I won’t want to be mean about somebody who’s just died, especially in the case of Davy Jones, who seems to have gathered so much affection during his 66 years that attacking him would feel a bit like giving Orville the Duck a damned good kicking after an all-day drinking session.
So I'm not going to be. I loved watching The Monkees as a kid, and listening to the likes of Daydream Believer brings the sort of smile to my face even nowadays that few things do (most of those being other blissful childhood memories).
No, if any offence is intended by the headline above, it’s aimed squarely at those who have seized upon his sad passing to wallow endlessly in his legacy acting as though they’d spent the past few decades as head of his official fan club.
Many are so devout in their idolatry that it’s a wonder that they haven’t been rubbing shoulders with chuggers out in the cold winter Scottish high streets, harassing innocent shoppers by offering – for free! – to swap any albums scooped up from Fopp or HMV for The Monkees, More of The Monkees, or perhaps even Head (if they’re the particularly intense, bug-eyed type).
Not that it really needs repeating, but for the benefit of younger readers The Monkees were a manufactured group created by TV producers in the 60s. Their songs were written for them and session musicians were involved in the recording of their tracks.
Later on in their short existence they attempted to wrestle some more artistic control for themselves which resulted in diminished album sales and the split which occurred five years after their first appearance.
In an ideal society – where Big Brother reigned supreme to guide us all benevolently in the right path – a note would be taken of all the names of those who have expressed their grief over the death of Davy Jones, or posted a Monkees track on a social networking site over the past few days, or got involved in a fearsome debate over which was their favourite member of the group.
Then, whenever any of these (potentially) crotchety old fools takes to a public forum to express their disgust at Justin Bieber topping the charts (Jones’ voice wasn’t that much less nasal), or the Sugababes having none of their original members left, or Lana Del Ray not being Lana Del Ray’s real name, at some secret government location a giant red light will flash and an ominous air raid siren will blast into operation.
Within 45 minutes the guilty party will have been apprehended, and – in full view of others so as to act as a warning – their mouths will be permanently taped shut and boxing gloves super-glued onto their hands so they can no longer embarrass themselves (and anyone else associated with them) quite so much. I’d predict that within a year the level of intellectual debate in society would improve so significantly that the cast of The Only Way is Essex would have IQs that would put Stephen Fry to shame.
It happens every time the music charts shed their skin and fresh-faced, chubby-cheeked young urchins sit newly atop the pop throne. Girls Aloud, Justin Timberlake (and N Sync), Take That, George Michael, Madonna, A-Ha... Without fail, droves will start piping up about how it’s all gone to the dogs, how things aren’t as they used to be, how whatever single they think can’t be beaten won’t ever be beaten, blah-de-blah-de-blah.
It’s basically just a peeing contest: “my childhood was better than your childhood, so therefore I don’t need to feel too miserable now that it’s gone forever”. And an utterly stupid one, as memories are fallible – I can barely remember any details of what I did last week (even when sober pretty much the entire time), so to expect recollections of a couple of decades back to bear much relation to any ‘objective reality’ is complete tosh.
This crowing by the older generation might be just about acceptable if some of the abuse hurled in the direction of Justin Bieber and co wasn’t quite so horrific. Given the ages of some of those in the firing line, such as 14-year-old Rebecca Black or Bieber a few years back, the treatment being meted out over Twitter and via other online outlets is quite literally child abuse. (And on that score let’s not dredge up that horrifically ill judged ‘sticks and stones’ rhyme, as though current understanding of the effects of bullying is negated by reciting it.)
For goodness’ sake, just look at Bieber and Jones side by side, or compare their voices – there really isn’t that much difference between the pair, when you get to the root of it. In a few decades there will be millions around the world rhapsodising about the first blissful time they heard Bieber and humorously recounting when he went off the rails and recorded a disastrous Dubstep concept album about the first Chronicles of Narnia film.
So instead of further alienating them, why not understand the cyclical nature of the pop industry, then gather your nearest and dearest young ones together and introduce them to the delights of The Monkees – perhaps even letting them play you a Bieber track or two in return.
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