Friday, December 10, 2021

Mike Nesmith

My first teenage crush was the Monkees. But it was an odd crush ~ I claimed the group as my "friends".  At eleven my world was upended when my parents up and moved us to a new town in a new state. I was at that awkward age, and being painfully shy didn't help matters. Barely anyone in my new class talked to me, and I sure wasn't about to initiate a conversation. Thus, the highlight of my life was alighting the bus on a Monday afternoon, tromping up to our cramped apartment, and waiting 'til seven o'clock, when The Monkees TV show came on.

I had a study hall period in the middle of each day, a cavernous hollow room on the second floor of my turn of the century school. It held approximately one hundred desks, with the study hall teacher perched at his own desk high up on a stage in the front. I don't know what any of the other kids did (I suspect "studying" wasn't one of those things), but as for me, I whipped out a spiral notebook and my multi-color pens and wrote letters to each individual Monkee. I think Mickey got the green pen, Davy the red, Peter was assigned the blue, and Mike the purple. Of course I didn't actually mail any of the "letters" (duh); in hindsight I think they were a way for me to spill my guts and my loneliness. I took them very seriously.

I didn't even particularly like the TV show, except for the songs. But these guys were my friends, so I sat through a half hour of silliness in solidarity.

Most girls favored Davy Jones, but Mickey Dolenz was my favorite. Peter Tork was just a goofy guy who sometimes plinked the piano. Mike was a puzzle. He never got to sing lead on any of the hits. He just stood there strumming his guitar, wearing his green knit hat, but he seemed happy enough to be doing what he was doing. 

I read later that Mike didn't like being part of The Monkees, that the formulaic tunes picked for the group cramped his style. This turned out to be a myth.

“Quite the contrary,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “It was a nice part of the résumé. It was a fun for me, and a great time of my life..." (source)

Nesmith's roots were apparently in country rock, but to be honest, after the group broke up I didn't follow his career. I do know that Linda Ronstadt grabbed this Mike-penned song after the Monkees' producers nixed it for the group:

The last performance of the two remaining Monkees:

Mike Nesmith passed away December 10. Davy is gone, Peter is gone; now only Mickey remains.

Rest in peace, old friend.

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