Hey, Hey, They’re The Monkees

After all these years I think Michael Nesmith has finally gotten it. After taking a well-deserved intermission during The Monkees’ show at the Tivoli Theatre, the two remaining members of the band took the stage separately, First Micky Dolenz came out and delivered a small, yet humorous monolog about the band and their ill-fated movie, “Head”, which along with the cancellation of their series started to signify the end of The Monkees popularity despite hanging on for two years longer with both Peter Tork, the first to drop out before going away and Nesmith around 1970 minus a few reunions over the years. Dolenz then sang “The Porpoise” song from the movie.

Micky Dolenz ©Dave Weinthal

Then it was Nesmith’s turn to take the stage. Over the course of the band’s 55 year history he was the most standoffish about the reunion tours. In 1986 he did not take part in the 20th anniversary tour despite a new album and a new generation discovering them thank to MTV hosting a marathon of the show. While he did join the other three on stage for a show in Los Angeles, he said he was too busy to tour with the guys. Ten years later he did join them for part of the 30th anniversary even taking part in the new album Justus and helped produce a TV movie starring the band.

Once again, when The Monkees decided to embark on a 45th anniversary tour Nesmith was nowhere to be found. A year later Davy Jones unexpectedly passed away. Having a change of heart as he joined Dolenz and Tork for part of the 50th anniversary tour.

In 2016 the three remaining members released their first album of new material called Good Times! the received praise from fans and critics alike, making it into the Top 20 on the Billboard charts.

A little over two years ago Tork passed away leaving only Micky and Mike. Dolenz had always stayed busy often performing on various tour packages with other ‘60s artists. Of the four Monkees, he was the only one who embraced the band’s music his entire career, unlike the others with Nesmith distancing himself the most. With Peter’s passing, the two surviving members decided to do one last tour celebrating the group’s 55th anniversary.

View photo gallery of The Mike and Micky Show here.

Nesmith was introduced to the crowd after Dolenz finished “Porpoise Song”. With the spotlight squarely on him, Nesmith’s monologue reflected the power music has on everyone’s life and has even been known to save lives. Someone somewhere is listening to what someone might consider a “silly” pop song, but no one knows the affect it had on that person, Nesmith said. As he was saying these words, his voice started to break up a little.

It was as if he was having an epiphany regarding The Monkees and how much not only the songs were loved, but also the members of the band – even if they did not write a majority of their songs for the first couple of albums.

The ongoing battle between the band – originally hired as actors to portray a band and music director Don Kirschner was things many stories have been written about. During the course of the show the four hired hands transformed into the band and not in name only.

The concept of the show was to capitalize on the popularity of The Beatles and that they did and became friendly rivals as both bands fought over chart dominance for over two years. The biggest critics of The Monkees called them the “Pre-Fab Four”, since they didn’t write their own material. If one is going to do that they need to be critical of Elvis Presley, who didn’t write his own material or even Frank Sinatra for that matter. The Byrds weren’t even allowed to play on their first album as the label insisted studio musicians play the music with only vocals being performed by the band.

By the time the second season The Monkees learned to play their instruments and started to gain a little more control over their music. People seem to forget The Monkees had some of the world’s greatest songwriters pen their early work with everyone from Carole King, Neil Diamond, Gerry Goffin, Neil Swdaka, Carol Bayer Sager and of course the songwriting team on Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

And while The Monkees may not have written all of their songs, they are the ones that introduced them to everyone in the crowd on this particular night, but also millions worldwide. We all loved and still do love the songs, we loved the guys on the show and their individual personalities and quite frankly the origins did not matter. The critics were too hard on them as were the members of the band on themselves. While there are all sorts of classes on musical theory and such and it’s a trillion dollar business these days, some of us just take joy in the music – all sorts of music and it’s that simple. Music’s biggest goal is to be enjoyed – plain and simple. And I think Nesmith after fighting the good fight worrying about being taken seriously as a musician or having to prove himself as a songwriter, finally realized that The Monkees as a whole mean a lot to a lot of people and serves a purpose in pop culture and music history.

And it’s about time. Better late than never.

Mike Nesmith ©Dave Weinthal

Dolenz, on the other hand who has gone on to be successful in other ventures outside of The Monkees has always embraced his old group be it considered prefabricated or not. Working on film, TV and recording a couple of solo albums he has recorded albums consisting of songs written by Carole King, a big songwriting contributor to the original show before her own legendary recording career took off and of songs written by Nesmith, himself.

This was very evident by the full house in attendance, who obviously grew up watching the TV show and have many of the albums still in their record collection. When “Daydream Believer” was started Dolenz led the way on the song most famously sung by the late Davy Jones. It was basically a sing-along as he held the mic into the crowd as the whole audience sang lead vocals. In fact, the majority of the songs on the evening were sing-alongs as everyone, present company included sang along with all the songs we were familiar.

The Monkees are an important part of pop culture, the history of popular radio and history itself and the era they were a part. The band literally brought smiles to millions of people and have done so for more than 50 years and unlike other bands they were around like The Beatles, The Byrds and others all members remained friends throughout their lives and I was so happy I got to see Micky one last again. And I am very thankful I finally got to see Mike.

The Monkees Setlist
Good Clean Fun
Last Train to Clarksville
The Kind of Girl I Could Love
Different Drum
Sunny Girlfriend
Mary, Mary
You Just May Be the One
For Pete’s Sake
The Door Into Summer
Randy Scouse Git
Love Is Only Sleeping
Birth of an Accidental Hipster
St. Matthew
As We Go Along
Circle Sky
Pleasant Valley Sunday

Set 2
Porpoise Song (Theme From “Head”)
While I Cry
Me & Magdelena
Papa Gene’s Blues
The Girl I Knew Somewhere
A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You
Tapioca Tundra
Auntie’s Municipal Court
What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ’round?
Goin’ Down
Sweet Young Thing
(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
Daydream Believer
Listen to the Band
I’m a Believer

 – Dave Weinthal