Nostalgia, The Monkees and RIP Mike Nesmith


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

Flying Down To Rio, Ipanema and The Copacabana

Well, many apologies to anyone new to this blog as this post is not representative, but I just couldn’t let the massive event that is the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, commonly known as Rio 2016, pass by without a musical mention. So in one fell swoop I’m going to get all those songs out of my system and into the blog so that I can move on to other, more worthy contenders.

rio 2.png

The Opening Ceremony last Friday night was impressive indeed but of course nothing could have ever surpassed the joy I felt watching Danny Boyle’s “Isles of Wonder” Opening Ceremony at London 2012. But hey that was our Olympics, where we showed the world what we were all about and what with Mr Bean, James Bond, parachuting monarchs, Mary Poppins, Dancing NHS nurses and 50 years of music, I think we did that with bells on.

In terms of mood, Athens was apparently Classical, Beijing Grandiose, London Smart but Rio was going to be Cool. Well I don’t know about cool but it was definitely very green, in every sense of the word and also very sensual. We watched supermodel Giselle sashay (to walk in a slow and confident way that makes people notice you – tick) across the arena to the strains of Girl From Ipanema – Yes very sensual indeed. This song was about the only one I would have associated with Brazil, as the whole of South America, being non-English speaking, is still pretty much a mystery to me in terms of its music and film. The Girl From Ipanema was recorded by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz in 1964 and immediately became an international hit. It is a song I have always loved but it was not until last week that I came to understand that it was of a “bossa nova” persuasion. Brazil in the early ’60s developed a genre called “new wave” (bossa nova) but unlike in ’70s Britain, their genre didn’t involve safety pins, Johnny Rotten or agitated guitar playing, oh no, they combined samba with jazz to create a whole new sultry sound, the sound of Brazil.

Girl From Ipanema:

And so we come to my musical montage, and just to warn you this is not going to be pretty! The whole point of revisiting the “tracks of our years” is that they shouldn’t be carefully thought out so as to weed out all the slightly embarrassing stuff, it should just flow, and as some of my fellow bloggers know, some very dubious tracks can come out of the woodwork.

To kick things off I have a couple of very obvious contenders – Rio by Duran Duran and Gold by Spandau Ballet. Had I been a young teenager in 1983 I would have probably joined in the rivalry between their groups of fans, called Duranies and Fan-daus respectively, but I was too old for all that malarkey by then and was far too busy perming my bleached hair, visiting the sunbed and laundering my all-white clothing anyway. Yes Tony, those were my salad days!

Ok enough of all that but as Simon Le Bon sang, “Her name is Rio”, Dolores del Rio to be precise and if not for her, the magical pairing between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers might never have happened. If anyone asked me what my favourite three films were, I would have to include as one choice, the complete set of 1930s RKO musicals starring aforementioned Fred and Ginger. They first paired up in the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio and although Dolores del Rio was the main star along with Gene Raymond, it was Fred and Ginger who sparkled in that one and in no time at all they were the ones getting top billing.

dolores del rio.jpg

But enough of all that because also Flying down to Rio, this time in the 1970s, was that erstwhile Monkee Mike Nesmith who had by this time set up his own music video company (which explains a lot).

Of course having reached Rio you may want to head to the beach and what is the name of the beach again? Why it’s the Copacabana, and although Barry Manilow in 1978 wasn’t singing about the beach (he was singing about the New York nightclub), it is a story song with a very Latin vibe.


Just to be a bit different I won’t include Barry Manilow’s version but one from the television show Glee, which we used to watch with my daughter who was a bit of an afionado of musical theatre herself. The kids are having a bit of a meeting here and it could be called ELA (Easy-Listening Anonymous) where one by one they actually admit to loving the work of Barry Manilow. Anyone reading this blog will know that I myself would be a frequent attender of ELA if it existed, so glad to see that these cool kids are similarly afflicted.

And there we have it except that I want to include just two more clips, one simply as a reminder of just how differently we did things in London, and the other just because it feels right.

We don’t really do sultry samba combined with jazz in Britain, but we are very good at the old rock and pop, and the stand out performance for me was when The Arctic Monkeys got on stage at London 2012 to perform The Beatles’ Come Together. Loved those guys on bicycles, and what a great sound from Alex Turner and the boys. Summed the whole thing up for me really.

Although I just pointed out that we don’t really do sultry jazz in Britain, of course we very much did when the late Amy Winehouse was still with us and this is a great version of the “song of the moment” from her. Enjoy.

Back to business as usual for next time but phew, glad I’ve got it all out of my system. I will now just concentrate on the sport (albeit all happening during the night in the main) and I hear from hubby that Chris Froome has just won a medal, so well done him.

Girl From Ipanema Lyrics
(Song by Antônio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes/Norman Gimbel)

Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gently
That when she passes, each one she passes goes, “Aaah…”
Oh, but he watches so sadly –
How can he tell her he loves her?
Yes, he would give his heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead – not at he…
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, he smiles, but she doesn’t see…

Oh, but he sees her so sadly –
How can he tell her he loves her?
Yes, he would give his heart gladly,
But each day when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead – not at he…
Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, he smiles, but she doesn’t see…
She just doesn’t see…
No, she doesn’t see…
But she doesn’t see…
She doesn’t see…
No, she doesn’t see…

Davy Jones, The Monkees and “Daydream Believer”

Day two after news broke of the death of David Bowie (Jones) and the media still awash with tributes and commentaries about the icon.

Got me to thinking about that other David Jones who also died prematurely in his sixties – Davy Jones of The Monkees. My first big crush. Their television show (also called The Monkees) ran from 1966-68 and I was an avid viewer. Bright clothes, great pop songs, psychedelic sets and anarchic, slapstick behaviour – What not to like for a seven-year-old. Their scheduled slot was teatime on a Saturday night so perfect for family viewing.

davy jones

They very cunningly managed to highjack Neil Diamond’s best songs from that era and made them their own, no doubt contributing handsomely to Mr Diamond’s royalty cheques. My favourite was this one however from November 1967 and not a Neil Diamond song as it turns out – Daydream Believer. You only have to hear the first few notes on the piano to recognise what is about to come and boy are you in for a treat (starts at 0:20).

Daydream Believer by The Monkees:

Again, it makes me sad to think of those days nearly 50 years ago watching the impossibly cute Davy Jones leading the rest of the boys with his tamborine in hand. His diminutive size meant that he never really seemed to grow old and was a very handsome man right up until his death. After a spell of acting as a youth (Ena Sharples’ nephew in early Coronation Street) he became an apprentice jockey, but after taking up the role of the Artful Dodger in the West End, his show business path was set. He contined to have a lifelong love of horses however, and died aged just 66 after being out riding.

The Monkees never really did reunite properly although there were a few mini reunions over the years, the last being in 2011 to celebrate their 45th anniversary. The main reason was that they could never get Mike Nesmith on-board. His mother had invented and patented correction fluid, “Tippex”, so he inadvertently became a Tippex millionaire who didn’t really need the money and preferred to concentrate on his own projects – Very Rock ‘n’ Roll!

So from one David Jones (a Londoner turned Berliner turned New Yorker) to another David Jones (a Mancunian turned Angeleno turned Floridian) in two blogs. And both dead by the age of 70 – Far, far too young.


Daydream Believer Lyrics
(Song by John Stewart)

Oh, I could hide ‘neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings
The six o’clock alarm would never ring
But it rings and I rise
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes
The shavin’ razor’s cold and it stings

Cheer up, sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen

You once thought of me
As a white knight on a steed
Now you know how happy I can be
Oh, and our good times start and end
Without dollar one to spend
But how much, baby, do we really need