (and only our second concert ever attended -- after bush and the toadies the year before). the show in cleveland was at an ourdoor venue and it poured barely 15 minutes into the set. beth was wearing a pair of sky blue old man dress pants (two words: grunge phase) and they quickly became see-through. we worried about our hair and makeup getting ruined as only 14-year-old girls could, then reminded ourselves that we were standing here seeing the goddamn MONKEES and dammit if we weren't going to have the greatest time on earth, see-through pants and runny mascara or not. and so we did.

not long after we saw the monkees (again as a trio) at a fancy theater downtown. beth and amy's mom, my aunt karen, came with us to this one. we were amazed at the seats we had, which were something like 13th row and the closest we had ever been. halfway through the show beth kept insisting to everyone that she smelled chocolate, and everyone told her to be quiet and watch the show because they didn't smell anything. beth soon realized that she stuck a handful of foil-wrapped chocolate hearts in her pocket to enjoy as a snack, but they had melted all over her thigh. we laughed at her misfortune, but she sang along and had a great time, sticky thigh or not.

we saw the trio line-up yet again at a rib cook-off with both of our moms in attendance this time. me, beth and amy painted signs before the show to hold up: "we love the monkees!" they probably said. once again, we were caught in the rain at an outdoor monkees show. by this point, we felt like old pros. we stayed around after the show ended for a while, trying to meet our beloved heroes. we saw them walking around behind the barriers, but we could not get to them. after the show, beth and amy had a sleepover at my house like old times. we played truth or dare and made my mom play, too. we asked her who her favorite monkee was when she was younger and she admitted she had a crush on micky. this really blew our mind for some reason and we all teased her about it. i caught my cousins and my mom whispering about something, and when i finally forced them to tell me my mom admitted she had gotten a hug from peter while he was walking past where we stood. amy admitted that she did too. she even had a picture to prove it. i have no idea what i was doing to miss that moment, but i was heartbroken that everyone had met him except me RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. i cried and everyone admitted that they should have never told me.

me, beth and amy saw micky and davy perform as the monkees at a club called the odeon. we got there early and sat outside in line, then ran inside to the general admission standing room spots right in the front row. we couldn't believe how lucky we were, but talked about how much better it would be to be in the front row if peter were there too (or better yet, mike as well! sigh.) we got some really nice photographs of davy and micky because we were so close, but we still didn't get to meet them.

i lost track of what year we saw what, but i know that we saw peter solo with his band shoe suede blues 3 times: at the beachland once and the winchester twice. after the beachland show we got to meet him in the lobby and took photos with him. he was wearing black leather pants and he hit on beth, asking her if she was single (which she was not, she was engaged at the time). amy and i left the show feeling very jealous, since peter was our favorite monkee and we didn't get hit on like beth did. we met him at the winchester and got a newer photo with him. he seemed bored or annoyed and did not hit on anyone.

we saw micky solo at a moondog coronation ball and on the happy together tour twice.

last year, we traveled 2 hours to columbus to see the trio once again as a birthday trip for beth's 30th birthday. it was a truly amazing show, as anyone who was lucky enough to catch the tour will tell you. the screen behind them projecting videos and photos from all stages of their career was truly awesome. it was great to hear them do songs they didn't normally perform all the other times we saw them live, like selections from the soundtrack to "head." i can honestly say that i never imagined i would be standing there watching davy perform "daddy's song" in an outfit similar to what he wore on the original broadcast playing behind him on the screen. the three of us had an amazing time and remarked how incredibly happy we were that we took the trip.

we had 10th row tickets to catch the show again in cleveland a few months later. the show was cancelled and we were heatbroken. we hoped the show would be rescheduled, but talked about how we were happier than ever that we went to columbus and saw the show there just in case. for reasons we weren't yet aware of, this would prove to be one of the best decisions we'd ever made.

february 29th was a wednesday. my day off. i slept in late and came downstairs to log onto the computer. i saw someone post on facebook "RIP davy jones." that was how i found out. i panicked. surely this had to be a mistake? i googled it and sure enough, the headlines were everywhere: davy jones of the monkees, dead of a heartattack. i knew if i hadn't heard from my cousins or my mom yet, i was the first to know. i sent the text i hoped i would never have to send. in the back of my head i always dreaded the day the first member of my favorite band would die. i pushed the thought away any time it would crop up, telling myself, "there's no reason to think like that!" i spent the rest of the day crying in my pajamas. i was supposed to go to the movies with beth and amy, but instead they came over my house and the three of us talked and were just there with each other.

not long before davy's death, my aunt karen (beth and amy's mom) passed away from lung cancer. the entire thing was obscenely fast: from diagnosis to her last day it was less than 6 months. it was very hard on our family, who have always been very close. i watched my two best friends struggling with so much pain and i didn't have the words to comfort them. it left a hole in our hearts that was especially apparent at events like monkees shows, where the song "daydream believer" was enough to have us all in tears. it was my aunt's favorite song. davy was her favorite. the whole thing left a black cloud over something that was once our "happy place."

when the news of a possible tour became public last week, i couldn't concentrate on anything else. the moment i saw mike's cryptic facebook status ("we may be coming to your town"), i knew something was up. i just felt it. i never dreamed it would be a memorial tour, or that it would only be 12 cities long and one of them would be right here in my own backyard. but in a strange way i was also not that surprised. this was a moment i had waited for my whole life, and now was the time. my cousins and i are still the 3 muskateers, as close as ever, and somehow we were destined our whole lives for this moment. i always said it was my dream to see all 4 monkees performing live together, and as sad as i am that davy is no longer with us i don't think it would have mattered even if he was because i still don't think it would have happened. i never would have gotten the chance to see all 4 monkees perform together. it just wasn't in the cards. it wasn't fair...but neither was losing my aunt so young. neither was losing davy so unexpectedly. life just isn't fair sometimes and although i have a hard time with that concept (i tend to be a dreamer and an extreme optimist), i know it to be the truth.

i've been on pins and needles all week waiting for these tickets to go on sale. tomorrow it will finally be over and i can stop having stomach aches over how stressed i am. i'm scared, and i'm nervous, but i also firmly believe that there's no way we could have come this far on our journey and not be guaranteed a spot to experience this. we lived our whole lives for it. the monkees have BEEN our whole lives. i have never loved a band so wholly and completely for so many different reasons. tomorrow i will be ok. and tomorrow i will have another post, with some good news to share.

p.s. past entries regarding the monkees can be found here:

say what?! (monkees edition)

saddest day

monkees recap / photo dump

when the monkees come to town then we'll go see the monkees!


  1. I hope you will get your tickets!

  2. With all due respect, did you see Davy on Dr. Phil last year? Fighting with his wife over very specific issues.

  3. well said cuz. i love you

  4. Jpop, what does that have to do with anything??