Share Your Monkees Memories! New Monkees.net Feature: My Favorite Monkees Memories With Super Fan, Joyce MacPhee
by M.A. Cassata
With reporting by Joanne Grana
Do you have a favorite Monkees memory or two (thousand)? We know you do by the amount of comments and emails we receive here every month at Monkees.net. So we thought it was time to create a really cool new feature…”My Favorite Monkees Memories.”
So, now all you dyed–in-the-wool (hat) Monkees fans can email me for future consideration at Macwriter1@aol.com If you are accepted, we ask that you provide us with a few personal pics including what’s in your collection or you with any of the guys themselves.
Super Monkees fan from Canada, Joyce MacPhee contacted us when she heard we were creating this new feature. Read on and let is know what you think or if you have a few favorite Monkees memories worth sharing with other fans.
Why are you a big Monkees fan?
How could I be anything but a big Monkees fan? When it comes to the Monkees, it is either go big or go home! I was born in the Year of the Monkey in Chinese astrology. So I guess I was born a Monkees fan.
How old were you when you discovered The Monkees for the first time?
In 1966 I was a ten-year-old girl who enthusiastically tuned in to the Monkees weekly television show with my family members. I was in the demographics that the show’s creators were trying to reach and the show hit home with me instantly. The Monkees were a band of four adorable guys trying to make it in the music biz and were having a lot of hijinks along the way. I really connected with the humor and their music, even if I didn’t fully understand all the lyrics or references in the scripts, especially American references.
What was your favorite part of the show?
My favorite part of the show was to hear them sing actually! I loved their voices, especially Micky’s. It was very expressive and emotive and above all accessible interpretations of well-crafted pop music.
The songs on the first two albums that were released during the two years that the show ran, were instantly recognizable, hummable, singable, danceable, innocent and fun. The combination of top writers and musicians, undeniable charm and vocal contributions of the four members combined for a magical, musical package more accessible to a preteen than Magical Mystery Tour. Never mind that some older kids didn’t like them and that my parents didn’t understand them. That just made the Monkees seem all the more appealing.
Were you still a strong fan after the show ended?
While I didn’t follow their careers closely after the show ended, I was always happy to hear the music of the Monkees individually or collectively wherever I encountered it. And I admired them for taking more charge of their careers, playing their own instruments and singing some rebellious songs.
I am grateful for the music of the Monkees. Listening to the music today reminds me of how irrepressibly happy I was watching the show, listening to the albums and singing along, and excitedly talking about them with my friends. I found it fascinating that my friends had different favorite Monkees than me. But I didn’t judge!
Did you have a favorite Monkee?
I must admit my favorite Monkee was always Micky. I had loved watching reruns of Micky as Circus Boy years before the start of the Monkees show so was already won over. He was so cute and funny, and had a gorgeous voice with an expressive delivery. What was there not to adore? He was the lead vocalist on so many of my favorite Monkees tunes and a great presenter!
How long have you been a Monkees fan?
I have been a Monkees fan for 50 years! I was ten years old when I first started watching the show, and there was no turning back. I was lucky enough to attend both the twentieth and fiftieth anniversary concerts here in Ottawa. My Monkees LPs are cherished possessions. With the wealth of books, documentaries and archival material out there about the Monkees, I can look forward to many more years of happy fandom!
Did you have a favorite Monkees period and why?
I would have to say the years that the TV show were on were my favorite Monkees period. They were an important part of my preteen life. I watched the show faithfully. My older brothers bought the first two albums so I could also play the albums, and sing and dance along both at home and at my girlfriend’s house. Listening to their music was enthralling and participatory. And there were also quiet periods of absolute adoration for my favorite Monkee, Micky!
This period was extended in a way because I would bring the albums to my friend’s house for some time after the show had ended. We would pretend to be go-go dancers as I recall, although I didn’t have go-go boots. I had the spirit though and belted out the tunes with greater enthusiasm than tunefulness I am afraid.
Sounds like Micky in some ways was a hero to you.
Heroes are an important part of a young person’s life. And Micky was a hero to me, explaining life and love through the eminently appealable music of the Monkees. Luckily he never let me down. I was always happy to hear Monkees music after the show ended and through the years, and it has an unparalleled place in my heart.
How many times have you seen the Monkees in concert?
I have seen the Monkees twice in concert. I was lucky enough to see them at the Congress Centre in Ottawa as part of their 20th anniversary tour and then at Ottawa Bluesfest as part of their 50th anniversary concert tour. As far as I know these are the only times they performed here, or I would have seen them more! I remember that the 20th anniversary concert was just plain fun. However the 50th anniversary concert was more moving and profound, partly because it seemed miraculous and partly because of Davy’s passing away.
What are some of your best Monkees concert moments and why?
Hearing the opening strains of “Last Train to Clarksville” at the start of the 50th anniversary concert was a joyous occasion! I was so happy that by some miracle Micky’s voice sounded exactly the same as it did on the albums half a century before.
It really blew my mind to see Micky later don a psychedelic poncho and play kettle drums during the song “Randy Scouse Git” while a vintage video of him wearing a similar poncho and playing similar drums played in the background. That was incredible.
Seeing Peter, too— the ultimate Monkees survivor, up on stage showing his musical prowess on several instruments and hamming it up, was great. All the more moving as I had learned that he had struggled with addiction and been sober for 37 years and had also survived two bouts of cancer.
Just being able to sing along with the Monkees in concert along with many others in the audience was an ecstatic experience. I was transported to seventh heaven!
Of course it was a three-hanky occasion when Micky put his arm around Peter for solace when they played one of Davy’s signature tunes, “Daydream Believer,” in tribute to him.
Although I have never seen Mike in concert it was great that Micky and Peter played some of the songs he had written such as “Girl that I Knew Somewhere” and also mentioned him.
What is your favorite memorabilia?
My favorite Monkees memorabilia are the first two vinyl records. When I downsized my vinyl record collection from hundreds of LPs to about thirty, the Monkees albums were ones I could simply not part with. Although I can no longer play these albums, as I don’t have a turntable, it is a great comfort to have them! They bring memories of simpler days so long ago, of listening, sighing, singing along with gusto, and “go-go” dancing in basement rec rooms. Big fun! These albums represent innocence, irrepressible joy and discovering meaning in art.
Were you fortunate enough to meet any of The Monkees?
I have not had the pleasure of meeting the Monkees but maybe someday! I probably would not be able to get two words out! So I hold these albums that I have carted around with me through innumerable moves in the past decades, very dear to my heart.
What are a few of your favorite Monkees songs and why?
“Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” is forever etched into my memories. It is a profound reminder to me to stay optimistic. I have a vivid memory of being at the local creek and hearing someone yell out the title of the song, although I could not see them. This beautiful memory has stayed with me all my life.
I also loved “Last Train to Clarksville” because it is catchy, poppy and showcases Micky’s voice well. I may not have understood that Clarksville was near a military base during the Vietnam War but even as a ten year old I could understand the longing and fear expressed in that song.
“Saturday’s Child” is a favorite because I love both the lyrics and the tune. “Steppin’ Stone” always energized me and set my toes to tapping; it is a great classic pop tune.
“She” was just a great expressive song and it was always cool to hear the part where Micky sighs. Of course I would sigh right along with him!
Us too! Do you remember the first time you heard the Monkees on the radio or saw them on television? What did you think?
I cannot remember the first time to tell you the truth. But I am sure that I first saw them on television, which is the same way I discovered the Beatles a few years before (on Ed Sullivan) come to think of it. While the Beatles were exciting to see, they were also perplexing, what with all the screaming and hysteria. The Monkees entered our consciousness effortlessly through both visual images and music. How groovy is that?
What other TV shows did you watch as a child?
Childhood television to me was Star Trek, Lost in Space, I Dream of Jeannie, Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched and Bonanza but best of all the Monkees. Interesting that Mike Nesmith came up with the idea for MTV! The Monkees helped to pave the way for MTV first though.
Anything more that you want to add?
I think that The Monkees are an incredible phenomenon in North American popular culture and spanned several media. I know that my life was enhanced by their music and that their music was part of my early education in the arts. I am sure that the exposure to such excellent songwriting and performance to me at such a young age helped open me up to appreciating the arts. The music of The Monkees was written by incredible songwriters and had artistic merit. It was well presented and was a lot of fun too!
I would love to have a t-shirt that reads “Everything I Needed to Learn, I Learned from The Monkees!”
We hear ya!