Mike Talks About His Childhood
Magazine: Monkees Monthly #5
Editor: Jackie Richmond
Publisher: Beat Publications Ltd.
“So now some people think I’m moody and difficult. Well, I come from the South. That’s really the key to it. I grew up among coloured people and there’s no arguments that the Southern coloured folk are abused and sat upon. And that’s a stone drag for me. I don’t like it one bit. Basically, I think I’m usually a happy sort of guy but that sort of background knocks it out of you and I end up with a sort of chip on my shoulder about how complacent some people get. I LIVED this sort of life, remember. I know more about it…
“All right, I know that white guys from the same area don’t have the same views as me. That’s fair enough—every man to his own opinion. But then you can’t be normal, be average, if you are in my sort of position. We are, as Monkees, none of us normal. I believe that is why we were picked out of the many who wanted to be in the show. So you may ask in what way are we not normal?
“I’d reply like this. You’ve been out to a late-night party, having a few drinks. You have a hangover so your teeth itch and your eyes are the shape of saucers. At six-thirty in the morning, someone turns the spotlights on you and says: ‘Be funny’. You go on and be funny. It takes more than the average person to do that. Say ‘You’re on-stage’ to me and like as not I’ll leap into a routine of singing and hand-clapping and dancing and gag-telling. No matter how lousy I feel inside. No matter if I think that every time I shake my head I’ll end up with nothing up there on my shoulders!
“Therefore I’m not normal about money matters or about this question how it is that some guys get left behind simply because they’re the ‘wrong’ colour. I now realise that you can’t get carried away with every thing that goes against you. If things go wrong nowadays, or something upsets me, I just try to keep calm and sober. All right, I AM moody and rude and sometimes I feel bit violent. It all stems from those early days, from the time when we moved from Houston, Texas, to Dallas where my grandfather had left us that piece of land.
“I was for ever either the only white boy in class or the only poor boy in class. I was the one who found it difficult to make friends simply because I was WHO I was. I’m not sorry for myself—because it created a situation whereby both my mother and myself have been able to fight against it. I always fought against a system where you were rejected out of hand if you didn’t have a stack of loot in your wallet.
“Believe me, thinking back in this way has done me a lot of good. I guess I hid away from a lot of the things that bugged me most when I was a kid. But you don’t put right wrongs by being scared of them.
“So now I do laugh. We beat ’em, my mother and I. Can’t help feeling proud. And rather happy as well.”
Mike Nesmith, in one of his most revealing interviews, ended by saying: “Believe me, money doesn’t mean half as much as personal happiness.”