I was four years old when I fell in love with Davy Jones. He had been around for a few years by then (the Monkees were born the same year I was), but that’s when I discovered him.
Afternoons, while my sisters were at school, my mother played Burt Bacharach and Henry Mancini albums. I crooned along to “The Look of Love” and “Moon River” while she ironed or vacuumed or sewed at the dining room table.
At some point, among the other records, I found the More of the Monkees, property of my sisters, (then a worldly 8 and 10 years old, respectively). It was probably my first exposure to pop music, and I was hooked from the get go.
Inexplicably, my favorite song was not “I’m a Believer,” but the far more psychedelic “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone.” I had no idea what the lyrics meant, but I loved the vocals, the organ, and the crescendo to the finale, where Mickey Dolenz just lets it rip. My second favorite was “Auntie Grizelda,” which is, in retropect, a pretty stupid song unless you’re four years old, in which case the chorus of nonsense and raspberries is musical gold. My twin brother and I would crank it up, sing along, and collapse into giggles during the chorus every single time.
Even though he didn’t do most of the vocals or any of the writing, I soon fell in love with Davy Jones, first from whence he gazed at me from the album cover, and later from the television, when the show was in Saturday morning reruns. His accent might have had something to do with it, but mostly, it was his size. He was little and cute, and that was enough for me. And he had the disposition of a Jack Russel. Perhaps at my latent stage of development, his puppy-like sweetness and diminutive size felt safe; he was the only one in the band who seemed more like a playmate than a man. And I loved him.
The pinnacle of pop culture for every girl my age (I was six by then) was the convergence of the two kitchiest phenomena of the era: when Davy appeared on The Brady Bunch and asked Marcia to the prom. It was the consummation devoutly to be wished. Sigh and sigh again. “I’ll never wash my cheek again” indeed.
I’m pretty sure I was over Davy by my seventh birthday, and from then on was never much of a teenybopper. I did not care for Shawn Cassidy or Leif Garrett or the rest of the Tiger Beat gang. But I always clung to my fondness for the Monkees, listening to them with my high school friends and waxing nostalgic about the time so very long ago when we had loved Davy Jones.
In my ripe old twenties, I met him. My freshly minted husband and I were in Memphis for a wedding, and met up with a college pal in a Beale Street piano bar. It was noisy and raucus. It was late, and we’d had a few. I don’t remember who saw him first, but he was there, sitting at the bar with his back to us. And he was tiny--smaller and shorter than I was, a completely normal looking guy having a beer, and by all indications, alone.
A lifelong Midwesterner, I have very little experience with celebrity sightings, but I was emboldened by beer and the urging of my husband and our friend, who nudged me in his general direction until I was practically on top of him.
“You’re Davy Jones!” I said moronically. “I was madly in love with you when I was five!”
Much to his credit, he was gracious, even though I was yelling in his face and acting like a complete ass. He autographed my husband’s business card (we were grownups now, business cars and all) and I carried it around in my wallet for years. “To Kate, with Love from Davy Jones.” Every now and then I’d pull it out at a cocktail party or bar, when the conversation turned to nostalgia or the 70s, or the Brady Bunch, or the Monkees.
I learned of Davy’s death today in an email from my brother: the one who danced in the living room with me when we were four, a lifetime ago. I’ve had an urge all day to look for that card. I know I have it somewhere still--likely in one of the Rubbermaid tubs in the basement, where I store things I cannot part with: programs and invitations and pictures and Playbills.
And Davy Jones’ autograph.