By Dennis Minich
A couple of weeks ago I got to fulfill a lifelong dream. I had the chance to perform a song with the remaining members of the 1960s rock band, the Monkees. I have sung along with their music on recordings for years, but never did I imagine I would one day get to sing along with them.
But sure enough, the two living members of the group, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith were in Kansas City and they invited me to sing along with them. I can only say it was quite an honor and I was surprisingly calm. But when it was over and I heard the applause, I just wanted to do it again. Of course, they were on the stage and I was sitting in the seventh row, but it was still the thrill of a lifetime to get invited to join them.
I will remember Micky’s invitation forever, “You all know the words, sing along with us.” That’s how he phrased it, but I knew he was talking specifically to me.
I have from time to time mentioned musical artists who I have enjoyed in my lifetime. I know that I have seen Chicago in concert at least four times. I got to see Glen Campbell on one of his final tours. I got to shake hands with Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders fame and thank him for his gift of music. But long before many of the acts and performers who would fill in my music library in later years, there was the Monkees.
The first “45” I ever bought was the Monkees. The first album I ever owned was their second album, “More of the Monkees.” I bought into everything Monkees, I believe I have two years of grade school pictures of me wearing double-breasted shirts, a trademark fashion statement of theirs at the time.
I am not sure if you can wear out a vinyl record, but if you can, I probably wore out their first five albums I listened to them so often. It was no challenge when Micky said to sing along, I knew the words. I knew the words to most all of their songs because I have listened and sung along so often.
It wasn’t the first time I had seen part of the group. I saw Dolenz, along with Davey Jones at Worlds of Fun about 40 years ago. I remember they were talking to people as they got on to one of the roller coasters. I got to exchange pleasantries with Dolenz. The Monkees were disbanded at that time, so while I saw the two performers, it was not the actual “group” per se. Sadly, I missed their reunion tours when all four members were alive. Both Jones and Peter Tork have died.
The recent performance was more about nostalgia than it was the music. The band was mostly players who were likely not yet born when the Monkees kicked off their meteoric rise and fall in the late 60s. While Dolenz could still belt out most of the tunes, his range had obviously narrowed and pace slowed. Nesmith struggled though most of the set, but frankly, at 81 his performance was commendable.
The nostalgia of the evening was a two-edged sword. While it was exciting and memorable to see the actual performers who made so much of my early musical memories, it was equally hard to look at them and realize the toll time had taken on them.
But that fact was also noticeable in the crowd. The theater was full of folks who obviously shared the same early affection I did. There were a few youngsters on hand and by youngsters, I mean folks under 40. Most of those in attendance were adorned with the gray hairs and extra pounds that come with age. I don’t know if being a Monkees fan was ever really cool, but for 90 minutes on a rainy Wednesday night, we got to act that way.
I loved seeing the show. The songs will make for a great memory. Had I been a few sizes smaller, I could have actually purchased a T-shirt printed to appear as if it were a double-breasted shirt. I will remember the thrill of the crowd as the duo sang verse after verse of songs we have known most of our lives.
But mostly I will remember, I got to sing with the Monkees. The song was “Daydream Believer,” which is what I will always be.