Author: Michael Nesmith     

Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition first Printing edition

ISBN-13: 978-1101907504

I’m not sure what inspired me to sit down and listen to the audiobook edition of ex—Monkee Michael Nesmith’s new autobiography. I suppose I remain a sucker for ‘60s nostalgia, even if Nesmith has long maintained a very understandable and quiet distance from his short Monkee past. I expected to learn much more about his decades since his pop stardom years and, mostly, I wasn’t disappointed even if a number of projects get little or no mention.

In fact, we never hear the names Mickey Dolenz, Davey Jones, or Peter Tork mentioned more than one passing note on their pre-Monkee years.    When Nesmith starts name dropping, we first hear about his encounters with Timothy Leary and author Douglas Adams, the latter to play an even more important role in the book’s final chapters. Yes, we get perhaps two chapters of Monkee business including Nesmith admitting he was thrust into the limelight of show business in a way he didn’t like and didn’t understand. In his view, Headquarters is the only real Monkees record. I didn’t know their movie, Head, was designed to be a suicide project intended to torpedo the entire Monkee parade.

But the bulk of the book looks at Nesmith’s formative years when he tried to be a California based songwriter, and the decades after his Monkee stardom when he shaped his own musical trajectory, especially with the country rock pioneers, the First National Band and their unexpected 1970 hit, “Joanne.” Nesmith has much to say about the music business of the ‘70s which he repeatedly describes as corrupt and machine-like. He virtually invented music videos (winning a Grammy for his 1982 Elephant Parts), producing “Pop Clips”, which evolved into MTV. Nesmmith also successfully tried his hand at movie production (notably Repo Man), and ultimately dived into virtual reality which is something he’s still working on.

Along the way, Nesmith is very candid about his failures, missteps, and misunderstandings, especially when he repeatedly discusses what he calls “celebrity psychosis.” He shares his spiritual odyssey, notably his lifelong connections to Christian Science.        I must admit, I don’t know that I’ll ever contribute a dime to PBS again unless I hear a good defense for their attempts to steal his Pacific Arts video catalogue, even if they lost big in court in 1999. 

Naturally, I was curious about a few matters glossed over or not mentioned in the story.  I’d have thought he’d have said more about the songs that he wrote which the Monkees did record like “Mary Mary.” Speaking of songwriting, I was surprised to see nothing about “Different Drum” or “Some of Shelley’s Blues” that were recorded by Linda Ronstadt. He says nothing about the Monkee reunions he participated in or mentions the passing of Davey Jones. Perhaps these are all topics he’s addressed too many times before and has no interest in retreading what, for him, must be overly tilled territory. 

For serious Monkee fans, the way to go is read the audiobook edition as read aloud by the author. For everyone else, check out the book if you’re interested in learning more about a man who has been far more than the guy in the “wool hat.” In this book, you get a bit of rock and roll, a bit of country, a lot of the entertainment business, and even more exploration into spiritual healing.