Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We’re Too Busy Singin’ to Put Anybody Down Part II

Now, although I first started listening to The Monkees when the Vietnam War was still going on, I was too young to make any connection between the fact that these guys were on TV singing and being sweetly goofy for us adoring girls when they could have or should have been soldiering in Vietnam.  No, all that mattered to me and my sister was that Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz looked endearingly cute in their groovy outfits and sang songs that we could sing along with so that we could nurture our school-girl crushes on them.  We did not care about their opinions concerning the Vietnam War.  We had no opinion about the war ourselves.  But now, I want to know what their feelings were about the situation…

I’ve been nosing around the internet, trying to find anything connecting The Monkees to the Vietnam War, and I discovered some things that may or may not be true about the group, like the following:  1)  that Last Train to Clarksville (The Monkees’ first hit song), written by Boyce & Hart is about a young soldier who is being deployed from Fort Campbell army base in Clarksville, TN to Vietnam, AND that the refrain “Oh, no, no, no…Oh, no, no, no” is “a response to the Beatles famous ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah;’"  2) that in 1967, British-born Monkee Davy Jones was ordered to report for a medical examination that could have resulted in his being drafted into U.S. military service, but was excused because of his short stature and being underweight (NOT on the grounds that he was the sole supporter of his family, which is reported on several sites); 3) that Micky Dolenz was also drafted in 1967 and that due to being underweight (not because of Perthese disease, again, reported on numerous sites) he was excused; and 4) that the FBI mentioned The Monkees in two different files, one file for anti-war activities, the other file so redacted as to be unreadable.  

I have found few interviews in which the guys talk about where they stood politically or personally on the Vietnam War.  But in an interview that Davy Jones granted to Spinner, posted July 13, 2011, we can see a glimpse of Jones’ stance when the following question was asked:
“Spinner:  Even though 'Last Train to Clarksville' was secretly about Vietnam, the Monkees strayed from controversy. Why?

Jones:  The world was changing, and they were trying to hide the fact that it was. We were told never to talk about politics, never to talk about the war and never to talk about the marches. If I've got any regret whatsoever, it's that I didn't march to Washington with everybody when they did have the civil rights march.”
If what Davy Jones said is true, and we have no reason to doubt him, then we can assume that all four of the band members kept their opinions to themselves for the sake of their careers.  But at least one Monkee, Davy, wished that things had been different...that maybe if he had had more of a voice during a time when so much change was going on in the world and in America that he would not have had that regret.  Wonder if any of the other band members felt that way?

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