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This is Now : Nesmith Comments on Justus Reviews

March 31, 2011 by  
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From: Michael Nesmith
Subject: Justus
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 1996 05:16:53 -0600

Thanks for all the good words and support for Justus. Let me ask one
other thing of you all. When you see a bad word said about the album, if
it is mean spirited or stupid, if it is a shallow and unmerited
crtitcism, don’t leave it unchallenged. Send a letter and correct the
Bad reviews are part of the territory and don’t bother me and shouldn’t
bother anyone, but mindless digs and blanket indictments are usually
someone carrying on something they have heard or have been taught to
think. It is correctable with a swift, strong, intelligent response.
I can tell you from experience the effect of a letter or email directly
to a reviewer is tremendous.
Don’t forget to say thanks to the particularly good ones, especially the
ones that echo closely your own opinions.

The Monkees received a bad review in Entertainment Weekly and this is
the fax Nez sent them in response to it.

From: Michael Nesmith
Subject: Reply
Date: Tue, 15 Oct 1996 15:02:50 -0600

This is the letter I sent to David Browne at Entertainment Weekly.

October 15, 1996

David Browne
Entertainment Weekly
cc: John McAlley
Mitch Schneider
212 522 0559
818 380 0430

Dear Mr. Browne;

I read with dismay your benighted and shallow review of our new album
“Justus.” I read reviews in the hope, now faint, that critique is alive
somewhere in the literary and journalistic communities and I might learn
something. But, as your review so aptly demonstrates, this just isn’t so.

I am not sure why you chose to dwell so much on the number of times I and
my colleagues have been around the sun; maybe its because you have not been
around that many times yourself and have not had the chance to climb enough
learning curves to know the difference in meaning life takes on when one’s
perspective changes. If so, then not surprisingly you have missed several
important ideas contained in the album .

Your addled and misguided comment that in his song Never Enough “the 51
year old” Micky sings “with a straight face” that he “can’t fill your sweet
loving cup” goes directly to my point. Clearly the ‘loving cup’ you
perceive has to do with anatomy, but this is not the intention of the words
at all. The song is about divorce, not mating; it is about the crushing and
mind numbing pain of separation, not the adolescent consideration of sexual
stamina. The “loving cup” is the open, greedy, demanding hand, once loving
and supportive, now cruelly grabbing at the shards of a shattered love

“Admiral Mike” is not about “ad copy”; it’s about irresponsible journalism,
and mindless journalists.

“I Believe You” is neither cosmic nor jazzy. I’ll give you the word
“lounge” since in your hands it is clearly editorial and I have no idea
what lounges you haunt, but I suspect it is mis-applied here. The song is
about believing in something you know you shouldn’t, driven to such belief
through loving someone, and the terrible realization there is nothing else
to be done except believe, though it may come to a sorry end. Nothing too
cosmic about that, if you’ve experienced it. And if your comment about it
being “jazz” has to do with the extended chord structures then you know
nothing of jazz.

And by the way, what do you mean, or does anybody mean for that matter,
“play their own instruments”? Whose instruments do you suggest we play? Or
is this just a parroted phrase, whose garbled meaning only bothers serious

I’ll keep my eyes open for the review that understands the music as it was
intended and offers real and, I am hopeful, constructive comments on how it
may have been better.

Yours is not it. Instead, it seems to me, it’s half-witted journalism,
combined with poor writing skills and even less insight.

Hope this helps,

Michael Nesmith

BTW, you have my permission to publish this letter, in fact, I think you
should and hope you will, but you may not publish only a portion of it or
edit it in any way. This letter is copyright 1996, Michael Nesmith, and is
my sole and exclusive property.


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