As regular readers will know, these monthly Transatlantic phone calls with the Monkees come up in order—Davy, Micky, Peter and Mike following each other month by month so that, technically, they come up once a quarter. Great… except that I’m not much good at keeping notes on the actual order.
Anyway, whatever the reason, I had this feeling that it was Micky due to call through with the latest chit-chat for this edition of Monkees Monthly. So there I sat, anxiously awaiting the tinkle-tinkle of the telephone and figuring that there was a whole lot of question material I would fire at the famous father-to-be.
Sure enough, the phone rang on time—around half-way through the Monkee album I happened to be playing to help me get the atmosphere. “Call from Hollywood, U.S.A.” said the operator. “Hah,” thought I… the Magical Monkee Moments are upon me once again!
Me: Hi, there Mickey [sic]!
Temporarily unidentified voice: Who? Micky? Oh y-e-s!
Short pause while the voice apparently collected its thoughts.
Voice: Say, what do you think of this—it’s my impersonation of Humphrey Bogart impersonating James Cagney impersonating Micky Dolenz…
Me (struggling to make sense of what seemed complete nonsense): Er, yes, it’s very good. Very good indeed, Micky!
Voice: Yeah? Well, listen Jackie—it’s me… Mike Nesmith. Say, weren’t you expecting me?
Me (realising my appalling bloomer): Oh sorry Mike. I was just dreaming away here. How are things with you?
Mike: Well, all right then. Jackie, I know that your magazine has given full coverage to our tour of the Far East, and we hope you enjoyed the stories and pictures, but I’ve simply gotta add my personal point that it really was a most exciting tour. We all had a ball and it was a knock-out to meet so many fans out there. You know, they knew just about everything about our activities. Makes you realise just what a small place the world really is…
Me: Um… look, Mike, it’s a tricky business but I feel I must ask you about the rumours. Know what I mean?
Mike: Yeah, Jackie, I do know what you mean. mean. Like “Mike Nesmith has loused up his marriage”… like “the Monkees are splitting ’cos they’re finished”… oh, sure I KNOW what you mean. The point is this. There’s always somebody around who wants to put you down. These guys latch on to the slightest little thing.
Me: It must be embarrassing, Mike, but I guess it is one of the penalties of being a famous figure.
Mike: Sure. You know I think I was the Monkee who found it hardest to get used to the demands made upon the group when we made it.
Me: I understand.
Mike: But you can take it from me that the Monkees are alive and living well and we have a lot of plans for the future. One, of course, was for this television spectacular, but so far we’re running into hang-ups over the actual story-line. They were making it a bit too much of a fairy-story thing, you know kind of a fantasy, and it just didn’t seem to click with any of us. So a whole heap of re-writing went on before we actually went before the cameras. Then there’s the tour of Britain, which should be real groovy as we’re definitely going to visit a lot of your cities.
Me: Unfortunately, Mike, it’s obvious you’re not going to be able to please everybody.
Mike: Nope… and that’s another problem, I guess. We want to see everything and meet everybody, but you just figure it out for yourself. Say there are thirty or forty big cities in Britain. You can only do one a day, that’s for sure, and you also have to have time off otherwise you’d go plumb crazy with tiredness. Well, already that’s more than a month gone in just one country. In America, there are that many States, let alone big centres. We do what we can but it’s inevitable that we’re gonna disappoint some fans. To them, we say… sorry!
Me: How’s that stuffed Koala bear you brought back from Australia.
Mike: You mean Nelson. He has pride of place in the Nesmith home. There he sits, surveying all through his beady little eyes. He’s got a real warm expression on his face and sometimes he looks like he was real. A great reminder of those days back in Australia. I think you can safely say he has become a naturalised American citizen by now.
Me: I hear you wowed ’em with your snappy dressing, Mike.
Mike: Nice of you to say so. Yep, I guess that is true. I’ve got some groovy smart suits which I like wearing. ‘Sfunny how things change. I feel in myself that I’m the most sober-dressed Monkee these days.
Me: We’ve got some great pictures of the new-look Mike.
Mike: You mean the full bit? The button-down shirt and the square-toed boots and the colourful tie? Ah well.. here’s me for the list of the ten best-dressed guys in the world!
Me: Time drags a bit for us while we’re waiting for you to visit us again, Mike.
Mike: Won’t be long now, Jackie. Of course the sad thing was that Davy returned home for a while because of the death of his father. That was a great tragedy, you know… Davy and his dad were real close. His father really encouraged Davy in whatever he wanted to do. Davy was broken up when he heard the news and a whole lot of that sadness rubbed off on us. But he wouldn’t want me to say any more.
Me: Been doing any writing recently?
Mike: Well, since “Wichita Train Whistle” I’ve been working on some more arrangements and numbers. I guess I was pretty pleased with that album and I’m more than delighted with some of the reviews sent over from Britain. I dunno… I seem to write in spasms. Sometimes it all happens there in my mind, sometimes it goes a bit stale on me. I’ve pretty well completed a book of poetry and short stories about a little boy who climbs in through the lens of a camera and kinda surveys the world outside, but I’m absolutely decided on not publishing it until things really get quiet on other scenes. Seems some critics think it’s all wrong for a musician-actor to even be capable of busting in on the writing side as well. You can be TOO ambitious, you know.
Me: I’d love to read some of your poems one day…
Mike: You shall, you shall. Maybe I’ll get to read them to you personally, using my Shakespearian-actor voice.
Me: What’s all that noise in the background?
Mike: Glad you reminded me. We have so much noise round these parts, what with the kids an’ all, that I forget its [sic] even going on. But, seriously, we have some friends round and we’re really in the middle of an impromptu little dinner party. So, if you don’t mind, Jackie, I’ll go back and join the guests. Been nice talking with you again… and don’t forget now, my love to all the folks in Britain.