For me, Jones was a superb entertainer and pop vocalist in an ultra-competitive and most memorable era. What did the Monkees share with groups like the Beatles, the Band, the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield? Cynics will say, "absolutely nothing--the Monkees were manufactured." Hey, so was Procol Harum (the group was assembled after 1967's huge hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale," which featured studio musicians and future Procol members). The Monkees did have something in common with those B-letter bands: All of them had three excellent, distinctive lead vocalists (in the Pre-fab Four's case, Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith). This accomplishment is worth noting, as there were several successful '60s bands without even one first-rate singer.
As I told my radio audio audience on Saturday, "If you're looking for sappy ballads
on this Davy Jones tribute segment, you should listen to someone else's program." Because KAOS is a non-commercial station, I made sure to omit the big hits--I also stayed away from slow songs, and it was a stronger batch of tunes because of that. My guess is that all sorts of announcers put "Daydream Believer" on the air, or that song Davy sang to Marcia Brady on TV. Instead, my set consisted of...
"When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door)" from More of the Monkees (1967):
Davy's double-tracked singing (with the other voice in counterpoint) is touching, effective--you can't get it out of your head.
"Cuddly Toy" (Live, 1976 version from Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart's Concert In Japan): In which Jones' dancing translates to an audio recording, thanks to Micky's onstage observation: "Watch his feet--every move a miracle! Those feet are insured for two million yen."
"Forget That Girl" from the Monkees' Headquarters (1967): Lovely, jangly Nesmith guitar and an appropriately ethereal Jones vocal.
"A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" from Davy Jones Live!!! (Hercules Promotions,
2004 release): Just one slice from an '03 Connecticut performance brimming with great music and humor--a little known gem of an album.
"Gonna Build a Mountain" from Live 1967, the Rhino collection of the Monkees' Pacific
Northwest tour that year. Who says we're passive in the NW? The kids are screaming like crazy, and Davy's Anthony Newley-meets-rock'n'roll romp ended the segment in
As a kid, I adored the Monkees--even stayed at home at age 11 on Halloween night 1966 because I didn't want to miss their weekly, Monday TV show--and twenty years later, getting to share them with my daughter Mirelle was a beautiful, connecting thing for us. We caught at least two Monkees reunion shows together in the 1980s, and this week, Rell and I talked a lot on the phone about Jones' passing, so it's a bond that time won't break down. Also, I have relatives who worked with this most positive, inspirational man; my heart goes out to them, and especially to Davy's family.
In avoiding the obvious Davy Jones songs for radio play, I neglected Neil Diamond's "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," perhaps Jones' best rocker of all, but I've been playing the Monkees at home all week anyway. Maybe you've been spinning their records at home, too, and you get all those Monkees in-jokes. Here's mine: Don't be
sad, don't be mad. Don't ask, "How could this happen? Frickin' A." Instead, shout out, "Seven A!"