Thursday, March 1, 2012

What Am I Doing Hanging 'Round? I Should Be On The Last Train to Clarksville, But I Will Always Love You

The entertainment world recently lost two of it's bigger names. Diva Whitney Houston passed away at age 48 on February 11, the eve of the Grammy Awards. Her death spawned a lot of controversy; questions about whether or not drugs were involved as has been the case of many people of all walks of life. February 29, a day that comes only every fourth year, saw the reporting of the death of Davy Jones, a singer in the '60s group The Monkees. Davy Jones died of a heart attack at age 66.

Because of the curiosity surrounding Houston's death, the outpouring of tributes at her passing stirred up a lot of negativity in the social media. Some said her death did not deserve such attention because of her troubled past; she put herself through drug and substance abuse. (NOTE: Coroner's reports, autopsy and toxicology results have since ruled her death to be accidental.) Others said that our soldiers lay their lives on the line every day to in the name of freedom; when one dies in the line of duty there is no nationwide outpouring of sentiment for the fallen soldier. So far, no such backlash over Davy Jones' visit to the locker that bears his name, although it's still early.

Davy Jones was one of a plethora of heartthrobs when I was in my teens, not unlike Frank Sinatra in my parents' generation, or Justin Timberlake to teens of the late 1990s or early 2000s.The Monkees were a band fabricated to be a television spoof of The Beatles, and the show's scripts were campy send-ups to scenes from A Hard Day's Night. As it turns out, talent was spread pretty evenly between Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith. Over the course of the show's run on television, all of them were able to showcase their own talent. Jones and Dolenz provided most of the lead vocals, and probably had most of the appeal. But it was Davy, with that British accent, that seemed to steal the hearts of many teen girls.

I admit to liking the musical styles of both. More to the point, I like the songs they sung. Even further, neither Whitney Houston nor any of the Monkees wrote any of their hit songs (with the exception of Mike Nesmith, whose songwriting was not as ear-catching to me as other Monkee hits). The Monkees' first hit, I'm A Believer,  was a cover of a Neil Diamond song. I'll remember Whitney Houston best for her cover of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You - a song I've reflected on elsewhere among the musings of this blog. I can croon Daydream Believer and Saving All My Love For You with the same sense of joy and delight.

The men and women of our country who die in its service are not to be forgotten by any means. To compare the outpouring of tribute at their passage to someone of the stature of Houston or Jones is an apple vs. orange comparison. All deserve to have their lives remembered for the good they did while among us. Having said that, it's our place as individuals among the living to put these people and events in perspective. Do we seek to promote freedom - true freedom - in the simple acts of daily life, or does freedom mean being entertained while someone else does the work?

I wanna be free
Like the warm September wind, babe,
Say you'll always be my friend, babe.
We can make it to the end, babe,
Again, babe, I gotta say:
I wanna be free 

 --I Wanna Be Free (1966)
 written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart; performed by The Monkees - solo by Davy Jones (1945-2012)

Didn't we almost have it all
When love was all we had worth giving
The ride with you was worth the fall my friend
Loving you makes life worth living

Didn't we almost have it all
The nights we held on till the morning
You know you'll never love that way again
Didn't we almost have it all

 --Didn't We Almost Have It All (1987)
 written by Michael Masser and Will Jennings; performed by Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

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