Back with a bit more from my conversation with Davy Jones from last summer’s TCA tour. I’m knee-deep in deadlines, so it won’t be a whole lot more right this second, but I don’t want to lose my momentum by letting too much time pass between these segments.
After asking Davy about his work in Oliver!, I decided to ask him about the trio of singles he released in the brief window between being on Broadway and being in the Monkees: “Dream Girl,” “What Are We Going to Do?,” and “The Girl from Chelsea.”
“That came straight after The Ed Sullivan Show,” said Jones. “I said, ‘Let’s go into the recording studio and record some stuff,’ and they said, ‘Fantastic!’ So they took me into the studio, and the pianist from Oliver! played the demo tape of me doing…”
At this, Jones sang the opening lines from a Bobby Darin number (“More than the greatest love the world has ever known”), then switched gears and began to channel his inner Sondheim (“Maria, I just met a girl named Maria”). I know you can find his version of the former (“More”) on a self-released collection of early material entitled Just for the Record, but I’ll be damned if I can find any trace of a recorded version of “Maria.” If anyone’s ever actually heard it, do let me know, won’t you?
Sorry, sorry, I know: less me, more Davy. Moving on…
Jones said that he went into the studio, cut enough songs to fill an album, including “Put Me Amongst the Girls,” which his father specifically asked him to tackle, and, you may be surprised to learn, a version of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”
“I was dating a girl at the time, a girl named Eileen,” said Jones. “We (the Monkees) just played the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, and would you believe it? I saw her for the first time in 45 years. She walked in the door, and she just smiles and says, ‘David.’ It was Eileen. We hugged. She’s married, she’s got a daughter, and both her husband and daughter were there, along with her daughter’s boyfriend. We spent 45 minutes together. I wasn’t in the meet-and-greet that night, I can tell you. I wasn’t out there shaking hands with all the people. I just sat in the dressing room with Eileen and her family, because that was a really touching time in my life, you know?”
Jones hesitated, then straightened up in his chair, shaking off a bit of the emotion he’d been drifting into. “You know, in this business, you’ve really got to go off and go sell yourself,” he said, adding with a smile and a sigh, “I’m getting ready to sell myself now. Because I’ve got a musical that I want to sell, and that’s where I want to be. And with a little bit of credibility…”
At this, Jones trailed off, and with the pause in transcription, I found myself wondering exactly how far he’d gotten with this musical of his. Was it just an idea that he was shopping around, or had he actually begun the process of writing songs for it? If it’s the latter – or, really, even if it’s just the idea – I hope Jessica Pacheco will consider letting someone move forward with the musical as a posthumous tribute to her husband, thereby bringing his dream to fruition.
Okay, last bit before I’m off again for awhile, but when Jones started up again, he was still more or less on the topic of pursuing new endeavors in the future.
“If I had gone off after the Monkees had finished in 1970 and gone to Hollywood Park or Santa Anita and said, ‘I’m a jockey, I can ride,’ you don’t think I would’ve got rides?” he asked. “I would’ve got rides, if only just because of who I was. So you’ve got to really pick your moments, and…it’s actually the same thing you’ve got to do on a horse, really. The best horse is not always the horse that wins the race. It’s the jockey that makes the least mistakes. And I don’t think I’ve made too many mistakes so far, because I haven’t been overplayed.”
A smirk. “Although I may overplay myself a bit…”
Okay, I’ve got to run. More to come, Monkees fans, I promise. But on that note, I just wanted to close by saying that I realize it may seem a bit weird that both of these first two segments have offered precisely no discussion of Jones’s most famous work, i.e. the group that came walking down the street and, in turn, received the funniest looks from everyone they met, but if there’s one thing I’ve found when interviewing actors, musicians, and even authors over the years, it’s that you can earn a great deal more good will by not leaping straight into asking about the stuff they’re always being asked about. Also, if you stay predictable with your questions, then they’re more likely to fall back on the rote responses that they’ve perfected over the course of God only knows how many interviews.
Your mileage in this matter may vary, of course. But it’s always worked for me.