“Here we come, walking down the street. Get the funniest looks from everyone we meet.” Turns out all of us who crushed on Davy Jones aren’t giving each other funny looks over it anymore. With news of his death, all over facebook and in the streets, mutual confessions abound. He — actually what I projected on him — was my first true love in a kinda, sorta way because obviously, I never knew him personally. I just knew him from TV and records, and from that vantage point, he was both everything I wanted to be and the only man I wanted to be with. How could I resist? Watch his audition video for the Monkees here.
The Monkees hit their peak at the exact point that the pre-teen hormones overtook my little person. I say “little” because I was small for my age, even more so, as a kid, and so a 5’3″ (in his boots) man with a British accent was just the ticket. There was something about growing up in the 60s that made his accent intoxicating to little Brooklyn girls like me. Years later, in Columbia, Missouri, a friend and I had a Davy Jones night when we walked over town and along the train tracks saying, “Li-al Me-al Ba-al caps” (little metal bottle caps) just like we heard Davy say once.
My two cousins and I played Monkees constantly, and of course, I was Davy. It was perfect since I dreamed of being a little, funny, singing sensation, on tour around the U.S. and (be still, small heart) Great Britain too. Occasionally, we got intellectual and played Beatles — I was always Ringo, by choice no less (I was a strange girl) — but we soon went back to the Monkees, and why not? Their antics were legendary, they gave us lots of materials in terms of grand-standing-joking-around, plus they weren’t here to put anybody down.
My first album was “Headquarters,” and I remember the shining moment my parents gave it to me in the living room of our Brooklyn tri-plex. I held the album in the my hands, surrounded by our plastic-encased furniture, then rushed upstairs to my record player to listen to it a million times. I immersed myself in all other Monkees’ songs, analyzing every nuance of all “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and of course my favorite, “Daydream Believer” (what does it mean that the razor is cold? I would ask myself). My mother also gave me an Iron Butterfly album, having heard from a babysitter that listening to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” would make me popular, but Iron Butterfly was nothing to me compared to even minor Monkees’ songs like “You Told Me.”
Did I know the Monkees were a manufactured band, a kind of publicity stunt, the first automated example of band branding in what would become the norm? Did I know the weekly TV show I pined for was a quasi-artificial reality show? Sure, but did I care? Not when Davy Jones brushed his long bangs from his forehead and smiled at me through the screen, shrugging as if to say, “What ya gonna do?” before joking around with Peter on the piano in their striped shirts while Mickey pranced through in his psychedelic flowing blouse.
What Davy Jones and the Monkees gave to me was overflowing and unmitigated joy. I turned up the volume and jumped on my bed on lonely afternoons when I didn’t have anyone to play with (having alienated many of the neighborhood kids by constantly bursting out in song, drawing from a combination of Broadway musicals, Barbra Streisand and the Monkees). I watched Davy each week on TV with great interest. Here was someone weird, small, quirky, clumsy, funny and enthralled with music, mirroring for me a life shaped by art, friendship, adventure, magic and even love. I’m still a believer.