“Hey, HEY – We’re The Monkees!”
By Stephen L Doherty
October 9th, 2022
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato
They were goofy. They were silly. They were bubble gum. Admitting that you even listened to them could be cause for embarrassment and possible peer-group derision and scorn. They didn’t even play their own instruments and their Saturday morning TV show was perhaps the worst half-hour in the history of television.
The Monkees were to rock & roll what Spam is to steak. What warm beer is to champagne. What a fart is to Chanel. In short, they were talentless stooges with a lottery ticket. And in 1966 – The Monkees outsold the Beatles AND The Rolling Stones – COMBINED!
I was a kid when the Monkees arrived on the scene in 1965 with their first album, simply dubbed, The Monkees. To this day, I still play tracks from that ancient collection and it never ceases to uplift and and entertain me. Subsequent albums contributed songs that still puncuate memorable moments and milestones in my life and served as part of the soundtrack for my adolescence.
“Sometime in the Morning” is still a beautiful and hauntingly familiar reminder of so much that was memorable and significant during my youth. “Daydream Believer” will always be a favorite. “Shades of Gray” still haunting.
The power of the music in our lives is spectacular. Like the air we breathe, the food we eat, the movies we watch, and the books we read – music has the ability to interwine itself into the very fabric of our lives and weave itself forever into our souls. It’s power can be aptly illustrated and appreciated when merely considering the breadth of its impact on our daily lives.
Music can put us into “beast mode” at the gym. It can emotionally lubricate and enhance an endless array of special moments and occassions in our lives. Its ability to trigger the senses before, during, and years after an event – is almost beyond belief. Perhaps its most alluring feature is allowing us, for just a moment, to travel back through time to places, people, and events housed in the ancient mists of our memories.
Music may well be the most subjective topic there is for listeners. Our respective personal filters and varied lives create an almost infinite sampling size of subjects that a similar amount of artists and musicians are willing to create and design to.
I was often ridiculed for my love of The Carpenters and I, to this day, could never understand or appreciate those who reveled in Jethro Tull or AC-DC. Their respective popularity was all the proof we needed of musical variety vs musical tastes. The common thread was the simple fact that we all sought out, and permanently etched into our lives, our choice of soundtracks for our respective journies.
The innocence and sweetness of the 60s, like the big bands and solo performers of the 40s and 50s, began to fade into history as the turbulence and unrest of the 70s emerged and began scratching an indelible groove into the national psyche.
The seriousness and somberness of the times was reflected in the evolution of the music we enjoyed. The light and whimsical ballads and lyrics of groups like The Monkees morphed with the times to better reflect the massive changes in society and culture. Bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the WHO, Deep Purple – and all the rest became the musical standard bearers.
The Monkees and the 60s ultimately became a cultural footnote as our society demanded different tunes and personas. The Monkees, and other bands of the day – may well be gone, but they are hardly forgotten by the millions of former kids whose adult lives are infinitely better for having heard their music. Their music reflected, like the title of Paul Anka’s most famous song, “The Times of Our Lives.”
Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people. —Peter Strople