Davey Jones of the Monkees died last week and it was a sad day around Casa De Freak. Seems that Mrs. Freak had a preadolescent crush on Mr. Jones and was convinced that she would marry him. Alas, things between them didn’t work out and she wound up with me. Granted life with me is less glamorous than I image life as a Monkee Wife would be, but I think that Mrs. Freak is a catchier name than Mrs. Jones.
As I’ve seen the reaction to the death of Mr. Jones I’ve seen a lot of comments in the media and various music blogs about the place of the Monkees in pop music history. While the Prefab Four certainly paved the way for marketing-derived bands from the Sex Pistols to New Kids On The Block, the real importance of his death lies with its impact on Women Of A Certain Age who crushed on him like Mrs. Freak.
And so this week we honor the memory of a generation’s favorite short Englishman.
SST “I’m A Believer” (The Monkees)
For me this song encapsulates the doe-eyed optimism of the 60s before the Summer of Love fell apart. And this cool syncopated take is very much of the 60s in its own right. It sounds like the version that your friend’s cool parents might listen to.
Code Of Ethics “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (The Monkees)
This has always struck me as kind of an odd choice of a song for the Monkees since it criticizes empty consumerism and suburban life. Not only was it a departure from their standard selection of optimistic love songs, let’s face it the whole concept of the Monkees was based on empty consumerism.
Atomic Kitten “Daydream Believer” (The Monkees)
I realize that writing a good song lyric is a challenge, what with the need to fit words into the meter of the music. But the line “my shaving razor’s cold and it stings” has always bugged me. Your shaving razor? As opposed to all the other razors you use for other non-shaving purposes? Like the one you keep in your shoe to cut people?
Atomic Kitten was a British prefab pop group so it’s very appropriate that they covered the Monkees.
Harry Nilsson “Cuddly Toy” (The Monkees)
Harry Nilsson wrote this song so it may not be entirely fair to call this a cover, especially since this recording comes from his appearance in the studio to play his songs for the Monkees. He was trying to sell them a song or two and wound up getting them to bite on “Cuddly Toy.” Still, it’s nice to hear this little pop gem in a stripped down acoustic setting. It really sounds like a lost track from Rubber Soul.
Jim Paul Blair “Gonna Buy Me A Dog” (The Monkees)
The original version of this was played as a jokey novelty tune with gratuitous barking , but it’s perfect as a bluegrass kiss-off.
Buzzy Jones “Your Auntie Grizelda” (The Monkees)
Normally I post five songs a week but since the Nilsson song’s a bit questionable I’m including a bonus song. This is another novelty tune that was never released as a single but for some reason appears on every Monkees compilation. This version sounds a bit more threatening than the original, like the singer wouldn’t mind sticking a switchblade in Auntie Grizelda. I love the subtle lyrical change where he calls her a bitch.