Friday, June 03, 2016

Monkee Business

The following is about something I once heard Michael Nesmith, one of the Monkees, say in an interview and it made an impression on me. This is from June 18, 2007. 

The Monkees were the precursors of the music video generation. For several years in the late 1960's, the quartet that was assembled as a band to be the backdrop for a television show churned out hit records even though many believed they were, as a group, possessing dubious music credentials. Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith became stars as actors in thirty minute spoofs, silly but appealing to American kids. The success story, as seemed to be the norm for the era, began unraveling as the foursome began demanding more control of their musical career. In 1970, the group that gave us Last Train To Clarksville and Daydream Believer disbanded, living on in syndicated television and the rare reunion concert.My favorite of the four was Michael Nesmith. A skinny Texan who wore a green stocking hat, Nesmith was an interesting character on and off the screen. A noted musician in his own right, he penned Linda Ronstadt's mega hit, Different Drum. His mother, Bette Nesmith, was the inventor and patent-holder of Liquid Paper, leaving her son an inheritance of close to $25 million when she died. Nesmith is also sometimes credited with being the creator of MTV which forever altered the culture of American pop music. After the dissolution of The Monkees, he fronted several bands and continued to write and perform music. One of his finest efforts was the beautiful, Joanne. I found it on You-tube, paired with a collage honoring long-time husband and wife, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. In the same category, I found a live recording of Joanne, presumably on American Bandstand. There was no accompanying film, just a flashing of Nesmith photographs. When the song was finished, Nesmith was interviewed by Dick Clark (I think!) about his career and tastes in music. The question was asked how Nesmith came to make such a lovely and successful record as Joanne, with its country music overtones, while professing not to like country music in the first place. He admitted that the twang and structure of the country style was not his cup of tea. But he followed up that pronouncement with a remarkable statement:

"What I like about country music is that
it represents a lifestyle with which I am extraordinarily comfortable.''

Doesn't that describe a number of Christians? We might not actually embrace the essence of Christianity- the sacrifice, the carrying the cross part- but we are at ease in the lifestyle. It may be, like Nesmith being exposed to country music as a child, what we have grown up with. If we are raised in a Christian home, it's seamlessly woven into our childhood. Remember the Commodores' song, Easy Like Sunday Morning? That can describe some of us if we aren't careful. Our religion might be non-threatening on the level we practice it. But Christianity should not be the refuge of the comfortable. Comfortable implies predictable or stagnant, not necessarily relevant. Maybe a little dose of chaos would keep us on our toes. Not too much- just a little!

Applicable quote of the day:

"The Monkees are like the Mafia. You're in for life. Nobody gets out."
Davy Jones

To watch and listen to Michael Nesmith singing Joanne, click or copy/paste:

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Elizabeth McKenzie said...

Thank you this post. I enjoyed the history refresher.

I really enjoyed the song and the movie. I'd forgotten about the Monkees and the song.

Debbie said...

We surround ourselves with Christian friends, attend only Christian themed events and wrap ourselves in a safe and warm cocoon. To quote Mike Nesmith (somewhat liberally) " represents a lifestyle with which WE are extraordinarily comfortable." Rather we should be cultivating non-believing friends and occasionally being uncomfortable. NOT unbiblical just uncomfortable.

Judy said...

Jesus' life was anything but comfortable.