By Maria Schulz
One of my very earliest memories of childhood revolved around watching shows on our tiny television set. There was I Dream of Jeannie, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, The Munsters, The Addams Family, The Little Rascals and Creature Feature on Chiller Theater after Saturday night mass.
But one of my favorite shows was about four young men who would walk stacked up against each other, moving their legs together in tandem. My brothers and I goofed around just like them and sang along to their theme song:
“Here we come,
Walking down the street.
We get the funniest looks from
Everyone we meet.
Hey, hey we’re The Monkees
And people say we monkey around
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down.
We’re just trying to be friendly,
So come along and see us play.
‘Cause we’re the young generation,
And we’ve got something to say.”
I watched every single episode of The Monkees in syndication, especially in the summers when they were on in the early afternoon.
My brothers and I worried every time one of the boys got in trouble. Was Davey in love with the wrong girl…again? Would Peter really have to sell his soul to the devil? Would Mike ever take that hat off? Would Mickey ever stop laughing?
My brothers and I, with occasional backup help from Mom and Dad, would belt out every tune like we were Ethel Merman on the Broadway stage. We had all of the albums and enjoyed Pleasant Valley Sunday, Last Train to Clarkesville, Day Dream Believer, You Just May be the One, I’m a Believer and I’m Gonna Buy Me a Dog, which always delighted me because it captured the goofy, joyful side of Mickey’s and Davy’s relationship.
When Davy showed up in the nick of time and agreed to be Marcia Brady’s date to the Prom, I got my first taste of what “Must See TV” really was all about. I could’ve really used his number in 1984 when I had my own Prom, but then I would’ve had to ditch the best Prom date ever. I think my cousin Tommy would’ve understood.
One time, I remember laying across the back seat of my Uncle Don’s car as we drove Uncle Sal home to Manhattan. As we came
out of the Midtown Tunnel, I looked up and saw all the lights in each skyscraper twinkling up into the night-time sky.
On the radio, they were playing The Monkees, and I sang along to Day Dream Believer as Manhattan stretched out before us. It was a beautiful, clear night and I loved driving with my uncles like this, listening to The Monkees and Davy Jones croon away. How could you ever feel unhappy when The Monkees were on the radio?
Last June, my brother Jude took my brothers Joe and Chris, my nephew Tom, Joe’s friend Steve, and me to see The Monkees live at the Westbury Music Fair. Yes, I know it has a new name, but it will always be The Westbury Music Fair to me.
Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz came running out on stage. For three hours they told stories, sang songs, brought the house to its’ feet, and danced. They showed photos of their heyday on jumbo-trons around the theater, and told us hilarious anecdotes about meeting The Beatles and even the Queen of England. Mike Nesbit didn’t tour with them, but it seemed like he was there anyway.
My brothers and I sang along to the songs and laughed at the stories. I couldn’t believe how great Davy Jones looked. I had heard Peter Tork was sick, so I wondered if this would be the last of their tours. For someone who wasn’t supposed to be feeling well, he played and laughed and ran around that stage the whole night. Mickey Dolenz still had that funny banter and goofy good-natured persona that made me love him all those years ago.
The Monkees ran off stage three times, and ran back up again for curtain calls. I started to wonder if they would ever get off. When I first got to the theater, I was tired after a long day of work and briefly considered not going. But in the end, I was so glad I went.
I left that theater with a big smile on my face and enjoyed talking with my nephew, Tom, about his favorite songs and how he enjoyed the concert. The next day, I hung up the ticket stub in my office cubicle. It makes me smile every time I see it.
So last week, when my friend Joe came back from lunch and said, “Did you hear?” I wondered what was up.
“Who died?” I said. “You look like it’s someone I love.”
“It is,” he replied. “Remember The Monkees?”
“Oh no,” I said. “Who?”
Joe replied. “Davy Jones.”
Wow! Not Davy! He looked so great last year, so full of life and so happy to be out on that stage. I was shocked. I immediately called my brother Chris. He picked up on the first ring.
“I know,” he said.
“What else? It’s like a piece of our childhood just died.”
At first I didn’t want to agree with him, but now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I know what he meant.
From the music to the TV show to the wacky clothes and haircuts, The Monkees were all about being young, having fun, and looking at life as a joyful road, filled with endless possibilities. Here were 4 young guys plucked from relative obscurity to form a band that we loved like our own “Fab 4.” While we understood that The Monkees were not The Beatles in any way, it never mattered to me.
The Monkees weren’t about serious things. They were all about having a good time, and I’m so glad they let us come along. I’ll never forget Davy Jones playing the maracas last June, dancing his happy dance and smiling up a storm while fans like me smiled along with him.
I hope he’s in heaven right now, putting on a show…and I hope my family members who are already there get to see it!
I considered NOT including a recipe here because I felt really sad when I heard that Davy Jones passed away. But then I thought: why not celebrate life and joy instead of focusing on sadness and death? Besides, life’s too short. Let’s eat.
Here’s a fun recipe for Monkey Cupcakes for Kids (yes, I still consider myself a kid). They’re perky, fun, and will make you smile. Sound familiar?
So Hungry Lifers…do you have any thoughts about Davy Jones and The Monkees? Share your favorite memories, songs, or anything else. Thanks!