What can you say about the Monkees? Quite a bit, but I’m not going to read or repeat any of the tributes now clogging the ether. They were a mediocre band who benefited from some great songwriting talent. The TV show lasted just a couple of seasons, and looking at it today you can see why. They were going for the youthful, high-energy whimsy of the Beatles in Hard Day’s Night, and came pretty close. Too bad it’s the nature of youthful whimsy to quickly become tiresome. Davy Jones still had a pretty good ride. It was only when the Monkees started taking themselves seriously as musicians that their goofy charm evaporated.
My little sister had a huge crush on Davy Jones, of course. So did my wife. Ten-year-old girls are funny that way. You take an extremely cute guy who appears to be as talented as Paul McCartney, put him on a weekly TV show with three guys of lesser cuteness, and they’re falling all over themselves.
Now’s probably a good time to admit this: I liked him too. I think I liked most that he seemed open to self-mockery, that he was never consumed by any phony artistic angst, and that he was happy beating that tambourine. He never pretended to be anything other than second-tier pop singer. He seemed to love his time in the sun. He may have had his dark side, but I always appreciate when celebrities keep that kind of crap to themselves.
Finally, he’s a contemporary. We share a first name and time called the ’60s. He did a guest shot on “The Brady Bunch.” A guy like that dies, only 66, and it makes you realize that the age comes when anything at all can happen, at any time. Like I needed reminding.