Howdy, folks. I have a song that’s been stuck in my head for a few days now, and that has prompted me to talk about something I used to be embarrassed about: I freaking love The Monkees.
Why would I be embarrassed about that? Well, I first heard them when I was 14. While everyone else was listening to Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and other boy bands, I was into a band from the ’60s. When you’re a teenager, that’s totally embarrassing. But I was super obsessed with this group, and I absolutely loved their music and TV show.
Now, it was 1997 when I first saw them on TV. I remember the episode (“Dance, Monkees, Dance!”). That summer, TV Land played marathons every Monday (Monkee Monday!). Yes, I remember the weirdest and most useless stuff sometimes. And I was hooked.
Again this was the ’90s. The internet, YouTube and other things like that didn’t exist yet. The only way I could watch was on TV. The only way I could listen to their music was by buying a cassette. So I went to Walmart to buy a cassette. Guess what? They didn’t have anything by The Monkees. But they had a CD. So, that day, I bought a CD player and my first CD, “The Monkees Greatest Hits.”
So, let me tell you how much of a challenge it was to be a fan of a 30-year-old (at the time) music group. I’m sure it was crazy easy to buy Backstreet Boys and NSYNC merch and albums and whatnot. Well, The Monkees stuff was dang near impossible to find. I would record what I could off TV onto VHS. But there were a handful of episodes that they just would not air on TV. The CDs I found in various stores here and there. Ordering online was not yet something that was common, and I would have had to get permission from my parents, and I was too embarrassed to ask. I did find some of their records in antique stores, and I finally got to listen to them for the first time this year. (Three records was not enough to justify buying a record player.)
After a couple years as a fan, I was able to order stuff on eBay. But I still couldn’t get all the episodes. Finally, the entire series was released on DVD. It was released one season at a time — there were only two seasons — and it was some sort of special box set. I am actually still embarrassed to say that I spent nearly $200 on both (I think I was still in college when these came out). But I had to have them!
It took me years — not kidding, YEARS — to get all their albums. Sometimes, it so frustrating to know that if I was 14 today and became a fan, I could just go on YouTube and watch all their episodes and hear all their music. I could order anything online. It would have been so much easier! Oh well, it was kind of a fun challenge as a kid.
I am still a fan, by the way. Their music is so relaxing. The argument I hear against them is that “they aren’t a real group, and they don’t play their own instruments.” Well, yeah, at first they didn’t. I mean, they were four actors hired for roles on a TV show. But, very long story short, they did play their own instruments and sang their own songs. If you would ever like to hear The Monkees 100 percent as themselves, the best album to do that is Headquarters. By the way, it took me three seconds to find their album on YouTube. Probably took me two years to find it when I was a kid.
And I would like to point out that they released an album a few years ago. It was actually really well done. It sounded like something that would have been released in the ’60s. This song is my favorite on the album: “Me & Magdalena.”
I do want to point out that Mike is my favorite, and he continued singing after the Monkees broke up. I love his music, and it’s not because he’s a Monkee. I like to point out this song — which you probably heard Linda Ronstadt’s version — as one of my favorites: “Different Drum.” And you can credit him for helping create MTV. Also, he won the first Grammy Award given for (long-form) Music-Video in 1982, for his hour-long “Elephant Parts.” If you have time and enjoy bizarre, off-the-wall humor mixed with some really good music, you may like it. It sure is different. And I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know I have it on DVD.
OK, I guess that’s enough fan-girling for today. I’m totally laughing at myself for how long this post is. Bonus: I do enjoy other music, though my tastes are kind of all over the place. I also love REM, Johnny Cash, They Might Be Giants, Cake, Weird Al, Pink and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Until next time!