When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be a fireman or an astronaut. Nope. I wanted to be a Monkee. I wanted to be in a band where we all live in the same house and have wacky adventures.
As it turned out, when I was in college, I was in a band called The Naughty Bits where we did all live in the same house for a while (except the drummer who was still in high school and should not have been allowed to play in the clubs we were in), although we never had many wacky adventures.
And while my musical tastes changed over the years, I still remembered fondly the Monkees, and come on, they had some great hits. Why not? They had some of the greatest songwriters of their time penning music for them: Carole King, Neil Diamond, Boyce and Hart, Neil Sedaka, David Gates … and Michael Nesmith.
I’ve since co-written two books about the Monkees and their music, and have seen them in concert a number of times. We saw Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith just a few months ago in their farewell tour. Mike looked very ill, but was determined to carry on, knowing this was his last chance. And Micky clearly loved the guy, looked after him, made sure he hit his cues, and, well, it was heartwarming and sad at the same time.
People don’t realize how much Mike influenced music, bringing country rock to the foreground with the Monkees, writing songs for Linda Ronstadt and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He pretty much created MTV with his show “Popclips,” later won the first Grammy for “best video,” starred in his own TV show “Elephant Parts,” and financed films like “Repo Man” and “Tapeheads.”
And he wrote songs.
So here’s a random list of ten of the songs he wrote for the Monkees and for his solo career that I think showcase his talent. These are not his greatest hits; they’re just some of my favorites.