I wasn’t a child of the sixties. I was born in 1982, two years after John Lennon died, more than a decade after The Beatles split up, thirteen years after Woodstock and sixteen years after The Monkees first leapt, skipped, bounced and jived on to television screens.
I was a child of the eighties so, by all rights, I should have spent my childhood listening to Bananarama and Wham.
Instead, I was a child of the eighties who felt vehemently and deeply that she should have been a child of the sixties.
I was the one kid at my sixties-themed social who dressed as a “mod” and not a hippy. I was the only one who knew what a mod was! I had a picture of John Lennon above my bed that I used to kiss every night, and I spent many, many hours as a thirteen year old pulling sultry faces at the mirror and pretending to be Janis Joplin.
These were the years before YouTube, so all my musical knowledge came from my parents, in particular my dad who, back in the day, had sported some very groovy sideburns and a funky pair of horn-rimmed glasses. My dad was cool! He was the guy who introduced me to The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Troggs, The Easybeats, Billy Thorpe, Janis, The Beach Boys, The Stones and, of course, The Monkees.
I have to admit it took me a while to warm to The Monkees. When Dad first played them too me I was deep in the throes of Beatlemania and had just graduated from their early, poppy sound to the beginnings of an obsession with their later, trippy, “Guru Deva” inspired psychedelia. The Monkees sounded a bit too happy and boppy and poppy for my newly angsty teenage self (this was around the time of Nirvana and I was wearing the flannie and the boots, but I was listening to Joni Mitchell, Marianne Faithful and Joe Cocker instead of Seattle grunge).
Slowly, though, as time went on, I warmed to their frothy effervescence. They made me smile. I knew they were “manufactured” but so what? So were most of the bands in the ’90s!
I liked Davy the best. He was English and I was also obsessed at the time with all things English (it would later become a factor in my fondness for The Spice Girls and Take That – I loved their accents as much as anything else), and he had a cheeky smile and rich, warm, dark eyes. He was a bit gorgeous!
Of course, as time went on, I moved on from my sixties infatuation. I did get into some ’90s pop for awhile, but soon came to develop a love of country and folk music (again, inherited from my dad). I still often played my Beatles CDs, though. I still bawled my eyes out when George Harrison died. I still, sneakily, when I needed a little lift, danced around my room to The Beach Boys and The Monkees. In the early 2000’s, the – mostly now-forgotten- band, Smashmouth put out a cover of “I’m a Believer”, and I bought my dad the single. We both danced around his lounge-room – him a child of the sixties and me still wishing I’d been one. I felt so grateful then for my father, for the musical education he’d given me, and for being the only kid at school who knew that the Smashmouth version was a cover!
This morning I listened to the song again (the original version this time) on YouTube and I may have shed a tear but I also emailed the clip to my dad and did a little dance around my lounge room imagining that, in his lounge room, he was doing the same. And I was grateful to The Monkees and to cheeky Davy Jones, for providing a soundtrack to my childhood and an unbreakable bond between me and my dad.
And here is what my dad had to say after I sent him the link:
‘Once upon a time a group was put together by the music moguls. They weren’t allowed to play instruments on their recordings, but they could sing and they could act – after a fashion. They still came up with some of the best music of the sixties, then showed the world they were all accomplished in their own right. For a long time after they faded it wasn’t cool to like the Monkees, but now the world has started to rediscover how very talented they were.”