Today, my lovely Creeter Readers, you are in for a real treat. I have been working on a Mix Tape that would reflect my love for The Monkees. I know on the surface that doesn’t seem like a very Christmas-y topic for the day before Christmas Eve, especially since I already put their one Christmas song on the previous playlist, but read a little further and you’ll see how I intend to justify this post.
In case you haven’t been properly informed (and were too lazy to click on the link to Wikipedia), The Monkees was a revolutionary television show from 1966-68 about four young musicians living in a beach house and trying to make it as a band….or at least get any kind of job. And the songs featured on the show were actually sold as real albums. Why was this revolutionary? Glad you asked! For the first time on television, there was no authority figure to keep these “long-haired weirdos” in line. In fact, for the first time on television there were long-haired weirdos in the first place. The Monkees catered to the hip crowd, because it was made by the hip crowd. The creators of the show (Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider) were young and visionary, and the four actors they got to play the parts were, as well. That is: Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith. (My favorite is Mike, the one in the wool hat.)
(Photo curtesy of Psycho Jello, one of the few awesome Monkees websites still up. Go there and read about the heyday of Monkees sites on the interwebs from the late 90’s-early millenium. I definitely remember those days…)
My fellow Monkees-lovers and I have this theory. Let me lay it out for you:
Girls who grow up loving the Monkees are pretty much a cut above the rest. We develop a quirky sense of humor and a love for eclectic music, not to mention we have to learn how to defend ourselves from people who say they weren’t a real band or they were hated by the “real” musicians (neither of which are true, by the by).
We call ourselves the Monkees Alumnae. Not that we outgrew the Monkees, since the love never really goes away, but because we’ve matured into open-minded individuals who are always looking to broaden our music, movie, and television horizons.
Not every Monkees fan is an Alumna. There are those who only take a casual interest in the music, or are amused by the show, but their investment in The Monkees usually just consists of having a crush on Davy Jones. That’s not the kind of fan I’m talking about. Almost every female fan starts out with a crush on Davy. He’s just that guy. But most of the time, as the girl starts to become a Monkees Alumna and really appreciate the bizarre aspects of the show/music, she outgrows Davy and finds one of the other three to be the bee’s knees. Some Monkees Alumna hold fast to being a Davy girl, though, and I have to hand it to them for sticking to their guns, but it is rare. (Sorry, Davy.)
Now, that may seem like a very pompous theory. But, what can I say, I’m a Monkees Alumna. And we’re the best.
I was a relatively late Monkees-bloomer. The first episode I watched was during a marathon VH1 showed in the summer of 2000, which ended with the premier of VH1’s original movie based on the Monkees’ backstory. In fact, I was actually trying to avoid the marathon all day because I thought it would be boring and didn’t want someone else to come by and say, “Oh, The Monkees! Let’s watch that!” Oh, Rachel, how foolish you were. But eventually I did stop on VH1 because I couldn’t find anything else, and five minutes into the episode I was hooked. I was 14, young enough to be impressionable but old enough to figure out what I liked on my own. In fact, now that I think about it, The Monkees might be my first forage into discovering my own musical taste, outside the sphere of my parents or popular radio (both of which I still loved, though the latter slightly less so). It’s definitely the first show or band that I took the initiative to look up information about. I had already been teaching myself the ways of the interwebs by looking for sites on the movie Newsies, but that’s basically all I did before that.
Okay, now on to the holiday tie-in. The Christmas after I discovered the Monkees, still in 2000, my parents, my sister, one of my brothers, my aunt and I all flew to Arkansas to celebrate the holidays with my dad’s parents. To this day I consider it one of the best Christmases of my life. And the ironic thing about that is—for almost everyone else involved in that Christmas trip—it was their worst. A lot of things factored into the “this is the most stressful trip I’ve ever been on” aspect, including various personal reasons that I never even knew about until recently. Among the legendary crises that occurred, however, were the following: an ice storm, a week-long blackout caused by said ice storm, a car accident, an ill family member, and lost luggage on the flight home.
You might think I’m a little crazy for calling this infamous trip one of my favorite Christmas holidays. And, okay, maybe I am a bit crackers (I mean crazy), but that ice storm was actually one of the highlights. I’m rather fond of blackouts in general, but this one was epic. Plus it forced us all to come together and play board games and card games by candlelight, and cook in the fireplace or on the tiny camper stove. It also meant I got to go around playing my Monkees cds (which I had just gotten as a Christmas present) on my discman, whilst writing stories for hours on end, curled up on the couch next to a glowing candle. Those moments were so precious to me.
After the blackout was over, and I had internet access again, I was able to reconnect with my new acquaintances at a Monkees eGroup (now called Yahoo!group) I had recently joined in the hopes of finding other girls around my age who also loved those four charming lads. That Christmas was when I started some really important friendships, ones that are still going strong to this day.
In short, that Christmas (and New Year’s) was a defining time in my life. I was beginning to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be, in no small part due to The Monkees (and the fiercest Arkansas winter in the past 100 years).
So here is the soundtrack for having your very own Monkees-themed Christmas shindig, and I hope it gives you as much joy as it’s given me over the years:
By the way, these are mostly their lesser-known songs. Because, well, I like that kinda stuff. There’s also a whole bunch of quotes from the show dispersed throughout. I know it probably won’t mean much to you who haven’t seen it….but I couldn’t help myself. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear a random pun from Peter Tork?
1. Television Set – a quote from the episode Mijacogeo (The Frodis Caper).
2. Take a Giant Step
3. Cousin Clara – Monkees in Texas
4. Papa Gene’s Blues
5. To Tell a Fib – Captain Crocodile
6. Dogs are Nice – Monkees Get Out More Dirt
7. Gonna Buy Me A Dog
8. Latest Fashions – Monkees a La Mode
9. Sweet Young Thing
10. Not married yet – Monkee Mother
11. Mary, Mary
12. The Village – Monkees in Manhattan
13. Lady’s Baby
14. Always wins – It’s a Nice Place to Visit
15. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
16. Utter secrecy! – Monkees Chow Mein
17. You Just May Be the One
18. Coffee break – Monkee Mayor
19. She’ll Be There
20. Mike Nesmith – I Got a Little Song Here
21. The Girl I Knew Somewhere
22. The British are coming! – Monkees a La Mode
23. Wanna get us arrested? – Monkees a La Mode
24. Tear the Top Right Off My Head
25. Library Book – The Picture Frame
26. Mr. Webster
27. Ugly! – Alias Micky Dolenz
28. Through the Looking Glass
29. Booze! – It’s a Nice Place to Visit
30. Midnight Train
31. Paint – Art, For Monkees’ Sake
32. Randy Scouse Git
33. I said we sing – Monkees Chow Mein
34. Sunny Girlfriend (acoustic)
35. Starring the Monkees – Monkees in Manhattan
36. For Pete’s Sake
37. Commercial – Mijacogeo (The Frodis Caper)
1. Dumbest things – Monkees Marooned
2. All of Your Toys
3. Won’t you come in? – Monstrous Monkee Mash
4. Come On In
5. Stop hanging out with vampires – Monstrous Monkee Mash
6. Daily Nightly
7. Water – The Wild Monkees
8. Goin’ Down
9. Defected – Monkees Marooned
10. Auntie’s Municipal Court
11. Peter who? – It’s a Nice Place to Visit
12. Magnolia Simms
13. Micky and Mike who? – It’s a Nice Place to Visit
14. P.O. Box 9847
15. Shootin’ a movie! – The Picture Frame
16. Porpoise Song (this and the next three songs are from their movie Head, which is bizarre and amazing. Plus it happens to have some of their best music. And hilarious cameos by Frank Zappa, Victor Mature, Sonny Liston, Annette Funicello, Teri Garr, and Toni Basil)
17. Mutiny – Hitting the High Seas
18. As We Go Along
19. Ga-roovy! – Monstrous Monkee Mash
20. Can You Dig It?
21. Tripped – The Picture Frame
22. Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
23. Follow the birds – Fairy Tale
24. Just a Game
25. Stable boy – Monkees in Texas
26. Shorty Blackwell
27. Frank Zappa and Mike Nesmith switch places – Monkees Blow Their Minds
28. Listen to the Band
29. Fake it – Monkees Mind Their Manor
30. Mommy & Daddy (alternate)
31. Wizard Glick – Monkees on the Wheel [just a side note: Wizard Glick is played by Rip Taylor in two episodes, this one and Mijacogeo]
32. Calico Girlfriend Samba
33. Mr. Kretchlow – Monkees on Tour
34. Bye Bye Baby Bye Bye
35. Wife and kids – Hillbilly Honeymoon (Double Barrel Shotgun Wedding)
36. Never Tell a Woman Yes
37. Spell monkey with a y – Monkey’s Paw
38. Christmas sale – The Christmas Show
Maybe this insanely long post will make up for me skipping last week during finals. Until tomorrow, my loves–