With You, Without You

Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith
Color photo by Cyril Maitland

This Christmas will be an anniversary for us, Monks. You and me. I was very busy last year, what with the Buffalo Springfield and all, so I never really took notice of you until then. I’d love to have you over to join me in the celebration cake, but I know you’ll be too busy being Monkees. It would be very comfortable if you could, though, because I know you and you would probably recognize me. Not because we’ve met before, but because you would know a friend when you saw one.

Can a friend tell you a story?

I used to feel sorry for the Beatles. Four extremely alive young dandies, having such an amazing opportunity to explore a million new facets of living, all with red carpet treatment and an unguided tour. (“I was alone, I took a ride”), and yet when they travelled across the border to which the average mind extends, they were defectors in the eyes of a frightful majority.

Later, perhaps they were surprised, but surely delighted, to see how many joined them in the Strawberry Fields. Maybe they thought they had discovered a whole new audience, one which had been (unknowingly) waiting for the maturation of the Beatles before hearing the music. But I hope the Beatles know about those of us who have literally lived the past four years with them. Those of us who were just 17, if you know what I mean. We had been waiting (unknowingly) for a group like them to walk off a turntable and touch us and be touched. And the Beatles came unsuspectingly.

There had been a lot of us then and we were all basically young and had been waiting for a very long time and when we touched them, we almost knocked them over. Returning a million friendships took a lot of their time. Life is made of time, though, and they were still young.

Bodies, however young, are not made of limitless energy. It takes energy to give anything and the Beatles spent the first three years of their lives (the ones the world allowed them to share) giving everything. By the time they had dangled toes in enough neighboring ponds and were ready to try for the sea, they had probably grown very tired of people (and I use the term loosely).

They looked to see what they had, what we had taken, what they missed and what they needed. They had money, friends, cars, books. (“But I found that what I needed wasn’t material.”) They found that they had lost themselves.

Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork

The Beatles, being courageous, brave and bold, plucked up the courage to ask us (their best friends) for their long-lost selves.

“Indian giver!” cried my 13-year-old cousin.

“It’s mine, you know,” smiled sweetly John. “You can come along, tho.’”

“It’s mine, it’s mine! You said I could have it!,” the midget repeatedly screamed, louder, louder.

My friends and I hung our coats on her flailing arms and followed the Beatles. The most exciting trip of a lifetime. We were on a very long road, which meandered through Wonderland and the forest of Oz. Each step was the first for a hundred or a mililon [sic] more. We all sang, all one song. We all knew one another from the beginning and even before.

For Monkee fans who are reaching for pen and paper, epithets spewing from wet lips, this is a phrotus story—it can be anything you want it to be. It can be magic. It can be a story about the Beatles or the Monkees or the Good Guys or the Bad Guys. But for you who are about to replace the name Beatles with Monkees, may I add a short epilogue?

The first three years are the hardest. The Monkees are half way there. I wish I could be interested in their journey, but you see, I’m part of a whole new audience waiting, one that is unsuspectingly waiting for the maturation of the Monkees. For those of us who are waiting at the depot, the train is not late. It just takes a long time. Be patient, be young, be willing to grow, and have a good journey.


Magazine: TeenSet
Editor: Judith Sims
Volume: 3
Issue: 12
Publisher: Capitol Records Distributing Corp.
Pages: 52–55