In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about songs we loved from our first favorite bands.
I’m not entirely sure why MTV and Nickelodeon got behind The Monkees in the mid-’80s. Maybe it had something to do with Mike Nesmith’s tangential relation to MTV’s actual existence. Whatever the reason, I’ll always be grateful to those Viacom properties for picking up the band’s short-lived TV series and running the shit out of it, because, as a 5- or 6-year-old kid, I loved it. They had a wacky house! And a silly car! And their jokes were all things I could kind of understand and felt good about getting. Plus, Davy Jones was just so fun and dreamy.
My parents must have told me they had some old Monkees records laying around, because I started playing them constantly, and while I liked “Last Train To Clarksville” and “Daydream Believer,” I was really into “Your Auntie Grizelda.” Off 1967’s More Of The Monkees, the novelty song was the first to feature the group’s lovable hippie Peter Tork on lead vocals. While Tork’s tune-carrying ability leaves a little to be desired, he brings a madcap insanity to the slightly psychedelic track that, again, 6-year-old me was crazy into. Plus, the song’s about a lady named “Grizelda,” which I thought was just great.
Fortunately for my sanity and self-esteem, I still like “Your Auntie Grizelda” a lot. It’s the perfect blend of weird, funny, and tuneful, and I can see a lot of what I liked about it in a lot of the music I like today. Tork and the other Monkees weren’t taking themselves too seriously. They were having fun, getting paid, and being at least a little enthusiastic about what they were doing, and that came through in the tracks. I still value the same stuff when I see bands or listen to records, and I have The Monkees to thank for that.