I’ve been working on the months-long task of rebuilding my iPod after my old iPod crashed. I began with artists whose name starts with A and I’ll keep going until I reach ZZ Top. I’ve just gotten to the middle of the Ms, and I’ve realized — again — how much I enjoy listening to The Monkees.
What can I say? I’m a child of the ’60s. I remember watching The Monkees TV show when I was a kid, thinking it was funny, and liking the music. My sister, along with most girls, liked Davy Jones. My favorite Monkee was Mickey Dolenz. Some of my friends liked Peter Tork because he was funny; others liked Mike Nesmith because he always wore a stocking cap with a yarn ball on top. I didn’t care that people said the Monkees didn’t play the instruments on their records, and I didn’t care that the TV show was silly gags combined with a shameless rip-off of The Beatles in Help! and A Hard Day’s Night.
When The Monkees went off the air I continued to buy and listen to their records. I listened to them in college in the ’70s, when Monkees tunes were among the most popular played at our Omnibus dance parties. And I think their music still holds up today. Unlike the hits of Bobby Sherman, or The Partridge Family, or other pre-packaged TV/music crossovers, The Monkees songs were high-quality pop, salted with a bit — and just a bit — of the psychedelic edginess that characterized lots of ’60s music. Songs like Last Train to Clarksville, I’m A Believer, and Pleasant Valley Sunday remain great tracks.
My favorite Monkees tune is Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day, from their debut album. The YouTube clip of the TV show video of the song portrays the zany, antic Monkees in full A Hard Day’s Night rip-off mode, but the song is still a classic: