We are here, and we’re gonna have a good time

Unless you follow me or Mike Nesmith on social media, you probably didn’t know there was a new Monkees album out (after all, they’re almost 75 years old and only 3/4 of the original band remains). But I’m here to tell you that it dropped on Friday and it is ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD.

The album is called —wait for it—Good Times!, and as much as I wish the name was a little more…inventive, I must admit it effectively embraces the cheerful, shameless nostalgia that is the Monkees. At least it’s a better idea than Pool It! (fun fact: I have a signed copy of Pool It!, which I’m pretty sure my dad is going to donate if I don’t take it with me next time I visit).

So anyway, on Friday I donned my Nez hat and went by myself to a Monkees listening party at Amoeba Records, to celebrate the release of the new album while browsing record stacks.

The “party” was pretty subdued, mostly boomers and a couple of very nice Amoeba employees, so I kept my intense fangirling to myself. But it was so fun to hear new Monkees music voice blasting over the speakers while record browsing. Not to mention, I got so much free swag!

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Can’t wait to get started on that coloring book 👍

There were also cupcakes and cookies, so all in all it was probably the best possible way to spend my Friday evening.

Some album highlights, in case you’re interested:

“Me & Magdalena” is straight-up beautiful. It was released a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening to it wayyyy more than a normal person should. The song was written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab/Postal Service fame (a whole other kind of nostalgia), and is probably the best ballad the Monkees have ever done. Go listen to it.

“Wasn’t Born To Follow” – I first heard this song on the Easy Rider soundtrack and since then it’s always been a favorite (I only recently heard Carole King’s version, even though she was the one who wrote the song!). I was so pleasantly surprised to hear Peter’s lovely, un-countrified rendition…honestly I think he sounds better than ever?!

No Monkees album would be complete without the voice of Davy Jones, and I’m so glad they chose to include “Love to Love.” It’s a Neil Diamond tune originally recorded in 1967, and really tops off the whole 60s throwback vibe. Hearing this song only made me sad that there was no more Davy on the album. Micky probably sang the most original hits, but in so many ways, Davy was the voice and face of the Monkees. MISS U, MANCHESTER COWBOY.

This is really difficult for me, but my ONE skip track is Nez’s original song “I Know What I Know” (I’m sorry, Mike!!). I’ve always been a bigger fan of his more upbeat, weird country stuff, so this one didn’t really do it for me.

“I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time)” – I’m mostly just impressed at how many Beatlesque sounds they managed to fit into a 2-minute song. Did you know this song was co-written by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne, who also happened to produce the entire album? Other songwriting credits for Good Times! go to Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Rivers Cuomo, and Andy Partridge. Also, the title track features Micky doing a duet with Harry Nilsson, so that’s pretty cool. 

The bottom line: this new album isn’t trying to be hip or modern or anything else but a solid collection of 60s-inspired pop songs (several of them were in fact written in the 60s) and I mean, it just works so well. I love the fact that it’s a collaboration with hit songwriters from both the past and present, and that the guys seemed to have had a blast recording it. Personally, I had a blast listening to it, and still can’t get the songs out of my head.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go live vicariously through my Monkees DVDs while wishing I was born 40 years earlier…

Real life is for March

According to 30 Rock, nothing that happens on Leap Day counts, so I like to think this means Davy Jones never actually died (how come none of the other conspiracy theorists are onto this one with me?!). And in that case, we really don’t have anything to be sad about today.

This also marks the anniversary of that time I participated in trivia with a bunch of Googlers in Mountain View, and an entire round was dedicated to the Monkees. Needless to say, we crushed it, although the experience really skewed my perception of pub trivia (I’ve since learned that there’s not always a round that is tailored specifically to my interests).

In honor of our dear—but not dearly departed—Davy, here are two of his songs from the Monkees catalog, a.k.a. “really catchy pop songs with atrocious lyrics.” Also featuring: Peter’s overly enthusiastic clapping, Micky’s fake drumming, and Mike’s total indifference.

Confession: I’m guilty of really liking this song, even though the lyrics are so, so dumb (thanks Neil Diamond!). Basically, Davy is encountering “all kinds of sorrow” because he can’t choose between two girls who like him. #davyproblems

A second season Rainbow Room gem. I just can’t get over the line “how old d’you say your sister was?” Somehow, Davy can get away with it.

Thanks, buddy. 60s bubblegum pop wouldn’t be the same without you.

Top Fives: Monkees Edition

Friday! Finally!

Here’s a #FBF to the first post on this blog (or “online journal,” as I called it back in 2008). In true ethno-major style, it was a celebration of the jawbone as an instrument and also, of course, the Monkees (yes! those two things actually are related). A couple notes about this: A) The number of donkey jaw videos on YouTube has increased probably tenfold since then, and I just spent a good 15 minutes watching a bunch of them, and B) 7 years later, I still have the exact same feels for the Monkees.

The fact that this blog was born out of a Monkees obsession means it’s only logical that I dedicate at least one Top 5 post to these guys. Here’s to my favorite not-so-guilty pleasure, those four long-haired weirdos!


Top Five Monkees Clothing Accessories
– because the 60s.

1. Micky’s “tablecloth” poncho:
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2. Mike’s “too cool for school” sunglasses:
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3. Colorful Nehru shirts…
nehru nehru2

4. …and the fact that Mike was the only one who didn’t start dressing like a hippie halfway through the series. The closest he got was his somewhat-groovy ties:
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5. Wool hat. Duh.
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Ok, already this is a Mike-dominated post. Sorry never sorry.


Top Five Anti-Bubblegum Monkees Songs
– As in, after the band started rebelling against the whole bubblegum pop image thing and started writing their own songs (this was mostly Mike and Micky…I’m pretty sure Davy still liked singing songs about teenage girls)…

1. Circle Sky. The song is apparently about sights and sounds from the Monkees 1968 tour, but it always makes me think of the movie scene with images from Vietnam. Definitely has a dark vibe to me.
2. Daily Nightly. One of the first songs to feature a Moog!
3. Tapioca Tundra. Those Nesmith lyrics…also, there’s a guitar riff here taken straight from “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better.”
4. Listen to the Band. Because let’s be real, Mike’s voice was made for country music. I also love that this stripped-down live version exists. Davy + tambourine = :)
5. Randy Scouse Git. A prime example of “everyone knows we’re not playing this live so let’s goof around.”
Bonus: Ditty Diego – War Chant. Not written by any of the Monkees, but in fact written by Jack Nicholson for the reputation-destroying movie Head.


Top Five Most Ridiculous Scenes

In, get this, REVERSE ORDER. (Subject to change as I binge-watch more episodes:)

5. In which Peter gets stuck in a trap bed and Davy is chased by a giant gorilla:

4. In which Davy gets captured in Mexico and the other three pretend to be bandits:

3. In which Mike plays a princess:

2. In which Micky’s pants get stolen by aliens:

1. And then there’s Mijacogeo – The Frodis Caper. THE ENTIRE EPISODE.

And that about sums up this week’s laugh riot. Special thanks to this website and this YouTube user for making this post possible.

You’re a nail-biter, and your mother never ever loved you.

Yes.

YES.

YAAAAAAASSSS.

I’ve just thought of the perfect Halloween costume.


Ok, tasteless stereotyping and ridiculousness aside…..MONKEEMEN! I mean, look at them, it’s perfect.

The reason I’m so excited? If you couldn’t guess, it’s the fact that I can wear my glasses for a costume and IT WILL LOOK 100% ACCURATE. My whole life I’ve dealt with the classic glasses-wearer dilemma: how to effectively pull off a costume when you don’t wear contacts and your vision is too bad to forego the specs. Over the years I’ve tried to brainstorm appropriate costumes for myself: Woody Allen (Alex almost agreed to be Annie Hall if I would go as Alvy Singer), Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords (that one actually turned out pretty well), Mike Nesmith and his groovy 60’s sunglasses.

But now I can be an even more fun version of Mike Nesmith!!!

Although, there’s a good chance this could end up like last year, when I was so excited to be the cover of Rumours with Alex that I put a reminder on my calendar 10 months in advance…but by the time Halloween rolled around we ran out of time and defaulted to Star Trek costumes.

But you guys, I really think I could pull this one off.

Catching up

It finally happened!:

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I made it through November alive! This was my third time attempting NaNoWriMo, and I finally succeeded in writing 50,000 words in 30 days. WOOO! Quite a lesson in commitment. I guess you could call the (un)finished product a “novel,” except I’d have months of re-writing and de-suckifying to do before I could ever consider it readable. So while there’s a good chance the story will never see the light of day, I must admit I had a lot of fun writing it. :)

That said, I’m happy to be back on the ol’ blog! Here are a couple of things that came up during November that I vowed to blog about once I hit my word count:

Nez on Portlandia
Alex and I have been catching up on Portlandia, and one night we were watching an episode in which the Mayor’s parents are introduced (turns out they’ve been paying for all of Portland’s major purchases, including a 3D printer). And I thought for a split second that my eyes were tricking me but BY GOLLY I was right: the Mayor’s dad was played by NONE OTHER THAN MIKE NESMITH OF THE MONKEES.

AHHHHHH. You have to remember that I have a hardcore crush on Monkee Mike Nesmith, but appearances like this don’t help my cause (I swear he didn’t always look like the dad of a mayor!). Luckily for you (me), I found a very relevant episode of the Monkees:

I may or may not have watched the entire episode after finding that clip. Silliest. Show. Ever. “It’s a watch fob for a giant!”

How the rest of my November was spent: fangirling HARD over Queen
I CANNOT stop loving this band, you guys. My only purchase on Black Friday was Queen Rock Montreal from Rasputin Music (at full price, haha). I have no regrets! It’s an amazing concert.

Ugh I love this song so much. Freddie’s voice is perfect and Brian is the king of the power ballad. It’s also part of my NaNoWriMo14 soundtrack, which I have on 8tracks and might post later, if I can ever think of a good title for it.

Ok, turns out those were the only other things keeping me occupied over the past month. I’m also getting back into Tumblr, which is where obsessions are born. So I’ll probably be back soon. BRACE YOURSELVES.

You’re always the dummy, Pete.

My last few posts have been very wordy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (to quote Seinfeld)…but I’m here to mix it up a bit with these two photos of Stephen Stills and Peter Tork looking like the same person:

Let it not be forgotten that Stephen Stills did in fact try out for the Monkees, but ended up recommending Peter Tork for the role instead.

Micky, Davy, Mike, and Stephen?

I mean, can you even imagine?

The odds are astronomical

Tonight we watched an exceptionally silly episode of Star Trek, in which Kirk and the crew have to outwit a planet full of humanoids who model their entire society off of the Chicago mobs of 1920s Earth (right?).

I especially liked the “Fizbin” scene below, not just because the Kirk/Spock interactions are hilarious and Bones karate chops a guy…


but because it reminded me of when the Monkees trick a guard by playing Creebage” in The Frodis Caper (trippiest Monkees episode ever, btw. Watch at your own discretion). 

Oh man. 60s TV is the greatest. Mark this one down as another “Nikki finds a way to relate two completely different things to each other” post and let’s call it a night. 

A Monkees Primer

Tomorrow is a great day because tomorrow, I am going to a Monkees concert (correction: I’m going to a Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith concert. We have yet to see who will sing “Daydream Believer”…). Alex, nice boyfriend that he is, has agreed to come along. He claims he wants to go, but let’s face it: I haven’t met another person my age who really shares my enthusiasm for the Monkees. Actually I haven’t met another person who shares that enthusiasm, period.

No enthusiasm. :(
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So, I decided to write this post as a sort of primer for the Monkees newbie. If you are being dragged to a Monkees concert by a crazy person like myself, you can at least pretend to keep up with us if you familiarize yourself with the following things:

The TV Show
First, you have to know what it is that made these guys popular in the first place. They didn’t start as a real band, they were just 4 guys hired to play one on TV. The Monkees show was a goofy time capsule of the 60s, usually involving the boys getting into ridiculous situations. Example:

(Understandably?) The show only lasted for 2 seasons. But what ridiculously glorious seasons they were  (I have them both on DVD if anyone ever wants to watch). R.I.P. 1966-1968.
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Headquarters
The Monkees got a bad rap for not playing their own instruments on their first albums. They were never intended to be a real band, but essentially they became one. In 1967 they released the album Headquarters, which was pretty much all their own work. When it was released, it was #1 on the US charts until it was replaced by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, so….yeah. Word on the street is they’re going to play lots of songs from this album on the upcoming tour (whee!).

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Head
A.k.a. the Monkees movie a.k.a. the weirdest movie ever. Why is it called that, you ask? I don’t know, and I kind of wish it wasn’t (cue 13-year-old Nikki telling her parents loudly in the video store that she “wants to get Head!”). The movie was the exact opposite of the TV show: satirical, uninhibited, and super-psychedelic.

Ahh Mike, always the party pooper.
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Post-Monkees Tours and Controversies
The Monkees have done plenty of tours since they disbanded in 1970, but they were never real reunions. It’s a known fact that Mike refused to join the others whenever they went on tour (except for like one time), and Monkees fans are often bitter about this (I have mixed feelings: Mike is my favorite, but it is kind of a douchey move…). A lot of people think he’s just doing this one out of obligation but ehh…I don’t know. I follow him pretty closely on Facebook (haha, stalker much?) and he seems genuinely happy to be doing these shows. I’ll let you know after tomorrow. :)

AWWWWWW THEY’RE SO OLD.
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And finally, I’ll leave you with some of Nikki’s Favorite Monkees Songs:
Pleasant Valley Sunday – More TV show silliness
Porpoise Song – Featured in the ending of Head, trippy…
Cuddly Toy – Actually, it’s more of a favorite video. Can never get enough of Davy’s dancing!
Goin Down – I always underestimate this song; Micky is so awesome. Cool video, too.
Basically anything sung by Mike *SWOON*

END OF BLOG POST. I HEREBY DECLARE MY UNABASHED LOVE FOR THE MONKEES.
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