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Tuesday, November 8, 2016


With the long, horrible, tortuous and torturous election season we have all been suffering through, little glimmers of light have been welcome relief. Things like the vacation Willie and I took, (I'll write about that in another post.) The Cubs in the World Series was a second glimmer. I'm not going to pretend I'm a huge Cubs fan, I'm not even a baseball, or sports fan in general. The Cubs in the series though, that was a great distraction from the 584 days of political commercials and campaign horridness. You read that right, here in Iowa, the commercials started April 4, 2015. FIVE HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR DAYS!!

Watching Cubs fans post their happy, excited posts made me happy for them. Seeing Bob Newhart posing on Facebook with a W flag after every win, that's what got me the most excited for the Cubs. Not him in particular, but the idea that people his age have been waiting their entire life to see the Cubs as world champions, through thick and thin. This made me happy they won. I figure, I wasn't the only "not really a Cub fan" very happy when they pulled it out in the tenth of game seven. What a great relief from the campaign insanity.

My third great light in the tunnel happened this last weekend. I got in my car Friday, a beautiful sunny warm day. The weather was what you'd expect at the end of September, not on November 4. I left from my son's house and hit the road for a weekend of fun and music with my great friend Dawn. On my way down I stopped in Pella to buy a box of wonderful. A box of the most delicious pastry ever to be created on earth. A box of a dozen Dutch letters. The idea was to bring them down to Dawn. She loves them, too. Most of them did make it, but it is a long drive to St. Charles.

I got there around 9:30 and Dawn and I talked until the wee hours of the morning, as we usually do. I went down stairs to go to bed about 2:30 am, and slept until I think 11:00 am. The guest room at Dawn's is beautiful, but has no windows, so is devoid of natural light. It gets very, very dark. That makes it very easy to sleep and sleep and sleep without realizing how late it is. I hadn't set an alarm, so there was nothing to wake me up. It was wonderful!

Dawn and I waned away the afternoon chatting some more. Until it was time! We were going to the Monkees concert!!! I had missed their last several concert tours. Most sadly, I missed the tour in 2011 while Davy Jones was still alive. It was his last time performing with his Monkee brothers, I wish I had gone. When the Monkees went on their tribute tour for David, with Mike Nesmith, they didn't come to eastern Iowa, and at that time I was very busy taking care of my ailing father to be able to go anywhere very far away. Now, Mike has decided his Monkees days have come to an end as well. I never ever got to see him live with the band, and now I never will.

Me and Magdalena
(please excuse the quality of the photos. All I had was my phone to take pictures. )
The three surviving Monkees, including Mike, made a new album for the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Monkees. For 50 years these men having been entertaining people, since 1966, can you imagine? The album, entitled Good Times, is wonderful. Each of the guys wrote some songs, they had some songs written by others, and yes, they played their own instruments and yes they had a back up band as well. It also has a song they found in archives with David singing lead, and included that. All of the Monkees were represented.

Other groups, over the years, have replaced missing members, whether they quit or passed, they were replaced. Some groups have done this so often, there may not be an original member in the group anymore. The group may have the same name, but a true fan would not even recognize the group any more. Not the Monkees. In the 1980's the group had a resurgence thanks to MTV airing the reruns of their show, (for you young's, that may not know any better, MTV used to be about music. That's what the M stands for.) Mike had no desire to go on tour as a Monkee. When he didn't join the tour, the others did not try to replace him, nor try to deny his existence. His songs were sung, his face on jumbotrons romping around in clips from the show. When Davy passed suddenly in 2012, again, the guys never even thought of trying to replace him, and thus he was included on the new album. Like brothers, the quartet had their squabbles, but like brothers they had an unbreakable bond.

For Pete's Sake
The new album is fresh, it is fun and it is the best of the Monkees. It is what you expect when you buy a Monkees album. It has a mix of styles, something that has always been true of the group. They have always played a wide range of music. From rock and roll of Randy Scouse Git, to country sounding Papa Gene's Blues, to the vaudevillian Cuddly Toy, this group has always been eclectic. Good Times continues this tradition. The ballad sung by Mike and harmonized by Micky, Me and Magdalena, is as beautiful a ballad as I have ever heard. The title song, Good Times is fun, bouncy, sixties sounding yet contemporary at the same time. Micky pokes fun at himself in I Was There (and I'm Told I Had a Good Time) and Peter brings his own twist to Little Girl and Wasn't Born to Follow. I couldn't wait to hear some of the songs in concert.
Daydream Believer 

Dawn and I decided to go out to dinner before the concert. She told me what restaurants were close to the concert venue, one place had Brazilian food. I'd never had Brazilian food, (or at least that I know of) and thought that sounded like fun. We got to the restaurant, were seated and went up to the huge salad bar. I glance over at the bar, and there sitting alone was a man in a hat. I looked closer, it was Micky Dolenz!! Poked Dawn, "I think that's Micky Dolenz," I gestured toward the bar.

"It is," she said, "If you want an autograph, now's the time." I was the real Monkeemaniac of the two of us.

I'm not really an autograph seeker, and being "Iowa Nice" and having aversions to being rude, I said, "I don't want to bother him while he's eating." I looked back over, and he didn't have food in front of him.

"Don't you think he'd be thrilled someone recognized him?" Dawn asked.

"I don't know, he probably has people bug him all the time," more 'Iowa Nice.'

I saw that the bar tender hand him his bill, and he started to sign it. "I'm just going to go thank him for his music." I said, and with empty salad plate in hand, for some reason I brought it with me, I approached Micky Dolenz. "Excuse me," I uttered.

"Yes," he said as he turned toward me.

"I just want to say thank you for your music," I smiled, and was oddly not nervous at all. Usually, in any situation meeting someone new, I am nervous and shaking like a leaf, I'm rather introverted and uncomfortable in new situations.

He held out his hand to shake mine, "Well, thank you he said."

I shook his hand and thanked him. "Are you going to the show tonight?" he asked.

"Yes, I am," I said proudly.

"Great!" He said and was on his way.

I turned around to Dawn, and it hit me, I just shook hands with MICKY DOLENZ! I don't think I stopped smiling the rest of the night. Yet, when I went over to Dawn, the first thing out of my mouth was, "I thought he'd be taller." I'm pretty tall and he was a bit shorter than me, but not much.  Now, WHY that was the first thing to come out of my mouth I had no idea.  Then I thought, wow, Davy must have been TINY! I just meant one of my favorite singers EVER... and my first words about it was, "I thought he's be taller?" REALLY?!? At least I didn't say it to him.
Micky on drums
We got to the concert and it was everything I had hoped for. These guys were around way before autotune so what you hear is what you get. The voice on the album is the voice at the concert. There is no disappointing, "what the hell is that voice coming out of my favorite singer?" They are just as good in person as on albums.

Peter's voice has changed a bit since his bout with throat cancer, but his ability to carry a tune has not.  His performance is still energetic, bouncy and quirky. he has a bit of a lisp, probably from dentures, but it works perfectly with his style and personality. His voice may be a bit higher, from the cancer, but it was just as awesome! Peter Tork was my first love as a little kid watching Monkees reruns on Saturday morning, and that will never change.
Randy Scouse Git
Micky's voice and performance, now I never got to see them in their younger years, has improved, if that is even possible. The maturity in his voice has made it fuller and even more versatile. He can go from a soft harmony to a full deep voice in a split second. His voice has always been unique, one of the very best in music, and now it is even better. Is it because as he gets older he isn't worried about impressing but just enjoying the music? Oh, how I wish I could have asked him that. (As well as, would he ever want to take on a 53 year old apprentice in his wood shop. He is a master crafter with wood and I would love to learn. I love working with wood, but have no idea what I'm doing.)

About half way though the concert, there was a short intermission. I was a little surprised by that, but not bothered because they kept us entertained with show clips and music. Then it occurred to me, these are men in their seventies, SEVENTIES! Something you completely forget while watching them. They probably needed to pee. As I looked around the venue, I realized, most of the people around me were also in that baby boomer generation. A generation Dawn and I were born at the very end of. Most of the audience probably needed to pee, too. The intermission was a darn good idea! 

Davy was also well represented during the concert. They used TV clips of him singing Shades of Gray, with Peter, still so very relevant today, this election day. And of course, HIS song, Davy's song, Daydream Believer. Micky and Peter both knew that his song had to be a part of any concert, but that neither of them could every get through singing it. So, they gave it to us, the fans. They played the clip of him singing it in the show as they sang along and encourage the audience to join them. Which we did. There is truly no better way to include Davy in the show, and no other way to include Daydream Believer. As you may remember at the end of the song in the TV show, Davy is shown walking away from the camera during the last bit of the song. That, THAT was just so emotional to watch. It just seemed like a way to say one last goodbye and know he was in a better place.

The show ended on the most upbeat of songs. Micky looked around the audience, found a few youngsters and told them something. "This next song, it didn't start with Shrek. We sang it FIRST!!" 

Mike, Davy, Micky and Peter made believers out of us 50 years ago, and Peter and Micky, are keeping us believers today.