People Say We Monkey Around: Remembering Davy Jones and the Monkees’ Influence on My Life

Davy Jones has been a presence in our household the last few months. Along with Mike, Peter and Micky. Ever since I had discovered that the Monkees were on one of the obscure local digital channels and I played one for my 9-year-old daughter. And she got hooked by the show. Now the episodes are recorded every weekend and the Monkees CDs are her top music choice.

So Davy’s passing this week resonated more than it would have a year ago. I was quite surprised to hear of his death. He always seemed perennially youthful. I will admit that Mike was always my favorite Monkees (it probably had to do as much with our shared interested in wearing hats as it did with our shared names). But my daughter, like all good pre-teen girls had her eyes on Davy. She was never a Justin Bieber or Jonas Brothers fan, but Davy made a connection with her. She hasn’t explained why; however, there are pretty obvious reasons. The same reasons that young girls for 40 some years have had crushes on Davy – he’s cute and has an English accent.

It has been really fun to share my Monkees fandom with my daughter. The Monkees were one of the two formative TV shows of my youth. The other being Laugh-In. At one point, when I was a kid, our record player broke and instead of getting another one, my parents gave away our records (don’t get me started on that). But the one album I kept was the first Monkees album. Not even in the cardboard sleeve but in an old Holiday Inn laundry bag.

Watching the shows again have been a fun treat. They still hold their goofy charm, but I hadn’t remember just how cheaply made they were. The show helped to establish the quartet’s public personas: the wacky Micky, the serious Mike, the sweet but dim Peter and the impish romantic Davy. The show, maybe more than the music, turned my daughter into a fan as she as enjoyed the kooky, old-fashion comedy and the band’s personalities. Watching the episodes again also served as a reminder that making this type of show isn’t easy to create (as the Jonas Brothers’ show proved).

It also has been a pleasure to listen to the Monkees’ music again. There is a real timelessness to their hits like “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m A Believer” as well as bringing back to my mind other terrific tunes like “What Am I Doing  Hanging ‘Round” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere.” Oh, I could go on listing them.

I was surprised that Davy wasn’t the lead singer on more of the songs, that Micky filled that role more often. It wasn’t how I remembered it to be. But Davy did shine on tunes like “Daydream Believer” and “I Want To Be Free.” He was less of a rocker and more of a song and dance man, which makes sense considering his theater background.

Thinking back now to what the Monkees have meant to me, both as a child and now as an adult, I want to profound but I just feel nostalgic. Their music and TV show played a big role in my childhood and have nicely returned to be something that my daughter likes. I had wanted to write about this bond that I now have with my daughter due to the Monkees; however, it is sad that I am only getting around to it because of Davy’s death.

The Monkees never got a lot of respect or accolades, undoubtedly due their manufactured origins but they do deserve recognition for their accomplishments.  So thanks Davy, and Mike and Peter and Micky for creating music that spans generations and a show that can still make people laugh.

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About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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4 Responses to People Say We Monkey Around: Remembering Davy Jones and the Monkees’ Influence on My Life

  1. How wonderful that you and you daughter can share this childhood bond. I hadn’t thought of Davy Jones or The Monkees in decades, and was surprised at the reaction his death brought in the media. It’s been nice, though, to take an uncomplicated stroll down memory lane to a more innocent time.

    • Thanks. It has been a nice surprise that she has gotten into this band that was such a part of my childhood. I haven’t tried to force much of my musical tastes on her because I’ve seen that has often backfired.

  2. Jane Boursaw says:

    I have that Monkees album, too! Sigh….

    And that’s really cool that your daughter is a fan. I’m not sure my 14-yo even knows who the Monkees are. I know, it’s shameful on my part.

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