Nostalgia, The Monkees and RIP Mike Nesmith

Nostalgia.

That was to be the theme of today’s post as it’s something many of us feel acutely at this time of year. When I started this retrospective music blog nearly six years ago, I hadn’t yet realised that writing about old Christmas songs can really pull at the heart strings. You remember happy Christmases with your family as a child, you remember happy Christmases with your friends as a young adult, and then happy Christmases with your own children when they came along. (Link to previous festive posts here.)

From this end of the conveyor belt of life it’s all a bit different – Many of the people in those memories are no longer with us and this year DD will be with her boyfriend’s parents on the big day, which seems only fair after having bagsied them for two years in a row because of last year’s sudden change in ‘the rules’. I am still hopeful we might have grandchildren some day, which would really perk things up around here, but of course a grandchild is not just for Christmas so I’ll have to be patient on that front.

But back to nostalgia, defined as, “the pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again”. Looking at various examples of its use in a sentence, nostalgia can be either a good thing or be somewhat crippling, as in reality we can’t go back in time. Best to just remember it all as it was and enjoy the memories.

It soon became apparent that my first musical memories were from 1966 when I was aged six. I was already aware of the Beatles, and of many of the singers who appeared on the prime time shows my parents watched, but when the Monkees television show (also called The Monkees) hit our screens that year, I was immediately smitten. Their scheduled slot in the UK was teatime on a Saturday, so perfect for family viewing. I was therefore saddened to hear of the death of Mike Nesmith last night before going to bed, the third Monkee to leave us.

(Theme From) The Monkees by the Monkees:


I have written about both Davy Jones and Peter Tork around here before, and now it’s going to be Mike Nesmith. Let’s hope it’s a while before Micky Dolenz puts in an appearance.

Anyone who remembers those days will know that Mike was the tall Monkee with the woolly hat and the Texan drawl (although at age six I wouldn’t have known what a drawl was). He was one of the older Monkees and was primarily a musician rather than an actor. The show ran for two seasons, between 1966 and 1968, and followed the adventures of four young men trying to make a name for themselves as a band. Ironically, because of the success of the show, they became one of the most popular bands of the 1960s, but got increasingly frustrated at the control exerted over them by the show’s creator. They were acting out their roles and were never expected to actually play their own instruments or write their own songs. In time that changed however and some of their own songs, many written by Mike Nesmith, proved to be the most popular of all.

Mike Nesmith 1942 – 2021

It sounds as if Mike hadn’t been well for some time but he had been well enough to head out on one last Farewell Tour which ended only last month. He was no longer the young man in the woolly hat, and had to stay seated for the first few shows of the tour, but made it through to the bitter end. A fitting conclusion perhaps to his life.

My favourite fun fact about Mike Nesmith is that his mother invented Liquid Paper (known to others perhaps as Tippex or correction fluid). She went from being a ‘single mom’ to being the owner of a multi-million dollar company. As someone who went through a lot of Liquid Paper working in offices over the years, I thank her for helping us keep our paperwork looking tidy. I’m guessing in these days of paperless offices, it is no longer needed.

Since starting this blog I’ve made a lot of new song discoveries and one of my favourites is Different Drum by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. It was written by Mike Nesmith back in 1964, long before his years with the Monkees so thank you Mike for that amazing song. Time to hear what it sounded like in your hands.

Different Drum by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I suppose it was inevitable that if I started to revisit the music of my youth, there was a fair chance many of the associated artists would already be no longer be with us, and many more tributes have been written around here over the last few years. The upside however is that you get a chance to revisit their back catalogue of songs and enjoy listening to them all over again. Keeping nostalgia in check is a tough ask at this time of year for those of us no longer in the first flush of youth, but there is definitely a pleasurable side to it too.

Until next time… RIP Mike Nesmith

Different Drum Lyrics
(Song by Mike Nesmith)

You and I travel to the beat of a diff’rent drum
Oh, can’t you tell by the way I run
Every time you make eyes at me Wo oh
You cry and you moan and say it will work out
But honey child I’ve got my doubts
You can’t see the forest for the trees

So, don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m knockin’
It’s just that I’m not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me
Yes, and I ain’t sayin’ you ain’t pretty
All I’m sayin’s I’m not ready for any person
Place or thing to try and pull the reins in on me
So Goodbye, I’ll be leavin’
I see no sense in the cryin’ and grievin’
We’ll both live a lot longer if you live without me

Oh, don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m knockin’
It’s just that I’m not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me
Yes, and I ain’t sayin’ you ain’t pretty
All I’m sayin’s I’m not ready for any person
Place or thing to try and pull the reins in on me
So Goodbye, I’ll be leavin’
I see no sense in the cryin’ and grievin’
We’ll both live a lot longer if you live without me

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

14 thoughts on “Nostalgia, The Monkees and RIP Mike Nesmith”

  1. I think Mike was my favourite Monkee. Although I may have said that about Davy Jones when he passed. Mike certainly had the best solo career.

    That definition of nostalgia was very on the nose. I tend to feel its comfort more than anything else though.

    I hope your Christmas will be a good one, despite the obvious absences.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Davy was definitely my favourite as a youngster, my first crush, then I said Peter was my favourite when he died. Now we have Mike and having just read up about him, he could now be my favourite. I felt bad not having covered his solo career at all, but would have got far too wordy.

      Nostalgia really hits me at this time of year – Enjoy your time with that little boy of yours. The school years will go by in a flash and you’ll miss them. Missing our Christmases with a youngster in the house.

      Having our second Christmas in a row affected by the pandemic is very wearing – Will this be the shape of things to come? If I had a DeLorean I’d go back 30 years in a flash, but like in the film, some spanner in the works might make it a different past to the one I remember. Best just to be comforted by nostalgia as you say and enjoy the memories.

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      1. Another sad loss
        We’re the old generation and we’ve got something to say could be our Bloggers mantra.
        I saw the Bluebells last night and they did a lovely version of Rio as a tribute.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ‘We’re the Old Generation and We’ve Got Something to Say’ – Spot on CC and long may it continue.

          Great you got to see the Bluebells last night – I have a story I must share about them sometime. Talking of Rio I should really include a clip of that great song from Mike’s solo years. One of the very first music videos too.

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  2. I was reading recently that over 400 actors/musicians responded to the Variety ad that announced the audition call for “The Monkees”.Among the ‘unsuccessful’ were Stephen Stills, Van Dyke Parks, Paul Williams and Danny Hutton (Three Dog Night).
    Not sure that different talent would have made much of a difference. The producers seemed to control the product

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems that of the 400+ respondents to that ad, it was only Mike Nesmith who was taken on. The rest were all found either beforehand (Davy Jones who was a bit of a Broadway star after his role as the Artful Dodger), or through other means. Watching the Laurel Canyon documentary I discovered that the reason Stephen Stills didn’t get the role was that he had a ‘snaggle tooth’ so he recommended his friend Peter Tork instead. Amazing that something as easily fixed nowadays as a funny-looking tooth meant you were ruled out of certain things back then – I now always look for that snaggle tooth on early Crosby, Stills and Nash footage and in the long-term I think it served him well that he didn’t become a Monkee.

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  3. Apologies for my absence around these parts lately – but a lovely post and fine tribute to Mike Nesmith with which to catch up. And thanks for keeping going!
    But another sad loss, it’s been one of those periods again with quite a few in quick succession (and which rather depressingly I guess is going to become more inevitable the longer we go on) – and weird to think that there is only one Monkee left now. ‘Different Drum’ is a great song and one of those where I only latched onto it as a cover version first (it was the Lemonheads for me).
    Nostalgia – I think your suggestion “Best to just remember it all as it was and enjoy the memories” is so wise. To look back on things with any sense of longing can bring such sadness, yet in many ways I find myself doing that for as short a time as two years ago – for obvious reasons! Mind you, I remember buying a badge when I was 13/14 (and very much into badges) which read (in bold black letters on red), ‘Nostalgia Is Dead’. It sounded right – punky and rebellious and thought-provoking – but the truth is that I didn’t actually know what ‘nostalgia’ was at the time. It just sounded like a good word, hmm.
    It’s such a shame you won’t have DD with you this Christmas but understandable that she’ll be with the other set of parents this year. Hopefully you’ll be able to make up for that soon afterwards too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No apologies needed – You know that! Yes, it’s kind of inevitable there will be a steady stream of tributes to be written if your musical memories are from the ’60s onward. 2016 was still the most shocking year in terms of the big names who went before their time but only one Monkee left now – Sad.

      I always get a bit sad at this time of year when I hear all those Christmas songs as you remember your childhood and most of the people from those days now gone, but there is the pleasurable side to nostalgia as well. I know what you mean about being nostalgic about 2 years ago – I planned on writing a similar post to the one I wrote around the time of my birthday but instead of 5 years of birthday blogging it was to be 5 years of Christmas blogging. After reading my posts from 2016 I had to abandon that idea as things have changed just so much in those 5 years and I got all nostalgic for those days. Back then Mr WIAA and I both still had jobs we enjoyed, my mum was living in her retirement flat, DD was living with us, our neighbours were all still here, my friend had her daughter and there had been no pandemic, no Brexit and no Boris. How things change but life I suppose and I’m now at the age when big changes can come along at breakneck speed.

      I too used to buy things that I thought were ‘cool’ because other people had them, but in reality didn’t really know what the words meant. Too embarrassing to mention here but just shows how easily led we were back then – I now cringe.

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    1. He seems to have been many people’s favourite Monkee. He certainly tried lots of new things over the following decades but that short period of being a Monkee is what he will probably be most remembered for. Wonder who will end up with the Tippex millions now! Love that his mum came up with that product.

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  4. I mentioned a few months back that my sister and I used to go round to my friend Caroline’s house to watch The Monkees, and we’d then spend the week until the next episode creating our own Monkees adventures. I always played Micky Dolenz, and my sister was Mike Nesmith. I’ve just come back from a lovely weekend with her in London, and we didn’t watch or listen to any news, so it was a shock to read of Mike Nesmith’s death in your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember that – I wonder how you got your roles. Height maybe or favourite character. Sadly another one gone now so only Micky left. Never a month goes by nowadays without someone from our childhood passing on but inevitable really.

      Glad you had a nice weekend in London – Looks as if there will be more restrictions soon so you got in there in time I think.

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