Blimey, is that the time?
Okay, I hadn’t planned to be away for so long, and I will explain why. Soon, but not yet.
It’s not appropriate to go into it today, for the event that has coaxed me back to my keyboard was the sad passing this week of ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith.
I was going to write a much longer piece about him, but I see that Alyson over at What’s It All About? has done a fine job of eulogising about him (which you can read here), so I’ll stick to posting (actually, re-posting) my two favourite Nesmith moments.
Firstly, a song from his time with The Monkees, which he didn’t write but did sing lead vocals on. This is without doubt my favourite song by the band by a country mile:
The Monkees – What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round
(Coincidentally, I picked up a vinyl copy of the album that’s from, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd, on ebay the other day. The vendor who let it go for £1.99 + postage must be kicking himself he didn’t list it a day or two later. It arrived on the morning that Nesmith died. I do hope the two things aren’t linked. Maybe I should test this serendipitous theory by buying Coldplay records and crossing my fingers.)
The footage is, I think, taken from one of their TV shows, which originally aired in 1966, but I remember watching reruns of it during the late 70s/early 80s. I loved it, utterly buying into the jokes and, with the benefit of hindsight, the slightly anarchic format of the show Each episode was a fairly ramshackle affair, with a performance or two such as this thrown in for good measure.
At the time, drummer Micky Dolenz (and last surviving member of the band) was my favourite, because he seemed to get all the funniest lines. But watching that clip I just find him really irritating. Alright Micky, stop trying to hog the camera. We all saw you do your “funny” wave the first time, no need to repeat it an additional four times.
Anyway. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, for, now that my musical taste-buds are fully developed, I realise that it wasn’t Dolenz I should have been watching, but Nesmith. It’s always the quiet ones.
For he penned a song which, if I absolutely had to name my top 5 favourite records, would definitely, 100% nailed-on be in it. It’s probably the song which I have – and have posted – the most versions of.
I speak, of course, of Different Drum.
All those different versions I have? All great, because the song is so good, it’s nigh on impossible to screw it up. If I had to pick my favourite version, it would probably be the most well known one – the Linda Rondstadt/Stone Poneys version.
Here’s Linda and the boys belting it out live; you may note the link says there is a jazz harp involved, but if there is then I blinked and missed it (which is probably a good thing: to these ears a jazz harp sounds like an innuendo waiting to happen: “She only walked in and caught me strumming my jazz harp….”):
And here’s Susanna Hoffs performing an acoustic version because…well, do I need a reason to post a video clip of Ms Hoffs? Thought not.
But Nesmith’s honky-tonk version, now performed as Michael Nesmith rather than Mike (like when footballer Andy Cole started insisting everyone call him Andrew so he seemed more grown up) with the First National Band, is still rather wonderful. Because it cannot fail to be.
Any excuse to post it again is always welcome, except this time, I wish the reason wasn’t done with such a heavy heart:
Michael Nesmith & the First National Band – Different Drum (Alternate Version)
Rest in peace Mike/Michael.
More soon. (No, really!)