With Michael Nesmith passing away, it brought back memories of my love of the Monkees in the 1970s. I was a little obsessed with them. Well, as much as you can be when you’re 9, your show is on once a week and you don’t have money to buy any merchandise.
The Monkees TV Show
The local TV station started airing the Monkees in late 1975, through 1977. I watched, thinking it was a brand-new show. I later learned it was from the 1960s, but that didn’t change my feelings about it.
My obsession consisted mostly of daydreaming about the show after watching an episode and seeing the scenes and hearing the songs in my head. Some people used audio cassette tape recorders to record their favorite TV shows back then, but the thought hadn’t occurred to me. I don’t know when video cassette recorders first came out, but my family didn’t get one until the mid-1980s.
I soon discovered that the show was popular with many girls in my class. One day while waiting in the long lunch line at school, girls started talking about which of the Monkees was the cutest. I liked them all. But most of the other girls had favorites and Davy seemed the most popular. In fact, one girl said that when Davy came on TV, she went right up to her TV screen and kissed him. She couldn’t help herself, she said.
That level of obsession was beyond kooky to me. My mom didn’t even like us sitting too close to the TV because it might damage our vision. And I had no interest in kissing the screen of my old, dusty Zenith anyway. In fact, I remember getting static shocks on my hand from touching the TV dial after walking across the carpet in my socks. I wondered if my classmate ever got a static shock from those glass screens most TVs had back then. Her strange confession stuck in my head and every time Davy had a close-up on screen, I had thoughts about the creepy thing my classmate was doing to her TV at that moment.
Looking back now, I can see that the show was probably designed for my age group. And it worked. It made me happy with all the silliness, the catchy songs and the novelty of their playing music while being goofy. I don’t remember seeing a lot of bands on TV that interested me in the ‘70s. But as soon as I heard the Monkees theme song’s opening line, “Hey Hey, we’re the Monkees,” I was seated and wouldn’t get up during the commercials.
It was hard not to smile with Davy Jones dancing and singing sweet songs, like Daydream Believer. And Micky Dolenz singing the catchy I’m a Believer – another signature Monkees song that I remember well.
The Monkees Album
In the ‘70s, TV ads often encouraged you to call a number to order products for delivery. Our family did not buy products off TV. Delivery was expensive. I’m pretty sure I begged my mother for their album after seeing one of the TV ads. So, she must have made an exception to buy me a two-record set with all the hits I knew from the TV show. Package deliveries in the ‘70s were very slow, usually between 4 to 8 weeks. Long enough that you were happily surprised when the package arrived because you had given up hope that it would ever be delivered. That’s what I remember feeling when my Monkees album arrived. Just glee. And I played the records over and over again. So many songs that were all mine, 24 hours a day. No more waiting all week to hear a few minutes of music on their show. It was much easier to be obsessed when music is coming out of the record player’s speakers and not just my mind replying songs from the show.
Who’s Got the Button book
They had a novel! My grandmother got me the hardcover book that I didn’t even know existed. Originally published in 1968, it featured the Monkees as characters in a novel written by William Johnston. I was so happy and surprised. I have no memory of the book’s plot now. I just remember that I read it, liked it, and planned to keep it forever. Then, one day, I came home to find most of the front cover chewed off. What remained of the cover was just gnawed, ragged edges. My dog had eaten it. Or as the evidence showed, he had chewed it, then spit it out. He wasn’t usually a book eater, so I couldn’t believe he ate my Monkees book. Why Brownie. Why?
Even though my interest in the Monkees faded as I got older, I can still look back and remember how the Monkees were a joyful part of my childhood and listening to their music brings all those feelings back. And Michael Nesmith was an important part of that group and my memories.