Tag: 1960’s

Daydream Believer

The music of The Monkees has been my friend for over fifty years.

As a six-year-old kid infatuated with these fun-loving characters on my TV screen; I know how much The Monkees have always meant to me. Whatever man I am, whatever person I try to be, watching The Monkees, and listening tImage result for The MOnkeeso The Monkees, was an essential part of growing up.

In fact, unashamedly I admit, while it would be cooler to say it was The Beatles or some other classic act, The Monkees were the first “album” I ever bought. 

I’m a believer.

Doesn’t it feel good to say that?

Doesn’t it feel good to acknowledge that giddy feeling of joy that wells up within you when you hear a terrific, transcendent pop song on the radio?

How many times did I sing along with, “Daydream Believer”?

I couldn’t even begin to guess. 

Isn’t it great to let the music fill you with that grand, unspoken sensation of freedom, to turn the volume up as loud as you can, and just sing along, even if you don’t really know all the words?

Your troubles don’t vanish; your cares won’t slip away; woImage result for The MOnkeesrk still has to be done, your heart still requires mending, and your body and soul still shudder from the unnamed ache that never quite surrenders its grip. But for approximately two minutes and fifty-nine seconds, you are able to disappear from what’s wrong in the world.

What a gift that Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith were to my childhood.

Vivid memories as a child still remain. I was five years old when The Monkees debuted on the charts and TV screens in 1966, with a # 1 hit single called “Last Train To Clarksville” and a vibrant weekly show.

I didn’t know they weren’t cool. Because, obviously, they were cool: they were like a magic, irresistible combination of Batman and The Beatles—and really, in the ’60s, what could be cooler than that?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wasn’t created to validate the tastes of clueless five-year-old kids from Oak Harbor, Ohio.

That’s fair.

The Hall of Fame is a celebration of rock ‘n’ roll music, an embrace of its history and the people who made it happen. It’s a tribute to the power of that music, to rock’s ability to express and embody rebellion, to break down barriers, to inspire, https://i1.wp.com/andrew-wittman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Daydream-believer.jpgto transcend, to elevate, to unite. It’s about more than catchy pop songs, more than a manufactured image, more than photogenic faces on the cover of a teen magazine. It means something. It matters.

But you wanna know something? It turns out The Monkees somehow did all of that. The Monkees rebelled. The Monkees broke down barriers. The Monkees inspired, transcended, elevated, united. The Monkees meant something. The Monkees mattered.

The Monkees were also influential. More than any other act—even more than The Beatles—The Monkees brought the burgeoning ’60s counter-culture into everyday American living rooms, via their weekly TV showcase. They had long hair. They brandished peace symbols.

The Monkees’ popularity is indisputable fact: # 1 singles, # 1 albums, the best-selling musical act of 1967, believe it or not, outselling The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined. Don’t believe?  Look it up.

I’m a believer.

This shouldn’t be true—this was supposed to be soundtrack music for a TV sitcom, for God’s sake—but the evidence is there, and it’s been there from the start.

The evidence will make a believer out of you, too.

The Monkees’ recordings have remained radio staples for five decades and show no sign of ever fading away. Reruns of the TV series have continually renewed the group’s fan base, as new generations of fans have discovered the enduring appeal of four guys walking down the street, getting the funniest looks from everyone they meet.

But popularity alone does not make an act worthy of induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; there are dozens and dozens of mega-selling pop entities that will never be considered Hall of Fame material, and rightly so.

But I’m a believer.

Belief sustains us, even when everyone says we’re wrong. Music comforts us, when much of life may seems uncertain and perilous. Love, hope, and friendship encourage us, when our senses and surroundings insist there’s little of substance left to grasp and hold fast. We are encouraged by our friends, our hope, our love, our music; we are encouraged by our belief.

Micky. Davy. Peter. Michael.

Weren’t they good?  They made me happy.

I’m a believer, even if it is in Daydreams.

 

No Silver Spoons to Eat With, Just the Lower Level of Middle America

My family is made up of my father, Robert, my mother, Agnes and my brothers James (Jim) and Robert (Bobby) and my sister Linda.

I am the youngest of the children and have always been treated accordingly. I was born into a family that was at best on the outside appeared moderately “traditional” in the way of the early 1960’s.

My Dad worked and my Mom raised the kids.

On the inside of the walls of our Walnut street home our family was “non-traditional” in the sense that in a very real way, not one of us as children ever really knew our father.

Not to say that we did not know who he was, or that we did not know what he looked like. We knew him in those ways, however, I believe I can speak for my brothers and sister…we have never known our father.

He was absent. Not necessarily always by his own choice, but by a career that he choose.

Maybe I should say it chose him. Either way, he wasn’t there.

We did not know him in the way that one can know another person. We did not know what he was like as a child or even what were his true dreams and desires were for his life.

For you see, our father was a truck driver. A true truck driver is a very unique breed. There are very few true truck drivers left anymore. They may be legally married to another person, however, ultimately, they are physically, emotionally and even spiritually married to the road. My father was someone who showed up on weekends. He never made it to the ball games or the plays. I have absolutely no recollection of him being at one of the activities I was a part of.

He would come in late on Friday and leave on Sunday afternoon. The short periods he would come home and then head out when the next load was ready to be delivered, influenced what we did learn about him. We did not know him. In turn, all too often these times at home were punctuated by the temper and frustration of a man that did not know his own family.  However, make no mistake in understanding my upbringing.  My father loved us…all of us.  His way of showing it was working hard and answering the bell every time work called.  I know of no other trait that he could have instilled in us that would have made us better adults than him passing on his work ethic to his children.

Our lives were no more, or no less scarred by our up bringing than any other family on our block. In spite of having a father that was on the road and never really home, we experienced the joys of life.

The thrill of growing up in innocence and the memories of Christmas mornings seen through my eyes as a child were magical.

We weren’t poor. I have seen poor in my life and that would not have best described us.

On the other hand, we were not rich either. No silver spoons to eat with, just the lower level of Middle America. We never owned the house that we lived in, yet my dad always had a good car in the driveway.

We did not get the latest and greatest new toy that some children got on our block, at least not when they were most popular. The clothes that we wore were clean and appropriate. My sister had it somewhat easier when it came to clothes. I would have to endure the chore of wearing hand me downs from my brother Bobby. I am sure he had to wear clothes from our oldest brother Jim.

We were not deprived from having “things” in our life. We were just were on the “wait until school starts” plan for new clothes and the Christmas and Birthday wish list for toys.

If I strain my memory, I can still remember the day when the package came in the mail from J. C. Penney that would be my new clothes for the school year.  I can still smell the new clothes I received for the first day of school and I remember that life was no better, than when I got a “transistor radio” for my birthday when I was seven.

Life was good…as fine as childhood memories go.

But then again, maybe it’s just me…