Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Monkees and history

LATELY I'VE BEEN digging The Monkees. It's an utterly fascinating story, four actors cast into a 1960s TV show, lip-syncing one great song after another. The band members didn't play much on the first monster records, but later morphed into creative musicians, and they are still out there, the ones that are left.

I'm using "Last Train To Clarksville" in lessons. Geesh, how come it took me all these years to realize this is a thing of genius? It rolls off the G octave in the riff and the inversions are maddening. It's no surprise the California-based Wrecking Crew played on much of the Monkees music.

The best part is when a younger person gets a charge from a song that is 52 years old. FIFTY TWO. Almost as old as me, and that's pretty bleeping old.

One of my young ukulele students learned it yesterday and said it was "pretty cool," and you can't get much better than that. She asked what the song was about, which led to a short conversation about when it was written, what the country was going through at the time, and the fact it was about a soldier about to embark to Vietnam. "And I don't know if I'm ever coming home ...." It's just a catchy pop song, but it's poignant and the student was fascinated.

Who knew a Monkees song could be used in guitar lessons and to teach history?

It's yet another powerful example of how great music is timeless.

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