This selectively revealing, insightful memoir casts the cerebral Monkee as a spiritual seeker and self-deprecating visionary.
Popular culture has barely revealed the tip of the iceberg that is Nesmith. The author has a droll, ironic sense of humor, which has helped him connect with like-minded spirits and which readers should find engaging. He’s also an eccentric who describes the aftermath of Monkeedom as “the detritus of a collective dream we were all waking from, each in our own room, and each afflicted with our own case of Celebrity Psychosis informing us about the furniture in that room.” This “Celebrity Psychosis” ultimately figures more heavily in the book than the Monkees do, a demon that haunted him for decades after that 1960s fluke of fame. As much as he resented those who treated him as a puppet or a “pariah…pummeled by opprobrium and ridicule and reviled among my peers,” he eventually came to consider his Monkees experience “a gift, an odd gift to be sure but with a deep message for me that I am still parsing and for which I am never less than thankful.” As for the rest of his fascinating life, Nesmith was raised in Dallas by a single mother, a devout Christian Scientist who became wealthy as the inventor of Liquid Paper. If he didn’t invent country rock, he was there at the beginning, and he did invent the music video and had the vision for what would become MTV. More recently, the author has been involved with virtual reality and received a patent “for the embedding of real time video into a virtual environment.” Along the way, he was influenced by both hippie mystics and a Christian Science teacher, and he bonded with Jack Nicholson, Timothy Leary, Douglas Adams, and John Lennon. Nesmith doesn’t even bother to mention that Linda Ronstadt enjoyed her breakout hit with his “Different Drum” or that the Monkees have experienced a series of comeback reunions (with and without him).
A book—and a life—unlike any other in rock.