Monday, January 3, 2022

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1110

"Wool Hat." The producers of a TV show wanted to call him "Wool Hat."

Michael Nesmith would have none of that.

Nesmith had been cast alongside Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork as the co-leads of a weekly TV sitcom. They played a fictional group called the Monkees. The fact that these made-for-TV Monkees also became a real-life group was thanks in no small part to Nesmith's stubborn determination. It would be a mistake to give Nesmith a disproportionate amount of the credit here--each of the four Monkees was integral to the process of transcending limitations, of making the Monkees matter--but there's simply no way in hell it could have happened without Nesmith's own strong will as catalyst.

"Wool Hat?" Please. The name was Michael. Michael was the one who brought his laundry with him to his audition, the one who immediately insisted that this (originally) prefab project include songs he'd written, and that he be the one to produce the sessions for his songs. When the Monkees began to seek some measure of autonomy, to play on the records that bore their name, it was Michael who responded to corporate resistance by putting his fist through a wall, looking a suit square in the eye, and warning, "That could have been your face." 

(Nesmith added a multi-syllable word at the end of that statement, but decorum suggests we only reveal that the word started with "Mother.")

The make-believe Monkees became real. We can't say that was all Nesmith's doing, because it wasn't. But nor can we imagine that sequence of events without him. And his fist.

Of course, Nesmith was more than merely ("merely...?!") a Monkee. He was a songwriter, a musician, a producer, a visionary, an entrepreneur, a businessman, an author, a dreamer, a realist, a personality, a person. Darkened rolling figures move through prisms of no color. He wrote Linda Ronstadt's first hit. He invented the concept of MTV. He was the recipient of the first-ever GRAMMY Award for a video album. He was the only member of the Monkees to have a U.S. Top 40 single outside of the Monkees' aegis. He ran a company. He produced videos and films. He wrote books. He was respected. He was admired.

And he was also a Monkee. Perhaps he was once a reluctant Monkee, but he came to understand, to accept, and to appreciate the fortune he found beneath a wool hat. Weren't they good? They made me happy. That would have been enough. But he gave us more. Rising, rising, rising up again. We tip our own wool hats in tribute, and in gratitude. Godspeed, Michael Nesmith. Here's to the beat of a different drum.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read all about this show's long and weird history here: Boppin' The Whole Friggin' Planet (The History Of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO)

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS are always welcome.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

PS: SEND MONEY!!!! We need tech upgrades like Elvis needs boats. Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at

TIRnRR # 1110: 1/2/2022
TIRnRR FRESH SPINS! Tracks we think we ain't played before are listed in bold

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
MICHAEL NESMITH: Rising In Love (Pacific Arts, "...tropical campfire's...")
THE BENT BACKED TULIPS: Sweet Young Thing (eggBERT, Looking Through...)
MICKY DOLENZ: Circle Sky (7a, Dolenz Sings Nesmith)
SUSANNA HOFFS: You Just May Be The One (n/a, Bright Lights)
MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND: Nevada Fighter (Awareness, Nevada Fighter)
THE MONKEES: Sunny Girlfriend [acoustic remix of master vocal] (Rhino Handmade, Headquarters Sessions)
POP CO-OP: The Only Thing I Really Want (Futureman, VA: Happy Holidays 2021 From Futureman Records)
THE ENGLISH BEAT: Best Friend (Shout Factory, Keep The Beat)
MICHAEL NESMITH WITH RED RHODES: Grand Ennui (7a, Cosmic Partners--The McCabe's Tapes)
HOLLY GOLIGHTLY: You Ain't No Big Thing (Vinyl Japan, Laugh It Up!)
THE CONTINENTAL DRIFTERS: Some Of Shelly's Blues (Razor & Tie, Continental Drifters)
THAT PETROL EMOTION: It's A Good Thing (Rhino, VA: Children Of Nuggets)
THE MONKEES: Nine Times Blue (Rhino Handmade, Instant Replay)
THE ZOMBIES: Hung Up On A Dream (Big Beat, Zombie Heaven)
JIM BASNIGHT & THE MOBERLYS: Ugly Side (Power Popaholic, Seattle-New York-Los Angeles)
THE WHO: Armenia City In The Sky (MCA, The Who Sell Out)
MICHAEL CARPENTER & THE CUBAN HEELS: Tapioca Tundra (Big Radio, By Request--Vol. 2)
ONE IN A MILLION: Fredereek Hernando (Grapefruit, VA: Think I'm Going Weird)
JEREMY: Live For Today (JAM, Live For Today)
THE OUTSIDERS: Bend Me Shape Me (Ace, VA: You Heard It Here First! Volume 2)
MICHAEL NESMITH & THE SECOND NATIONAL BAND: Mama Rocker (Awareness, Tantamount To Treason Volume One)
D.B. COOPER: Ram On (Rhino, Buy American)
THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND: Propinquity (Capitol Nashville, Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy)
THE ATLANTICS: Teenage Flu (Something Hot Communications, Power Pop)
IRENE PEÑA: Shut It Down (Big Stir, single)
DAVID BOWIE: Andy Warhol (Virgin, Bowie At The Beeb)
GARY OWEN: The Girl I Knew Somewhere (7a, VA: Listen To The Bands)
THE WEEKLINGS: Baby You're A Rich Man (Jem, 3)
MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND REDUX: Calico Girlfriend (7a, Live At The Troubador)
CHRIS SPEDDING: Bedsit Girl (Cherry Red, VA: Surrender To The Rhythm)
MICHAEL NESMITH: Rio (Rio, From A Radio Engine To The Photon Wing)
JUNIPER: Best Kept Secret (Confidential Recordings, Juniper)
BO DIDDLEY: Bo Diddley 1969 (MCA, The Chess Box)
MICKY DOLENZ: You Are My One (7a, Dolenz Sings Nesmith)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: Sweet Jane (Polydor, Peel Slowly And See)
COCKEYED GHOST: About Jill (Big Deal, Keep Yourself Amused)
MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND: American Airman (Real Gone Music, Different Drum: The Lost RCA Victor Recordings)
THE PRETENDERS: Message Of Love (Sire, The Singles)
THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND: Mary, Mary (Elektra, East-West)
R.E.M.: Love Is All Around (TAG Recordings, VA: I Shot Andy Warhol)
MICKY DOLENZ: Don't Wait For Me (7a, Dolenz Sings Nesmith)
BIG STAR: I'm In Love With A Girl (Ardent, # 1 Record/Radio City)
FLOYD CRAMER: Papa Gene's Blues (RCA, Floyd Cramer Plays The Monkees)
CILLA BLACK: A Shot Of Rhythm & Blues (Ace, VA: She Came From Liverpool!)
MICHAEL NESMITH: Release (Rio, Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash)
THE ROLLING STONES: Not Fade Away (Abkco, Singles Collection: The London Years)
THE MONKEES: Me & Magdalena (Rhino, Good Times!)
SHOES: The Things You Do (Elektra, Tongue Twister)
SPARKS: Lawnmower (BMG, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip)
MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND: Silver Moon (Awareness, Loose Salute)
SQUEEZE: Farfisa Beat (A & M, Argybargy)
THE STONE PONEYS: Different Drum (Rhino, LINDA RONSTADT: Greatest Hits I & II)
MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND: Joanne (Awareness, Magnetic South)
THE MONKEES: Listen To The Band [single version] (Rhino, 50)

No comments:

Post a Comment