On Facebook, that scourge of Rock Town Hall, I got sucked into pissing off modern-day Monkees devotees over their celebration of some article declaring The Monkees as the “Motown of Rock.” This is the kind of shooting-fish-in-a-barrel nonsense that makes me think it’s time to build a new church, a new congregation from the wonderful materials we’ve developed here. As I just got done telling some legendary digital Power Pop Nerd, if he wants to compare the Monkees to The Supremes or The Temptations be my guest. I’ll keep my mouth shut and not say something pissy like, “Well, let’s not go crazy, they’re more like Martha & The Vandellas…” For all our hard work, the core belief that Greatness is somewhat better than Goodness has failed to take root. There must be a way to get these people back on the path toward Greatness, despite how far they’ve strayed from said path.
Where the Motown comparison falls apart, and where the myths of The Monkees being “fake” crumble, is in the nagging fact that less than two years after forming, The Monkees deliberately stepped out of the star-making machinery that created them and assumed creative control of their music and image. In a particularly rock ’n’ roll move, Mike Nesmith sealed the contentious break with the band’s puppet-master Don Kirshner (ironically, a Hall Of Fame inductee in part for creating The Monkees and The Archies), by putting his fist through a wall while shouting to Kirshner, “That could have been your face!” From there, the band started writing, playing and touring in earnest (hand-picking then relatively unknown Jimi Hendrix as their opening act, no less). Once they started calling their own shots, they made their most critically acclaimed album, Headquarters, which Mojo called “a masterpiece of ’60s pop.”
It occurred to me that the annual beef that The Monkees are getting shafted by not being inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame may be tops among Rock’s First-World Issues. Is there no better sign of Rock Entitlement than the energy one expends on that topic? What other First-World Issues in Rock come to mind?