The Upside of Goodbye

Considering how this blog got started and the recurring themes that have kept it going over the past 13 years, this is a hard one to write. :(

After hearing of Michael Nesmith’s passing last night, I spent much of today listening to the lovely McCabe’s Tapes and reminiscing about the two Nez shows I attended a couple years back, pre-pandemic. For whatever reason, I didn’t write about them at the time (or rather, I did, but never got around to actually posting about it), so figured I’d finish up and share the memories now in honor of one of my favorite underrated songwriters.

In January 2018 I saw Michael Nesmith and the First National Band (Redux) at The Rio in Santa Cruz. I went by myself, partially because no one in my extended circle shares the same fondness for pedal steel-infused cosmic Texas country rock, but mainly because my appreciation for Nez has always been more of a personal one. It’s one of those things you’re perfectly content to call your own; and in fact, you might even enjoy it more because you have it all to yourself. (See also: yearly re-watchings of You’ve Got Mail during the holiday season.)

Obligatory backstory: Late summer of 2008, in the empty weeks between drum corps ending and fall quarter at UCLA beginning, I spiraled deep into my first Nez obsession. Somehow, replaying the Monkees Greatest Hits CD turned into a full-blown obsession with the TV show (leading me to buy and rewatch both seasons ad nauseam and also to start this blog) which then turned into a never-ending Mike Nesmith side journey. Piece by downloaded piece, I loaded up my iPod with all the Nez solo albums I could find. I learned “Nine Times Blue” on the guitar and played it nonstop. While simultaneously worrying about the future and many other now-insignificant matters, I read and re-read the liner notes to And the Hits Just Keep On Coming and felt a little less angsty. In the years since, I think I’ve masked all this by telling people I’m a Monkees fan, but really ever since that summer in 2008 it’s been Nez all the way.

Anyway, even at age 30, I was expecting to be one of the youngest people at the Santa Cruz show, as per usual with these things, but to my surprise I happened to sit next to three teenage girls who had traveled all the way from Denver to be there, proof that there are bonafide Nez fangirls in every generation! They were so enthusiastic and excited, I couldn’t stop smiling while talking with them. It was like meeting a version of myself as a teenager, the version that posted unfiltered fanatical thoughts to LiveJournal and would’ve also traveled 1,200 miles just to see one of my favorite people in concert, if I could find someone to drive me. The teens struck up a conversation with the older couple behind us, and it turns out the man was a DJ at KPIG, who previously worked with Nez at Pacific Arts. In short, I felt like I was among a group of people who were all friends, and all of this even before the band walked onto the stage.

The show was a delight. Mike was so happy and goofy, which I’m sure was partly due to the fact that he was sharing the stage with his two sons and daughter-in-law, who seem like lovely people (his oldest son Christian especially got the crowd going). Nothing I love more than a family band! This was when I realized just how much I loved those First National Band albums I’d downloaded piecemeal a decade prior: song after song (“Calico Girlfriend”, “Dedicated Friend”, “Some of Shelly’s Blues”, “Nine Times Blue”) I sang along gleefully. Mike’s career spans eras and moods—1980s LA grooves, synth-forward sci-fi soundtracks, and tropical campfires to name a few—but I think 1970s rollicking roadtrip romps will always be my favorite.

I saw Nez & Fam again a year later at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, this time with my dad and a bunch of his friends who were in town for the festival. There in Golden Gate Park surrounded by a crowd full of boomers, I made my way to the front row to experience it all myself, singing out of tune to a meandering version of “Papa Gene’s Blues” and letting the pedal steel take me away.

Now that I think about it, this might’ve been the last live show I attended before everything shut down in 2020. I knew Mike’s health had wavered a bit in the past few years, so I was grateful to get to see him two times (three if you count the Monkees show) while he was touring and in good spirits. It seemed like he was doing well these last few months too, having just finished a tour with Micky. So, while I’m a bit shocked and saddened to hear of his passing, it’s nice to know he was playing music up until the end. To paraphrase “The Upside of Goodbye,” I’d like to think our dear Nez’s departure doesn’t leave us empty but instead with a fullness to lean on.

Thanx for everything, Nez. ❤️

We are here, and we’re gonna have a good time

Unless you follow me or Mike Nesmith on social media, you probably didn’t know there was a new Monkees album out (after all, they’re almost 75 years old and only 3/4 of the original band remains). But I’m here to tell you that it dropped on Friday and it is ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD.

The album is called —wait for it—Good Times!, and as much as I wish the name was a little more…inventive, I must admit it effectively embraces the cheerful, shameless nostalgia that is the Monkees. At least it’s a better idea than Pool It! (fun fact: I have a signed copy of Pool It!, which I’m pretty sure my dad is going to donate if I don’t take it with me next time I visit).

So anyway, on Friday I donned my Nez hat and went by myself to a Monkees listening party at Amoeba Records, to celebrate the release of the new album while browsing record stacks.

The “party” was pretty subdued, mostly boomers and a couple of very nice Amoeba employees, so I kept my intense fangirling to myself. But it was so fun to hear new Monkees music voice blasting over the speakers while record browsing. Not to mention, I got so much free swag!

Can’t wait to get started on that coloring book 👍

There were also cupcakes and cookies, so all in all it was probably the best possible way to spend my Friday evening.

Some album highlights, in case you’re interested:

“Me & Magdalena” is straight-up beautiful. It was released a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening to it wayyyy more than a normal person should. The song was written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab/Postal Service fame (a whole other kind of nostalgia), and is probably the best ballad the Monkees have ever done. Go listen to it.

“Wasn’t Born To Follow” – I first heard this song on the Easy Rider soundtrack and since then it’s always been a favorite (I only recently heard Carole King’s version, even though she was the one who wrote the song!). I was so pleasantly surprised to hear Peter’s lovely, un-countrified rendition…honestly I think he sounds better than ever?!

No Monkees album would be complete without the voice of Davy Jones, and I’m so glad they chose to include “Love to Love.” It’s a Neil Diamond tune originally recorded in 1967, and really tops off the whole 60s throwback vibe. Hearing this song only made me sad that there was no more Davy on the album. Micky probably sang the most original hits, but in so many ways, Davy was the voice and face of the Monkees. MISS U, MANCHESTER COWBOY.

This is really difficult for me, but my ONE skip track is Nez’s original song “I Know What I Know” (I’m sorry, Mike!!). I’ve always been a bigger fan of his more upbeat, weird country stuff, so this one didn’t really do it for me.

“I Was There (And I’m Told I Had A Good Time)” – I’m mostly just impressed at how many Beatlesque sounds they managed to fit into a 2-minute song. Did you know this song was co-written by Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne, who also happened to produce the entire album? Other songwriting credits for Good Times! go to Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Rivers Cuomo, and Andy Partridge. Also, the title track features Micky doing a duet with Harry Nilsson, so that’s pretty cool. 

The bottom line: this new album isn’t trying to be hip or modern or anything else but a solid collection of 60s-inspired pop songs (several of them were in fact written in the 60s) and I mean, it just works so well. I love the fact that it’s a collaboration with hit songwriters from both the past and present, and that the guys seemed to have had a blast recording it. Personally, I had a blast listening to it, and still can’t get the songs out of my head.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go live vicariously through my Monkees DVDs while wishing I was born 40 years earlier…

You’re a nail-biter, and your mother never ever loved you.




I’ve just thought of the perfect Halloween costume.

Ok, tasteless stereotyping and ridiculousness aside…..MONKEEMEN! I mean, look at them, it’s perfect.

The reason I’m so excited? If you couldn’t guess, it’s the fact that I can wear my glasses for a costume and IT WILL LOOK 100% ACCURATE. My whole life I’ve dealt with the classic glasses-wearer dilemma: how to effectively pull off a costume when you don’t wear contacts and your vision is too bad to forego the specs. Over the years I’ve tried to brainstorm appropriate costumes for myself: Woody Allen (Alex almost agreed to be Annie Hall if I would go as Alvy Singer), Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords (that one actually turned out pretty well), Mike Nesmith and his groovy 60’s sunglasses.

But now I can be an even more fun version of Mike Nesmith!!!

Although, there’s a good chance this could end up like last year, when I was so excited to be the cover of Rumours with Alex that I put a reminder on my calendar 10 months in advance…but by the time Halloween rolled around we ran out of time and defaulted to Star Trek costumes.

But you guys, I really think I could pull this one off.

Catching up

It finally happened!:


I made it through November alive! This was my third time attempting NaNoWriMo, and I finally succeeded in writing 50,000 words in 30 days. WOOO! Quite a lesson in commitment. I guess you could call the (un)finished product a “novel,” except I’d have months of re-writing and de-suckifying to do before I could ever consider it readable. So while there’s a good chance the story will never see the light of day, I must admit I had a lot of fun writing it. :)

That said, I’m happy to be back on the ol’ blog! Here are a couple of things that came up during November that I vowed to blog about once I hit my word count:

Nez on Portlandia
Alex and I have been catching up on Portlandia, and one night we were watching an episode in which the Mayor’s parents are introduced (turns out they’ve been paying for all of Portland’s major purchases, including a 3D printer). And I thought for a split second that my eyes were tricking me but BY GOLLY I was right: the Mayor’s dad was played by NONE OTHER THAN MIKE NESMITH OF THE MONKEES.

AHHHHHH. You have to remember that I have a hardcore crush on Monkee Mike Nesmith, but appearances like this don’t help my cause (I swear he didn’t always look like the dad of a mayor!). Luckily for you (me), I found a very relevant episode of the Monkees:

I may or may not have watched the entire episode after finding that clip. Silliest. Show. Ever. “It’s a watch fob for a giant!”

How the rest of my November was spent: fangirling HARD over Queen
I CANNOT stop loving this band, you guys. My only purchase on Black Friday was Queen Rock Montreal from Rasputin Music (at full price, haha). I have no regrets! It’s an amazing concert.

Ugh I love this song so much. Freddie’s voice is perfect and Brian is the king of the power ballad. It’s also part of my NaNoWriMo14 soundtrack, which I have on 8tracks and might post later, if I can ever think of a good title for it.

Ok, turns out those were the only other things keeping me occupied over the past month. I’m also getting back into Tumblr, which is where obsessions are born. So I’ll probably be back soon. BRACE YOURSELVES.

Gimme some good ol’ American music

I’ve been keeping a list of music that I’ve been obsessing over recently – whether it’s new stuff on the radio or classic albums revisited – and after putting them all in one list, I am noticing a distinct Americana theme going on. I must be going through one of those summery, itching-to-hit-the-road phases or something…anyway, as a result, I offer you some music to listen to!
Two albums I want to highlight:
Born & Raised. John Mayer. This new album is much more ‘down home’ than the John Mayer I’m used to listening to, and I love it. Upcoming road trip to Utah = you better bet I’ll be listening to this on the way. A couple favorites: Age of Worry and Speak for Me. Also, how great is the cover art? It seriously looks like it belongs on a vinyl album, next to CSNY and Buffalo Springfield.
And the Hits Just Keep On Comin’. Mike Nesmith. Funny album name, especially because no one really knows any of the songs on this album (except for “Different Drum” which Linda Ronstadt made famous). Nevertheless, I went through a phase where I listened to this album every day, strumming along on guitar and pretending to be a country singer. This isn’t really your typical country, though. It’s just Mike and a pedal steel guitar, singing really exposed lyrics with big words and kind of cerebral themes. Great to listen to if you’re feeling introspective and kind of lonely, haha. I remember really loving the liner notes written by Nez, but can’t find them online. :(
Favorite tracks: Two Different Roads and Keep On.
And to round it off, here are some songs I’ve been digging A LOT lately:
Wildflowers. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Such a perfect sunny weekend song.
Man on Fire. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Makes me want to embark on a road trip riiiiight….NOW.
Some Nights. Fun. How epic is this music video? (The song starts about a minute in)
Happy summer!

This is me not studying

You know that Top 5 ___ thing on Facebook? I was getting so annoyed by people posting those and having them show up on my news feed, but then I did one and found myself addicted to them. Some of the ones I did include Top 5 Album Covers, Top 5 Cereal Brands, and Top 5 Stadiums/Arenas, but this one’s the most picture worthy:

Top 5 Celebrity Crushes

George Harrison

Gregory Peck

Buster Keaton

Gene Kelly

Charles “Buddy” Rogers

I know, all five of my celebrity crushes are dead. :( There’s just no one comparable these days!

I also really wanted to include:

Charlie Chaplin


Mike Nesmith

but I couldn’t find their pictures when I searched. Apparently no one on Facebook agrees with me!! :P

defending my honor, isn’t that groovy?

This past week has been marked by an excessive amount of Monkee-marathoning. I can’t believe my parents have put up with listening to the Monkees theme song literally ten times a day, haha.

I am so in love with Mike Nesmith. I don’t know whether it’s the hair, the wool hat, the voice, or some combination of quirky attributes that is so attractive to me…I can’t really figure it out so I’ll just post a bunch of videos instead.

Here is a compilation of links I like to call “The Best of Mike, According to Nikki and Thanks to YouTube”:
*Billy Roy Hodstetter at 1:25 – 2:00. AWWWWW so cute!!
*Save the Texas Prairie Chicken I love how his accent is so much heavier in real life and he has to tone it down for the scene, haha.
*Princess Gwen – 3:30 – 3:55. Actually this whole episode is full of win. But “HAROLD YOU BETTER GET THIS CARRIAGE OUTTA THE MUD” takes the cake.
*Mike and Frank Zappa – “I’ll teach you how to play the car…”

And finally, because the only thing better than one Mike Nesmith is TWO Mike Nesmiths! (Uber-Country Mike is my favorite:)

I enjoy times like this, when I have nothing to do besides preoccupy myself with 60s love. While browsing though my past journals, I’ve noticed that it’s a distinct trend: the summer before freshman year I was in my huge Beatles phase…my journal is filled with so many pictures and drawings and lyrics it’s almost overwhelming. Then the summer before sophomore year was the Rolling Stones (and Keith Richards)…I made a CD of Keith songs that I swear I listened to every night as I went to sleep. And the summer before senior year was definitely The Who. I spent hours learning Who songs on guitar and trying to perfect the Townshend windmill. (Don’t really know what I was into the summer before junior year…I think I actually liked recent music for a while, haha). Anyway, I guess drum corps fills up a lot of my break, but there is still just the right amount of time to get caught up in another obsession, and this is the result…


I’ll leave you with that. And now, it’s off to Vegas! PAYCE!

First post FTW!

As if I haven’t had enough online journals, I was compelled one day to create yet another. I figured that since I ramble so much about my favorite music groups and actors and the sixties, might as well do that all in one place. That way I can separate my real life from the generation I wish I lived in, ha.

First video post is the Monkees. You’re probably not surprised. But this video needs a bit of explanation first, in order to fully appreciate it.

So at the beginning of drum corps tour, Stuart presented us with an authentic donkey jaw that we decided to put in the show (it’s an actual instrument, predecessor to the vibraslap, no joke). Needless to say, we had a lot of fun with it. The jaw appeared on the Jumbotron at Championships, and also made its way into every group photo taken by Jolesch after quarterfinals. We practically worshipped the donkey jaw. Anyway, one day while listening to my ipod on the bus, the Monkees song “Papa Gene’s Blues” came up and I SWEAR I heard a sound just like the donkey jaw. I was pretty intrigued, but in the midst of the competitive season and the plague that was sweeping through our corps, I forgot about the song. THEN today I was going through some record albums in the studio and there on the back of Headquarters, where the band members were listed, it read: “Davy Jones: vocals, tambourine, jawbone, maracas, etc.”


In my excitement I immediately searched YouTube for a decent version of the song. A lot came up, but this is the best one I found in terms of how well you can hear the jawbone, haha. Sadly, you never see anyone playing it (for that, I happened to find another video…man YouTube is so cool), but the sound is unmistakable:

Other great things about this video:

  • There’s another version on YouTube (less audible donkey jaw, though, so slightly inferior) on which someone commented, “Could Davy be holding any more maracas??” It made me laugh, because SRSLY. How can such a small man be holding that many maracas?
  • The woolhat and overalls make for a great outfit.
  • Mike is so cute at the end, his wink makes me melt AHHHH. Yes, I still have a really big crush on Monkee Mike Nesmith. I hope it never goes away.

I think I will enjoy this, because it means I can be all fangirly and not have to care, since that is the sole purpose for this journal.