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I don’t know what you thought when you heard Davy Jones died last week. Probably depends on your age. If you’re under 30, you never heard of him. If you’re in your 30’s, your mother had a crush on him. If you’re my age you felt older than you were before you heard the news. Like someone blew out another flame on the candles of your youth when you weren’t looking.

In the movie City Slickers, Curly (Jack Palance) and Mitch (Billy Crystal) are walking their horses, herding cattle.

  • Abruptly, Curly says, “You know what the secret of life is?”
  • Mitch says, “No, what?”
    Curly holds up his index finger and says, “This.”
  • “Your finger?”
  • Curly says, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.”
  • Mitch says, “That’s great, but…what’s the one thing?”
  • With a twinkle in his eyes, Curly says, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out!”

I couldn’t have told you what that scene meant in 1991 when it was filmed. I was stupid back then, suffering from youthful arrogance. Now I’m closing in on Curly’s age, old and experienced enough to know the “one thing” he spoke about doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. Your “one thing” and mine are probably different. But Davy Jones knew his “one thing,” and his and mine are the same.

I hadn’t thought about Davy in years, except when Daydream Believer played on the radio. I was never a huge Monkees fan, though I did pay to see them perform once, at the height of their popularity. I was more into the Beatles, Stones, Animals, and Blood, Sweat & Tears, but I bought their first album and will admit to liking I Wanna Be Free, sung by…Davy Jones.

Before you give me any crap about teeny bopper music or how “uncool” the Monkees were, or how they were a “made up” band, consider this:

  • Jimi Hendrix opened for them in concert. Jimi flippin’ Hendrix!
  • The Monkees are the only band in music history to have four top 10 albums in the same year!

Davy Jones knew Curly’s “one thing” secret of life. For him (and me) it’s this:

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

When you take yourself too seriously, you miss the joy life tries to send you each day.

Davy’s ego didn’t require him to impress people. He was content to entertain them, perfectly happy in his role of teen idol and member of a made-for-TV band. Unlike his bandmates, he never trash-talked the Monkees or their music, never demanded to be taken seriously as a musician.

It didn’t bother him there were technically better singers in the world. He knew what his fans liked, and did his best to deliver. By all accounts he was a happy person who lived a happy life. Three weeks ago he performed at a casino, and a middle-aged lady asked if he’d pose for a photo. The first two came out blurry, so he graciously posed a third time. That may not seem like a big deal, but can you picture Amy Winehouse or Michael Jackson doing it?

You never read about Davy Jones suffering from depression, drug, or alcohol abuse like so many other teenage stars who stopped being popular. He never had a bad word for others, never turned bitter. He was always proud of who he was. Last year his young wife asked if he’d like to run upstairs and make love. Davy said, “At my age it will have to be one or the other!”

He just wanted to entertain you, wanted to make you smile.

I get that.

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Janice Lane Palko
Great post. I'm 52 and Davy was my favorite Monkey when I was a pre-teen, and you are right. I believe he appealed to us because he never took himself seriously. Even at that young age, I knew this was just good fun, and I knew that Jones knew that too. There's a lot to be said for merely making people smile and feel happy.
Roland Yeomans
Don’t take yourself too seriously. That is a good "one thing." I always got that from Davy Jones but I also picked up that while he didn't take himself too serious, he took seriously his music and his fans. Isn't that what it all comes down to? To laugh at ourselves and feel for others. Another insightful post, John. High sales! Roland
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Janice! To me, that's the very definition of entertainment. Thanks for responding.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Roland! I agree. Best wishes!
Bob Ray
Bob Ray says:
Lovely blog, John. Such a tender way to look at it. I remember the Monkeys and I loved their show and their young music. Loved Curley too. Good connection there.
Carolyn Magura
THANKS for this reminder, John. I'm with you in the remembering. Having lived int the San Francisco Bay Area during the 60's and early 70's, we had our fill of music, but the Monkeys played their part in that era. BTW: I own and have DEVOURED all of your books. THANK YOU, and please keep writing.
Gerry McCullough
I had missed the news about Davy Jones' death, so this was my first info about it. Like you, John, I found it a real shock. The Monkees must have been longer ago than I realised. I still love Daydream believer, and I'm a Believer is one of my favourite songs (It is by the Monkees, too, isn't it? Or am I getting mixed up?) Thanks for the post. Gerry McCullough (author of Belfast Girls and Danger Danger).
Kevin Udy
Kevin Udy says:
Yup, I could agree with everything you said, although I didn't really know anything about the man. From what you say, he sounds like a lovely guy. I too wasn't a fan, but as a youngster did watch the Monkeys on the TV most weeks, and, it seems, not all THAT many years ago...... Likewise in hearing of his passing I also heard a well-oiled clunk as time's wheel slipped forward yet another notch on it's way towards marking the inevitable. Pretty sure I heard the mainspring faintly twang from the strain too…... More and more, I think to myself..... SURELY I can't be this bleddy old...... {:o* Loved your post, and your writing too. Kevin. {:o)
Susan Case
Susan Case says:
What a lovely tribute - from someone who enjoyed the Monkeys for their sweetness and comedy. Even their music was upbeat. I hear you about the Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan, Chicago - perhaps they were better bands and singers - but the Monkeys always made you smile and feel happy - took you away from your troubles because of their silliness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are such a great writer - getting at the emotional side of life.
Robert MacLean (@robertmaclean)
Wow, John, it's good to hear from someone as old as I am!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Bob! I played in several bands during that time, and most of my band mates ridiculed the teenage heart throbs like Davy Jones and others. They weren't "cool" like us, they said. My attitude was, "Those guys are on the big stage, touring with the most famous musicians and artists in the world. Tell me again why we're so cool playing in beer joints twice a week?"
John Locke
John Locke says:
Carolyn, that's wonderful! Thank you for telling me that! I just started writing again Monday, after a ten-week delay. I'll let you know when the next one is ready. Best wishes!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Gerry, Yup, that's the same band. I'm not an expert on the Monkees, in fact, I spelled the band's name wrong when I first published this article (special thanks to those who emailed me with the correct spelling!) but I appreciate anyone who makes an impact, and they certainly did.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Kevin, I know, right? It's crazy. I remember when I was the youngest at everything I did. Now I seem to be the oldest! Best wishes!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Susan! Of course, I can relate to Davy Jones because I don't try to write the type of literature kids will have to study in summer school some day. I, too, just want to make people smile and forget their troubles for a few hours when they need it most. Have a happy day, and thanks for writing!
John Locke
John Locke says:
Hi Robert! Don't tell people you're my age. You look young enough to be my grandson! Nice to hear from you. Congrats on your books!
Mary Lou Newcomb
Mary Lou Newcomb says:
Your comments about Davy Jones were so true. I was a big fan of the Monkees growing up and I loved their TV show. It was funny and always had good music. It never occured to me that they were not true musicians. They were true for me. By the way, John, I REALLY need more Emmett and Gentry!! I hope that might be on your "to write" list. You are a brilliant author!!
Shane McNeill
Shane McNeill says:
I had two deaths last week that hit me hard, and made me appreciate not only my life but my family all the more. I'm still in a funk over both of them. I'm 48 and saw the Monkees without Nesmith (which was a good thing) on a dual-bill with the Beach Boys in Philadelphia in 1985 about. Great show bc they wanted to put on a great show. Peter Noone gave a good eulogy for Jones on a radio station last week having toured with him extensively, and just recently in North Dakota where Davy walked onstage in drag while Peter sang "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter." I didn't know either of the fellows who passed, but I didn't have to. They shined a good light. You can have yourself a good life, while not suffering fools (not good people who ask a little something of you, but people who mean others harm) gladly and still look out for the little guy. Every day I try and do all three, and I sleep very well at night. Live a large life -for yourself and for others if possible.
Jeanne Miller
It is funny, but a few weeks ago, I suddenly wanted to hear some Monkees music. Especially Early Morning Blues and Greens, which for some reason kept playing in my head. I loved Davy's voice. This news was so sad and made me feel like little pieces of the background of my life, are just crumbling away. I'm happy to know that so many of you had such fond memories of this time period, too. Great post! Thank you, John.
Davy Jones Knew Curly's Secret | Kilburn Hall’s Weblog
[...] on March 6, 2012 by John Locke Re-posted on March 7, 2012 by Kilburn [...]
Fred Gratto
Fred Gratto says:
Janice, you mentioned listening to the Monkees when you were young. Just thinking about those days probably made you feel young again, even it was for just a few moments. Music can do that. It's like a time machine. Consider the song OHIO by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, for instance. Whenever I hear it I am reminded of 1970 and students at Kent State University protesting the Vietnam War. We can easily recall the fact that four of them were killed by the National Guard. While hanging on the words of that tune, for a few minutes in my mind, I'm young again and recalling what it felt like to be a college freshman. What a great treat, for free.
daniel
daniel says:
i am sad to read of Davy Jones's passing. i wish i could read something from him.
John Locke
John Locke says:
Thanks Mary Lou! I know Davy would be pleased to know he brought you some happiness. As for my westerns, if only we could get that word spread. I have to beg people to try them because everyone says "I DON'T LIKE WESTERNS!" I tell them these are different. But all they hear is "Westerns!" In the end, it's like "Green Eggs & Ham," and everyone loves Emmett Love. But it's such a BATTLE! :-)
John Locke
John Locke says:
Very well said, Shane. Thanks for posting these sentiments.
John Locke
John Locke says:
I don't know that tune, but I'll check it out in a few minutes. Thanks for the heads up!
Cindi
Cindi says:
When I hear those songs I always think of skipping. While the knees aren't skip-worthy any more, I can still get the feeling. BTW- I put off reading your western series because I'm not a big fan of westerns. Boy, did I almost miss out. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Your books are definitely skip-worthy.
S. D. Miller
S. D. Miller says:
Just finished your "How I Sold..." e-book and as the final act I had to click on the very last link. #1: I get it (your book). #2: I wish I'd written this blog--awesome. #3: a little story about nostalgia. It was a summer afternoon back in 2002 and I was walking from the car rental place toward car dealer row, about a two miles. My old car had failed and I rented for a few days while I picked something out. Checkbook in my pocket I was on my way to pick up my new wheels. It was a beautiful day and I felt like walking. As I crossed Colorado Ave. someone drove by in a convertible, top down and stereo going. It was the Youngbloods' "Get Together". Made me smile. I ended up singing the rest of the way to the dealership--at least the lyrics I remembered (hummed the rest). On the way I spotted a little shop selling handmade tie-dye T-shirts. The shop was run by a young couple, and an older woman about my age was shopping. I shared my story and the two of us tried our best to sing "Get Together", which left the young couple grinning. Of course I had to buy a shirt: blue peace sign on the back and a heart of gold on the front. Love is but a song we'll sing, fears that we will die. You can make the mountains ring, or make the angels cry. Though the bird is on the wing, and you may not know why. Come on people now, smile on your brother, Everybody get together, try to love one another right now. Good stuff. BTW, remember the Monkees' car? Had to Google for a photo. Hope the link works: http://www.pbase.com/triciawildflower/image/99675694 (not my site) And, John, thanks.
Vegas Linda Lou
Fantastic post! I LOVED Davy Jones and like millions of others, mourn his passing along with a bit of my childhood. You're right--he didn't take himself too seriously. I saw him perform in Las Vegas in 2003 and he still had the same lighthearted approach. And most important: he was still having FUN!
Gordon Kessler
Great blog post, John! Many of my friends called this kind of music "bubblegum," but I was into the Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders (featuring Mark Lindsay, of course), Herman's Hermits, the Cowsills, even Peter, Paul & Mary (Puff the Magic Dragon was my first 45)--should I go on? When you get news like that, a piece of your childhood does die. It hurts. But we go on with some terrific memories that younger generations will never understand. The Monkees TV show was madcap fun, and I couldn't wait to get in front of my television when I got home from school. Their Monkeemobile GTO and Monkee's beach pad are permanently ingrained in my mind. Thanks for the memories, John! Keep up the great work with your Donovan Creed novels. And bless you for your book HISAMEI5M! I just finished rereading it! By the way, I found my "one thing" and it's very similar to yours.
John DuMond
John DuMond says:
Great post, Mr. Locke. And a very good life lesson. A lesson I wished I had learned a few decades sooner.
Isaac Juarez
Isaac Juarez says:
Well, I'm 25, young enough to have seen and remembered at least a handful of the Monkees episodes on Nick At Night and young enough to have remembered Davy Jones making a cameo in the Brady Bunch movie that came out in the 90s. He seemed like a nice guy. I also remember watching City Slickers (and its subpar sequel) but not fully understanding most of the themes in the movie including what Curly was talking about. I hope I can figure out my "one thing" before I get too old.
Gordon Kessler
John, Add to my earlier post, the praise I forgot to give you. I know you're making money off of your book for indie authors: HISAMEI5M! Still, your blog posts seem heartfelt and genuine, and when you write about ePublishing and indie writers, you come across as someone who really cares. That's rare--especially in this new eWorld in which we live. After studying your books (including your novels) and your blog, as well as a few other eBook pioneers' work, I think I know my "one thing", and I feel I'm going in the right direction in the way of getting as many of my novels in readers hands. Thanks so much for your guideance. I've mentioned you in my blog post "Your EBook Sales in the Tank! There's Hope!" at: http://gordonkessler.com/2012/04/01/your-ebook-sales-in-the-tank-theres-hope-8/comment-page-1/#comment-117 and I'd certainly love it if you could stop by--especially if you could make a comment. Continued success to you and those like you--cutting the way through a jungle of darkness!
C R Myers
C R Myers says:
Bravo! I loved the Monkeys, and had all their albums. In the last one, their music showed a lot of innovation. I think they grew into their bandhood. :p Who wrote that? What I meant to say was I'm way too young to remember the Monkeys, but saw them on the Biography Channel and re-runs on Nick. :D Loved the blog! Now, get back to work on those novels! Cat
Virginia Wright
First, I wanted to mention that I recently bought your ebook, HOW I SOLD 1 MILLION eBOOKS   IN 5 MONTHS! I've learned so much from you through reading your book. I thank you for that. I've written three children's books, and one non-fiction book for older aged children. The non-fiction has been on the Kindle Top 100 Paid Bestsellers list in Children's Bugs & Spiders Books for 1 year consistently --but...I still aspire to 1 MILLION eBooks sold-- :-) You truly are an inspiration to fledgling writers-- Your article about Davy Jones was well written. I always thought he was the "Cutest" Monkee! Best, -Virginia Wright
MaryB
MaryB says:
Hi John, Read your book Wish List this week. After all your banter "that I just want to entertain my audience", that your writing wasn't great, well actually, it was certainly much better than " just " entertaining. When you can keep your reader's attention, to the point that it is hard to put the book down, whereby a mental movie plays as one reads the story, and then after reading the book you catch yourself thinking about it afterwords,- that is a very good indicator of a really good book. I kept having a nagging feeling that the flavor of this book reminded me of something.... finally realized it had the energy and feel of one of my all time favorite movies: The Usual Suspects. Thanks for a fun and entertaining book.
A. C. Ellis
A. C. Ellis says:
John: I'll be 65 on July 4, and I know just what you mean. Great post! Al A. C. Ellis http://amzn.to/t4yI6H
Lake
Lake says:
That's a great 1 thing. I'm 32 and growing up they played 50-60s music on our oldies94.1 radio station. Even 6+ yrs ago when I left for military service they played 50-60s now it says 60-70s and more. Love being able to hear some of that on radio, but I disagree that it is OLDIES! Loving your how I sold 100000000 books in 5 months.
Lake
Lake says:
That's a great 1 thing. I'm 32 and growing up they played 50-60s music on our oldies94.1 radio station. Even 6+ yrs ago when I left for military service they played 50-60s now it says 60-70s and more. Love being able to hear some of that on radio, but I disagree that it is OLDIES! Loving your how I sold 100000000 books in 5 months.
Lake
Lake says:
Thanks for review. I'm reading right now. It rocks. Hoping works for my wife too.
Lake
Lake says:
Thanks for review. I'm reading right now. It rocks. Hoping works for my wife too.
Janet Green
Janet Green says:
Stick to one thing, do that well, and everything else don't mean shit. Beautiful. Hadn't thought about that line for a long time, and you're right, it actually means something to me today. Like, it's affirming. Because that's what I do. However, that one thing changes for me, every 5-10 years or so. And that's what colors my world. Keep it comin', Jan
J.D. Gallagher
Davy Jones and the Monkee’s were well before my time, but I remember being a kid in ’94 I think and Irish boyband Boyzone had a number one hit with a cover of The Osmonds Love Me For A Reason, it was absolutely everywhere over here (Ireland that is) and eventually a well used and worn cassette of the single ended up in my hands and eventually in my stereo, the B side to the cassette was Daydream Believer, which I thought was much better than the A side, my mother heard me listening to it and said; I remember Davy Jones signing that. I had no idea who he or the Monkees were and was quickly put right by my mother, this post brought back memories, thanks.
J.D. Gallagher
Davy Jones and the Monkee’s were well before my time, but I remember being a kid in ’94 I think and Irish boyband Boyzone had a number one hit with a version of The Osmonds Love Me For A Reason, it was absolutely everywhere over here (Ireland that is) and eventually a well used and worn cassette of the single ended up in my hands and eventually in my stereo, the B side to the cassette was Daydream Believer, which I thought was much better than the A side, my mother heard me listening to it and said; I remember Davy Jones singing that. I had no idea who he or the Monkees were and was quickly put right by mother, this post brought back memories, thanks.