Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good-bye, Daydream Believer

I didn't buy this issue of Tiger Beat but I'm sure I stared at it in the grocery store.
One of my co-workers Skyped me this morning to tell me she was sick and wouldn't be coming in to the office.

"It may be a bug or it may have just been too much Davy Jones," she said of her queasy digestive tract.

It does seem as if a disproportionate amount of media attention has been focused on the (albeit somewhat premature) death of a '70s pop star. I'll admit it, though: At the moment I heard of my favorite Monkee's death it was suddenly 1967 and I was celebrating my 13th birthday with a slumber party at The Farm. Just that week the finishing touches had been put on an addition to the old farmhouse, and Much Older Sister and I had moved into a bedroom that seemed roomy beyond belief after so many years with a family of seven squeezed into a two-bedroom house. I had opened my presents--a Ouija board, an autograph puppy, and a copy of the Monkees' newest hit, released just two weeks before.

The 45 rpm record went onto the turntable, and for the next several hours we heard "Daydream Believer" over and over as we giggled, squealed, and pushed the platen around the Ouija board.

"Cheer up, Sleepy Jean! Oh, what can it mean..."

To a 13-year-old girl, Davy Jones was the perfect guy. He was the funny, sweet Monkee, hip but unthreatening. He was a safe version of the Beatles, a less dark Rolling Stone. We weren't the kind of girls who got mushy over teen stars but, oh, he was so cute. So British. Never mind that most of us came from tall Midwestern stock, and that at almost 5'8", I already was four inches taller than his 5'4".

As the years went by, of course, the appeal of Davy Jones waned. My friends and I moved on to follow edgier music and grittier stars. Kris Kristofferson. Carlos Santana. Crosy, Stills, Nash, and Young. The Monkees singles were packed away with the autograph puppy and Ouija board, too childish for our new sophisticated selves.

But yesterday's news coverage was all about 66-year-old Davy Jones and his sudden death after a heart attack. If the stories and interviews are any indication, he managed to keep his sense of humor and good spirits, in spite of the rough days he must have experienced as someone whose fame had peaked four decades earlier.

Well done, Davy Jones. I can only hope the 13-year-old me is aging as gracefully.

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