I’ve not heard of Mayer Hawthorne before today. But to be honest working down in the Retroist Vault means I’m surrounded by about 100 years of retro culture. I find I have no real need to venture up to the surface. Which is the only way I can explain to you how I missed Mayer Hawthorne’s song entitled Dreaming as well as his 2011 album, How Do You Do.
In addition to missing Mayer Hawthorne’s album, not to mention Dreaming of course. I also had no idea that he had a music video for it. An absolutely astounding piece of work by Ross Harris featuring Showbiz Pizza’s The Rock-afire Explosion!
I’m not ashamed to admit that many joyful tears started to fill these old eyes watching this video. Not only that, friends. But the video also sneaks in some vintage swag from Showbiz Pizza in regards to the one and only Billy Bob Brockali.
Having pointed that out – Mayer Hawthorne’s video for Dreaming. Also includes the likes of Fatz Geronimo, Mitzi Mozzarella, Beach Bear, Looney Bird, Rolfe DeWolfe and Earl Schemerle, and of course Dook LaRue. Who I must say appears to have an admirer in the video.
For my first Mayer Hawthorne song, I cannot think of a better way to hook me. Granted the song itself is fantastic – has kind of an Electric Light Orchestra vibe to it. Furthermore I think it’s safe to say that Mayer must have been a Showbiz Pizza kid too. There is just too much love shown for the characters of The Rock-afire Explosion for this not to be the case.
I was a lot like most teenagers growing up, basically. Well, not really. Since I was in kindergarten I worshiped at the alter of Star Wars, and enjoyed the music of Queen the The Police. I’d be lying if I said I fit in, I didn’t have any of the same interests as kids my age. I was always an old soul, and my teachers loved that they could talk music with me. Everything changed when a new man came into my life. The funny part is, this man entered many, many girls lives before mine. I was watching tv one morning when I stumbled across The Monkees show on the Screen Gems Network. I had yet to see this show although I had heard of The Monkees. I became an instant fan.
It might as well have been the 60’s in my head, because I was going into complete fan mode. I wanted to get my hands on anything Monkees related I could find. Especially if it had Davy on it. Davy Jones was the first “real” crush I ever had. I caught a lot of flack for that, because I was in my early teens dreaming about a fan who was in his 50’s…but to be fair, I was thinking about the younger version. He was cute, funny, non-theatening (maybe because hes short?), and the accent didn’t hurt anything either.
My Monkees poster from back in the day.
For some reason all my life I’ve gotten teased a lot for my old school interests. Even by my own parents, who loved to remind me this band was popular when they were kids. That may be true, but I never understood the inclusion some folks feel. I always thought I had better taste than all the other kids my age and they should be pleased I’m not playing rap or repetitive pop. I was being swept up in one of many Monkees revivals. Whenever the TV show would go back on the air The Monkees experienced a surge in new fans. It was a good time to be a Monkees fan, though I still wished it were the 60’s! I was in total obsessed fan mode, at that point in time, and for a couple of years…my world was The Monkees and The Beatles.
From my Monkees scrap book.
I think most of us remember “the day we grew up” and mine was right around this time. It was a morning like any other, I was at school waiting around between classes with a couple of friends. Suddenly from the boys bathroom came multiple gun shots. At first I thought it was someone popping inflated plastic bags which wasn’t a-typical for teenage boys to do at break. But pretty quickly I realized that this was serious. I ran, didn’t think, just ran which was undoubtedly what saved my life. I just experienced a school shooting, in a normal suburban school. Two of my friends were shot, and a classmate of mine was killed. I didn’t know how to cope, neither did my parents and neither did the school.
This was when I learned a very powerful lesson, not that I was mortal (I already knew that) but that music was my savior. Sometimes burying ourselves in our obsessions can be what gives up the armor to get through it. When this event happened, all of the people around me didn’t know how to cope, and our community struggled. A lot of parents got scared and moved out of town, including my best friend. I immersed myself in music, and listened to more Monkees than before. I played “Daydream Believer” a lot because it was the only thing that made me feel happy. I felt like at that point in time when I needed emotional guidance…I was on my own. Focusing on music kept me sane and happy. It has remained my number one passion and interest since then. Rock and roll has got me through some hard times, and it touched me and gave me strength. Only months later, I was able to win some Monkees concert tickets from an oldies radio station. This seemed like my saving grace. I finally had something awesome to look forward to.
I brought my best friend and we showed up early, and I had earned enough money to buy a shirt and other merchandise. It was my first concert and I was very excited and nervous. My best Monkee friend and I (she liked Peter) had great front seats at the San Diego Civic Center. It was the happiest I had been in what felt like a long time. And it only got better. Davy, Micky, and Peter Monkee-walked on stage and did an awesome show. At one point they each performed some of their solo work. The moment I heard some familiar Davy solo piano I went to the front of the stage like I was possessed or commanded to do so. Davy Jones began to sing “Girl” and he reached for my hand. He serenaded “Girl” to me, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I didn’t wash that hand for a couple of days before I realized that never washing it again was unrealistic.
My Monkees tickets.
That experience made me a concert junkie, I purchased a pair of Monkees tickets with my best friend so we could make that happen again. Objective: Get to the front of the stage and or meet The Monkees! I eventually got to meet them briefly and then meet Peter Tork two times after that. We had already had a lot of fun Monkee related adventures so far. When we discovered The Monkees not long after we found out they had made a movie. We made it our mission to find this video and hunted it down at almost every movie rental place. To our dismay, most rental stores didn’t have the movie because it was an old cult movie. It was fun going into Blockbuster and asking for Head. It took me a couple of times to doing it before I could stop blushing at the word and it’s implications. We got one of our parents to drive us to LA where we saw our second Monkees show. Around this time I changed my name and realized I had found my place in the world. Music was my life I began to go to concerts and connect with other like minded people.
Fast forward to February 29th 2012, the day Davy Jones ended up passing away. Not only was it sad to lose him, but it was also odd to see a such a surge in new Monkees fans. Everyone was coming out of the wood works claiming to have loved the Monkees. Their songs are great, they deserve all this credit. Where have I seen this before? Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, just in recent memory. I found it particularly odd because the Monkees were constantly being accused of being a “fake band.” A lot of people love to bring up the fact that they didn’t play their own instruments. #1 They actually could play but weren’t allowed to at first due to pushy management, but did on their 3rd album (“Headquarters”). #2 It’s very hypocritical in this day and age to be judgmental of that fact when 90% of the artists we hear on the radio don’t play any instruments. I’m pretty sure their instrument is a computer.
The Monkees greatest hits started topping the iTunes charts suddenly. And Monkees album sales overall spiked. When singers die they often times get even more famous and oddly enough…reach more people. A bulk of the new Monkees fans are young people between the ages of 14 and 16, and the same age I was when I became a fan. It is incredibly easy for young people to find and be exposed to music because of the internet. I remember being a kid and having to either look it up in a book or call the local radio station. This is back when radio DJ’s knew music and had some sort of authority.
Now you just Google it. Folks now a days have no excuses when it comes to getting the lyrics of songs hysterically wrong. Google solves everything. I have found that despite what baby boomers think the bulk of the retro music fans these days are young people. Obviously that is largely due to the internet and how news spreads through social media sites. It is a weird thing to become a fan after hearing about them because a member of the band died. I’ve seen a lot of rock stars I love die in my life; Joey Ramone, George Harrison, John Entwhistle, Dee Dee…then Johnny Ramone. It’s a rough way to start off as a fan because you are automatically mourning the death while celebrating the music. I guess that is kind of what I was doing when the incident at my school happened.
Part of why I love retro things is because of the nostalgia it incites. Music makes a lot of people happy, particularly music from the 60’s to 70’s (and 80’s to some). The Monkees music has made me happy for many years now. I’ve gotten a lot of great laughs, and enjoyed a lot of songs, even the off beat ones like “Shorty Blackwell.” It’s sad to see it stop by Davy’s death, but I know I will never forget my first crush let alone my first favorite band.