Davey Jones of The Monkees died this week. I can’t explain why this hit me so hard, other contemporary celebrities have passed in recent months, some younger than him. He was only 66 years old. People who I considered old back when I was watching “The Monkees” in 1966 now seem young. I guess it hit me hard because I felt like another piece of my youth was slipping away, the glare of reality and time slapping me in the face.
I was probably ten or eleven when “The Monkees” TV show made its debut. There had never been anything like it that I had ever seen before. Here were four cute guys that were funny and could sing, had great songs, and their own TV show. My friends and I, along with tens of thousands of other adolescents, were hooked. Our love affair spanned two glorious years of hijinks with the likes of Davey, Mike, Peter and Mickey.
Although everyone had their favorites (mine was Mickey), it was the whole group that made them individually so appealing and likable. Their pratfalls and over exaggerated reactions, their self-deprecating banter, and their chemistry all played to the nth degree of corniness – we loved it. I still remember crying when the closing music came on much too soon. Was it over already?
It brings back summer days helping my father mow the lawn, listening to Pleasant Valley Sunday. My Dad had four daughters and that meant that my sisters and I got stuck with all of the traditional boy chores. But we also got to go fishing and to baseball games, so I didn’t really mind the chores, that just meant I got to spend more time with him.
I recall the days my best friend Jill would knock on my window at 5 A.M. in the morning to go watch the sunrise at the park. We ate popsicles and listened excitedly to Valleri, Daydream Believer, and of course, Pleasant Valley Sunday when they were played for the first time on the radio, sure to become number one hits.
We were innocent and full of hope and enthusiasm for the future. That was before we grew up and had to take on responsibility, before too much happened to us to make us lose our innocence and enthusiasm.
When I hear the beginning guitar chords of Pleasant Valley Sunday, I can still feel the warmth of that summer day, the smell of the newly cut grass, and the feel of everything being right with the world. I now feel like all of those songs, the show, and its memories were a gift of a simpler innocent time of my youth. It was a time of great music, crushes, laughter and an occasional slap in the face…with a cream pie.
I read in his obituary that Davey Jones had four daughters. I wonder if they had to do all the boy chores with their Father, if so, lucky for them. I know how blessed they must feel. Thanks Davey for all of those great memories. I can almost smell the charcoal burning everywhere…