Time is a thief that will rob you of your years, your youth the only ransom you can pay.
— B.B. King
We were just
kids then at Irwin County Elementary.
Kids being kids.
It was 1966, and even minus the Internet, minus 24-hour news and entertainment networks, minus even cable television, we were enchanted by The Monkees. That made-for-TV singing group — the “Pre-Fab Four” to the Beatles’ Fab Four — captured our collective imagination like no artist had ever done.
Sure, there were those of us who inheritted the music of our parents — most of whom embraced the country music of George Jones, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn — and a few who caught on early to the Beatles and the British Invasion.
But The Monkees were something different. They were ours, and there weren’t many things that could keep us from plopping down in front of our TV sets each week to watch their zany antics. The girls thought they were dreamy; we guys knew they were cool.
And we all loved the music ... “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Sunny Girlfriend,” “Daydream Believer,” “She,” “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” ...
(Quick side note: As I’ve worked here at The Herald all these years later, anytime someone asks “What page is that on?” and the answer is “7A,” I always vividly hear the studio intro to “Daydream Believer” in which Davy Jones asks “What take?” and two or three engineer types in the studio say “7A!” simultaneously, leading Davy to respond, “OK, no need to get excited, man, it’s ’cause I’m short, I know.” I don’t know why that always jumps in my head, but it does.)
A music-obsessed quartet of us at ICES took our Monkees obsession a little farther than our more normal classmates. We became the Monkees. Jack Peavy was Peter (Tork), Stewart Paramore was Mike (Nesmith), Dale Kennedy was Mickey (Dolenz) and I was Davy. I remember so well us swinging as high as we dared on the playground swingset during recess, singing “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees, and people say we monkey around ...”
And this wasn’t just an us thing. Pretty much every student we ran into at Irwin Elementary called us by our Monkee names. I don’t think I answered to anything but Davy (except to teachers) for a full two years. Ironically, I remember when an ugly rumor spread that Davy had been killed in a car crash and one of my classmates came up to me and said, “I can’t talk to you ... I don’t talk to dead people.”
It’s ironic now in retrospect because Davy Jones really is dead. He died Wednesday at age 66 after suffering a heart attack.
Death, as we know, is the price we pay for life. In its aftermath we reminisce and mourn, supposedly for the departed. But in reality, we mourn for ourselves with the passing of a loved one. We are the ones who now carry on minus someone who left us with a vacant place in our hearts and souls.
After we say our goodbyes to those whose lives intersected with ours in some significant way, we move on. Time has a way of, if not alleviating the pain we feel, at least dulling it enough so that we can compartmentalize it. That keeps us from being consumed. Then, as we move forward, we’re often inspired to call upon our treasure of stored-up memories. In doing so, our departed loved ones remain a vital part of our lives.
I’ll always remember Davy Jones fondly. I have his music to remind me of the impact he had on me during my formative years, and I easily recall flying high on the swingset with the rest of the Irwin County Monkees. Yep, we were just kids being kids. But we created a sweet memory that will live on in my heart for as long as it continues to beat.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.