By June Mathews
While browsing around a hotel gift shop in Nashville one evening about a month ago, I spotted three jeans-clad, tiara-wearing women strolling through the lobby. I alerted my traveling companions, Verna and Dana, and the three of us inquisitive (some would say, “nosy”) journalists hurried after the rhinestoned trio, intending to get the scoop on their bling.
We called out for the ladies to please hold the elevator, causing one of them to selflessly risk some fingers by sticking a hand between the closing doors. As we stepped aboard, we wasted no time with formalities.
“What gives with the tiaras?” one of us asked.
“We’re daydream believers and homecoming queens,” one of them replied with a royal air.
She had barely gotten the words out of her mouth before the rest of us squealed like little girls at a Justin Bieber concert.
For those of you totally mystified as to why our inner preteens bubbled so readily to the surface, let me explain: We had all been to a Monkees concert earlier that evening.
To ladies of a certain age, the Monkees were once Bieber times four. We each had our favorite (Peter was mine), and we knew all the words to their songs. Their albums spun endlessly on the record players in our rooms, and we owned every piece of Monkee-fied merchandise we could convince our parents to buy for us.
And for those of you who have no clue as to the connection between a Monkees concert and our elevators friends’ bejeweled brows: “Daydream believer and homecoming queen” is a recurring phrase in a song recorded by the group in 1967.
Nearly 50 years after the Monkees came “walking down the street” and into our hearts during the opening credits of the quirky comedy show that cemented their fame, the foursome’s appeal remains strong. And not just among their original fans.
Thanks to YouTube and a recurring series of reunion concerts by the remaining three Monkees (Davy Jones succumbed to heart failure last year), a new generation of fans has arisen, and it’s fun to watch them enjoying the Monkees in the silly ways we once did. Verna, Dana and I were seated next to a couple of those young fans during the Nashville concert, and they were almost as entertaining as the show we’d paid 80 bucks apiece to see.
At the same time, we found it a bit disconcerting to watch 18-year-olds screaming, clapping, swaying and even shedding a few tears in an over-emotional response to the performance of three guys in their 70s. I mean, really, the Monkees are easily old enough to be those girls’ grandfathers.
And to me, that was the sad thing. It seems that while we original fans have been growing older over the past five decades, so have the Monkees. Their speaking voices were raspy with age, and their movements looked more like those of shuffling old men than actual dance steps.
But they still sang the songs of my preteen years with as much vim and vitality as ever and in the singing, turned my 50-something heart into that of an adoring 10-year-old again. As the years go by, I’m ever more grateful for those youthful moments.
So if you ever see me walking through the grocery store or standing in line at the post office while wearing a tiara, you’ll know I’ve temporarily retreated to a time when a Monkees song was all it took to make life wonderful.
I’ve never actually been a queen, homecoming or otherwise, but I’ve always been a daydreamer. And in my daydreams, I’m The Queen of 1960s Preteens with a permanent front-row seat at all the Monkees’ concerts.