Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RIP, Davy Jones: It's All About the Music

The news of Davy Jones’s passing has had more of an impact on me than I would have expected. I mean, it’s not something I ever gave any thought to. But, if you would have asked me, “How would you feel if Davy Jones suddenly died”, I would probably give a detached answer like, "Oh, that'd be sad".

But I’m more than mildly sad.

I was born after The Monkees' heyday, but I remember watching reruns of their TV programs every single day every summer on Nickelodeon. Even as a kid I recognized the silliness of their comedy, but I loved their music.

As I got older, I heard all the hullabaloo about them not being a “real band” since they were assembled by guys in suits specifically for the purpose of creating a successful TV show. But I thought they were a great pop band. And I still loved their music.

He was the first person I ever remember my mom saying she had a crush on when she was younger. I learned he was a big heartthrob, saw him in a guest slot on a Brady Bunch rerun that exploited the crush factor. That crush factor is often fuel for haters, and probably was part of the reason for some of the negative fuss about The Monkees. But that stuff doesn't have anything to do with the music.

I remember hearing about the “mismatched” tour where Jimi Hendrix had been invited to open for them. Every reference to the event talked about what a train wreck of an idea it was to pair the two. My musical tastes are certainly not what you’d call “mainstream”, but I don’t think it would have been that bad of a mismatch. The two musical styles are definitely different, and you might have to tweak the order and presentation a bit. But I think it could have worked. But, of course, I love both of their music.

As my love of music deepened and my tastes developed, I didn’t listen to The Monkees much. I’d enjoy when I heard them on the radio and still remembered all of their songs, but I didn’t own anything or seek it out. Still, I loved what music of theirs I did hear.

A few years back, I was at a Social Distortion concert, my all-time favorite band. They had added an extra member to the band who played accordion and piano/organ. As Social D came back out for an encore the piano player started a lengthy intro to a song. It sounded familiar, but I didn’t recognize it instantly. Then I caught on. I was certain it was Daydream Believer by The Monkees. Social Distortion always incorporates a lot of cover songs into their repertoire, but this seemed a stretch. They usually got for old country covers by the likes of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams or punk classics by The Clash. Even thought it was a stretch…it fit. It worked. With Social D, I love their music, you see…so they can make an awful lot work.

But, alas, it wasn’t Daydream Believer. It was their own classic song Prison Bound, with a new, lengthier intro. I’m no musician, but it must have been in the same key or had the same chord progression or something.

I told my wife, who was there with me, after the show that I thought it was Daydream Believer and she immediately said, “That would have been a GREAT cover for them!”

I’ve interviewed Mike Ness, leader of Social Distortion, a few times, but not since that night. Next time I talk to him, I’m gonna try to work up the nerve to suggest that as a cover for them. Hopefully he’ll see it, too.

This article is a remembrance of Davy Jones, not an essay on Social Distortion. But that event has always stuck out to me for one reason: It reminded me that I loved the music of The Monkees.

So I started listening again. Not just to the hits I was familiar with, but their full albums. Songs like “Salesman” and “You Just Might Be the One” stood out, and still do. I share those deeper album cuts on my Dirty Roots Radio Show once in a while. Because I still love their music.

And that’s what Davy Jones leaves behind. He passed too young, at 66. And while there will always be the controversy of whether or not they were a “real band”, there is the music. The great music that we love.

Thanks for the music, Davy Jones.


Ryan Mifflin is the host of Dirty Roots Radio, a "Quentin Tarantino-ization of a spaghetti western style old-school record show" featuring renegade country, vintage gospel, raw blues, greasy soul, punk, and funk. Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) on WGRN 89.5 FM. Listen online from anywhere in the world at



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