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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LSD Charter School Blues - A Local Protest Story

Recently our little rural school district in San Geronimo Valley, (called the Lagunitas School District) has been going through a big kerfluffle.  We have three alternative public options: Montessori, Waldorf Inspired and Open Classroom.  We have about 230 or so kids in the entire K-8 district!  Recently some of the Waldorf inspired program parents submitted a charter proposal to the district that would have severely impacted the entire rural district as it was written.  As of last night the charter petition was withdrawn, but not before it inspired my friend Wes to seed the idea of a local protest song and video for youtube.  I took the bait and mashed up styles and influences from Dylan, Eminem and Beastie Boys into this song and video.

It seems that the law firm involved in this has some ties to the Walton Family Foundation.  Charter schools can work in many situations, but this is a rural district with 3 "charter like" programs already.  It seems more like the money behind this and other similar movements is a union busting trend... like so many other union and general middle class attacks these days.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meet the New Boss, Worse Than the Old Boss? Part 1 (REPOSTED)

(introductory notes by Ken Adams)

David Lowery, producer, songwriter, singer, activist, leader of both Camper van Beethoven and Cracker, (two of my favorite bands from then and now) has been compiling some really compelling information on how musicians/artists are being compensated in the new digital age, and how now that stores like iTunes, etc. are established as money making business models that now is the time to start paying the artists more as the "risk" involved setting the ideas up in the early 2000's has been "amortized" more or less.  This is my take on the article.  I'm a musician, songwriter, content creator, etc. and this topic really interests me, so I'm reposting a section from David's article here on the Boy on the Bike Blog.  Links are included to read the rest of this article and the other 4 parts of it. Hope you find it compelling as I did.

Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss? Part 1.

Part 1 of a 5 part post
(Copyright in the author, used by permission)
What follows is based on my notes and slides from my talk at SF Music Tech Summit.  I realize that I’m about to alienate some of my friends that work on the tech side of the music business.  These are good well intentioned people who genuinely want to help musicians succeed in the new digital paradigm. But if we are gonna come up with a system to compensate artists fairly in the new digital age we need an honest discussion of what is going on.  The tech side of the music business really needs to look at how their actions and policies negatively impact artists,  just as they have pointed out the negative effect record company actions have had on artists.
Too often the debate has been  pirates vs the RIAA.  This is ridiculous because the artists, the 99 percent of the music business are left out of the debate.  I’m not advocating going back to the old record label model,  to an industry dominated by the big three multi-national  labels.  This is a bit of hyperbole intended to make us all think about this question:  Is the new digital  model better for the artist?
Meet the New Boss, Worse than the old boss
I was like all of you.  I believed in the promise of the Internet to liberate, empower and even enrich artists.  I still do but I’m less sure of it than I once was.  I come here because I want to start a dialogue.  I feel that what we artists were promised has not really panned out.  Yes in many ways we have more freedom.  Artistically this is certainly true.  But the music business never transformed into the vibrant marketplace where small stakeholders could compete with multinational conglomerates on an even playing field.
In the last few years it’s become apparent the music business, which was once dominated by six large and powerful music conglomerates, MTV, Clear Channel and a handful of other companies, is now dominated by a smaller set of larger even more powerful tech conglomerates.  And their hold on the business seems to be getting stronger.
On one hand it doesn’t bother me because the “new boss” doesn’t really tell me what kind of songs to write or who should mix my record. But on the other hand I’m a little disturbed at how dependent I am on these tech behemoths to pursue my craft.  In fact it is nigh impossible for me to pursue my craft without enriching Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.   Further the new boss through it’s surrogates like Electronic Frontier Foundation  seems to be waging a cynical PR campaign that equates the unauthorized use of other people’s property (artist’s songs) with freedom.   A sort of Cyber –Bolshevik campaign of mass collectivization for the good of the state…er .. I mean Internet.   I say cynical because when it comes to theirintellectual property, software patents for instance, these same companies fight tooth and nail.
Meet the new boss, he wants to collectivize your songs!
The other problem? I’ve been expecting for years now to see aggregate revenue flowing to artist increase.  Disintermediation promised us this.  It hasn’t happened.   Everywhere I look artists seem to be working more for less money.  And every time I come across aggregate data that is positive it turns out to have a black cloud inside.  Example: Touring revenues up since 1999. Because more bands are touring, staying on the road longer and playing for fewer people.  Surely you all can see Malthusian trajectory?
SLIDE 1  [ MORE... ]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jubilee Adams: Debut as Tiny Tim - A Christmas Carol (The Musical)

Jubilee at 7 years old took on the big challenge of playing Tiny Tim in the musical version of the time honored Dickens novella with songs written by Alan Menken (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics). The show was produced by the Stapleton Theatre Co. with Bruce Vieira directing, and many other wonderful people working hard to make it happen.  She went through months of rehearsals, tech week and having a wireless mike taped firmly to her face in order to give us this great performance from a girl who lives up to her name.  Her jubilation was evident in her portrayal of Tiny Tim.  And of course, I'm heavily biased, being her dad...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Walk in Someone Else's Shoes

This is an article from an excellent local photographer Stephanie Mohan, who took some incredible photos of my daughter Jubilee for her headshot and promo photos.  After these photos, Jubilee was signed to Stars Agency and is enjoying getting auditions and is getting some work.

Stephanie offers a very interesting and self analytic article on her profession as a portrait photographer.  I thought it would make a nice re-post in this blog.

Thanks for being Stephanie, Stephanie!

a walk in someone else’s shoes…

Earlier this month, I went to a Los Angeles workshop to beef up my headshots skills!  I learned SO much and had just an incredible time (  Not only did I learn a million new techniques, but I feel completely re inspired!.
One of the most valuable aspects of the workshop was that I had to stand in the shoes of a model.  Each participant had to have their headshot taken by instructor/photographer Peter Hurley .  I was so nervous….I completely freaked out in front of his camera.
I cant say enough about the experience of being a photographer who is camera shy and feeling what my clients go through on the other end of the lens.   I was not an exemplary client.  Sweating, twitching, giggling…. I was a total mess.
Round 1: my photo shoot! I proceed to stand in front of his camera and ignore all his instruction.  I cant stand still.  I look away constantly.  I’m completely embarr
assed.  If I were the photographer, there is a great likelihood I would be rolling my eyes (at least in my head).  In seconds, after viewing the images,  I determine my had is freakishly large and my eyes are small and beady.   I think that I must immediately  go on a diet.  After a firm lecture by Peter, I get to try again.  He tells me to follow his directions.  He tells me to stop freaking out.  Round 2….I still wiggle and twitch, but I think I am following direction better.  I try to trust him, through I still felt like a train wreck.  What am I freaking out about?????
I had no idea this could be so traumatic.
Now I really “get” how intense it can be to have your photo taken, particularly if you are not a professional model or actor.   I really do!   But why is it so hard? I know I am not a super-model, but after looking at these photos nearly three weeks later, I really REALLY like them.  Why couldn’t I love these photos back then?
Obviously I can mention a cliche like  we all need to love ourselves more, or point out that we never see ourselves how others see us.  But my summation as a portrait photographer who works with models, who may or may not have their photo taken regularly, is that self image can be very fragile.   I think we all can take ourselves too seriously, and  once trust is there, we can then work together to make a great image as a team.  Also, once the initial shock of seeing ourselves is over, than we can “take in” the beauty of our own image.  This was a completely eye-opening experience.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jubilee Adams: "Tomato Makes It" Voice Over TV Spot

This is my daughter Jubilee's first voice over booking for a TV commercial through her agency, Stars.  Produced by BARC Integrated Marketing and Vreeland Productions in San Francisco for the Tomato Products Wellness Council. She had a blast recording it, and had way too many sweets at the craft services table...

Proud papa, me...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Voice Over for Movie Trailers: Last Frontier for Women Voice Actors?

(reposted from the NY Times) I'm very interested in stories about people's experiences in finding, performing voice over or other similar acting work, especially working parents raising kids.  Send me your stories! - Ken @ Boy on the Bike

Why Men Always Tell You to See Movies

Molly Mahar
Melissa Disney, top, did the voice-over for the trailer for “Gone in 60 Seconds,” starring Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage. Women “have so much more to pull from than your typical male action voice,” Ms. Disney said.
WHAT gender is the voice of God?
Touchstone Pictures
Melissa Disney did the voice-over for the trailer for “Gone in 60 Seconds,” starring Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage.
The question has been pondered by mystics through the ages, but in the sanctuary of cinema the voice of a sonorous, authoritative, fear-inspiring yet sometimes relatable presence is, invariably, that of a man. Consider the trailer and the omniscient, disembodied voice that introduces moviegoers to a fictional world.
“Most movie trailers are loud and strong, and film studios want that male impact, vocally and thematically,” said Jeff Danis, an agent who represents voice-over artists. “Even if it’s a romantic comedy or nonaction movie, they still want that certain power and drama that men’s voices tend to convey on a grander scale.”
Even now movie trailers and promos largely hew to a template created 40 years ago byDon LaFontaine, Hollywood’s most prolific voice-over artist. Possessor of a resonant baritone that could cut through tight sequences of music and sound bites — and the coiner of familiar (and parodied) phrases like “In a world ...” and “One man, one destiny” — LaFontaine, who died in 2008, voiced more than 5,000 trailers, thousand upon thousand of commercials and television promos.
In the past few years, as audiences have grown more sophisticated, the independent production companies that make trailers for Hollywood studios have begun moving away from voice-overs, favoring graphic devices like title cards to serve as narration. “As much as possible people are trying to let the movie speak for itself, without being as heavy handed as the ‘voice of God’ narrator feels,” said John Long of Buddha Jones Trailers, which was responsible for campaigns for “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Inglourious Basterds,” among others.
Still, plenty of voice-over jobs remain, especially in television, though women are seldom cast. “There are some very talented, very gifted women in this business that can satisfy any request for a narrator, but the opportunities aren’t given to them,” said Mike Soliday, a talent agent who represents prominent male voice artists like Scott Rummell and Tony Rodgers.
As Mr. Danis put it, “Trailers are really the last frontier for women.” [ more ]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thomas Dolby: Guest DJ on KCRW

Like so many other music and gear geeks, I really dug Thomas Dolby's work, especially so after his "Blinded Me with Science" period.  I loved "Aliens ate my Buick" and followed him for a while after he moved to San Mateo county and started an internet audio plugin company.  Here he is at Santa Monica's Guest DJ Project. Enjoy...

Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby

WED MAR 14, 2012
Thomas Dolby topped the charts in the 80’s by being among the first to embrace synthesizers in pop music and then proceeded to invent technology that made ringtones possible.  He compares Joni Mitchell’s melodies to jazz, shares a story about Bowie, and picks his favorite city anthem in his Guest DJ set. Dolby is touring the U.S. this Spring and will be appearing at the SXSW Music Conference.

For More:

Note: he has two showcases on WED and FRI:
1. Beside You - Van Morrison
2.  Edith And The Kingpin - Joni Mitchell
3.  Heroes - David Bowie
4.  Sign O The Times - Prince
5.  The Passenger - Iggy Pop

Eric: Hi, I'm Eric J. Lawrence, and I am here with Thomas Dolby. Of course we all know him from his music career, but what you may not know is his involvement in developing groundbreaking technology such as cell phone ring tones, as well as serving as the Music Director for the acclaimed Ted Conferences. Today, we're going to talk about some songs that he selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Thomas, thank you so much for coming down.

Thomas: Hey, nice to be here.

Eric:  What's the first song you got for us?

Thomas: The first song is a Van Morrison song, it's called "Beside You". And, Van, in his lyrics, often talks about radio and you get the sense that he had this love affair with radio when he was a kid, you know, and that it was sort of what got him through a difficult time. He also strikes me as a guy that is never that comfortable in his own skin and you just feel that when he's at his best, he's seeking refuge in his music. And I think the absolute peak of that was the "Astral Weeks" album, which is so transcendent. And my favorite cut off the album is this one, which is about the only one in a minor key, and there's something spooky about the start of this song that's just always stuck with me.

Song: Van Morrison – “Beside You”

Eric:  That was Van Morrison with "Beside You", as selected by our guest Thomas Dolby. Well, what's the next track you've got for us?

Thomas:  The next one is Joni Mitchell. "Edith and The Kingpin", is really one of my favorite songs of hers, off one of my favorite albums "The Hissing of Summer Lawns".

And there's something about "Edith and The Kingpin", the melancholy of it, and the way that an apparently simple chord sequence sort of morphs into something a bit jazzier. There's this line she sings, "He tilts their tired faces gently to the spoon" -- that's the most evocative line that just summons up that period so well. But she goes so out melodically, I mean, it's like the most beautiful piece of Jazz that you've ever heard.

Song: Joni Mitchell – Beside You

Thomas: I think the first album I ever bought with my own pocket money was "For the Roses" and I had an interesting experience, because I used to learn the piano parts from those albums and once found myself in a piano warehouse with Joni, where we had been asked by the studio we were working in to pick a new grand piano for them.

And I would start playing intros to Joni's songs, and she'd go, "Wow what was that one?",
I'd go "'Ladies of the Canyon' side 2, song 3?". "Oh yeah!", and she'd sort of join in with it. So from opposite end of this piano warehouse, we were sort of jamming on these old songs of hers.

Eric:    That was Joni Mitchell with "Edith and the Kingpin" as selected by our guest Thomas Dolby. What's the next song you got for us?

Thomas:  This is a David Bowie song, "Heroes". Like many of my generation of British teens, we were completely in love with David Bowie through all of the changes in his career, the chameleon like volt faces that he did. And I suppose the most influential moment of his career, for me, was when he turned his back on rock ‘n’ roll and went to Berlin with Brian Eno and recorded a couple of albums -- "Low" and "Heroes" -- which were really the first time electronic music had really hit the mainstream, both in the pop charts, and the side 2's, which were the first time ambient music had really sort of hit the mainstream.

Song: David Bowie – Heroes

Thomas: "Heroes" is a particularly memorable song for me because I played with Bowie at Live Aid at Wembley in 1985, and I was very nervous onstage because he had been very busy at the time and we played 4 songs that we've never rehearsed back to back. We had a young band that we'd thrown together, and I was convinced that this song that had been an anthem through my teenage years, I was going to be the one to screw it up in front of a billion and a half people. But when I got up there, I was staring at Bowie's back about ten feet away, and behind him the Wembley audience, beyond that this invisible massive world TV audience, and my fingers did the walking, you know? It's just they were playing themselves; it was a magic carpet ride.

Eric: Now, how did you transition from this life of the rock star to doing things in technology?  [ more ]

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Ukulady - Thessaly Lerner, Voice Over Artist, Destroyer of Evil

I've been facebook "friends" with Thessaly for a while and as I have begun my entries into voice over acting, the networking involved, helping my agency signed daughter with her demos and auditions, I keep coming back to her and her unique style that seems to fully allow her to express herself in an authentic, funny and sometimes serious way that seems to be finding her a niche.  She also is the Ukulady as a musical project.  I decided to post an entry here at Boy on the Bike and share some of what I've admired from afar.  Hope she doesn't mind... :-)


Child of a belly-dancer and a candlestick maker, Thessaly Storm Lerner was born in an electric storm in West Marin, California.  Alternatively-schooled and  artistically-encouraged, Rainbow Valentine/Clara’s early years were spent changing her name,  playing dress-up and yearning for child-stardom, which never came.  Determined to play Annie or Dorothy, Lerner attended Emerson College, where she graduated on roller-skates with a BFA in the earnest-kind of Acting.  Subsequently, she moved to San Francisco, where she performed, wrote, directed and produced comedic theatricals, founded an improv troupe, worked with many notable Bay Area Theatre companies and became a voiceover talent.  Lerner’s voiceover credits include Electronic Art’s “The Sims 2” and all expansion packs, Sony Playstation’s “Silent Hill 1 & 3”, dozens of Leapfrog Toys, Disney, WB Kids, MTV and hundreds more.  Upon moving to LA in 2004, Lerner became The Ukulady and has performed on National Lampoon Radio, KPFK, at The Hollywood Improv, Comedy Store, The Venetian Hotel in Vegas, Pride & Fringe Festivals, NYC Uke Fest, her own weekly variety show in Hollywood, The Ponyshow, and her first album, Banned From Canters! was released in 2008!  The Ukulady is constantly performing and creating new songs and projects, so check for schedules and updatesies!
T.Storm Lerner’s hobbies include gardening, thrifting/flea-marketing, cooking, sewing, reading, waterfall/swimming-hole exploration, world-travel, family ‘n’ friend-hang-out-time & campaigning for The Downfall of Evil!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Old, Old Bike Lost it's Boy

This old bike has a tree growing around it!  Thanks to Green Renaissance.

Send in your old "Boy or Girl or whatever on a Bike" photos!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

After the Audition

My 2nd grader gets much better gigs than me at this point as she's signed with a large San Francisco talent agency. I'm rebuilding my reels and putting on my don Quixote armor for another tilt at the brass ring on that windmill. I am enjoying it a lot mostly and that's what counts huh? I'm liking sites like Voice123 that are bringing me lots of leads. Some nibbles but no bites yet.

While I build, formulate and network, careening towards career path version 53.3.x, (while still try to hold down whatever the current one is and take care of her and the 3year old,) she can still draw on that source of play, fantasy and wonder uncrushed by whatever this thing called reality is. While I struggle with the "too lates" and the "why bothers" and the "woe's me's" inside my Swiss cheese daddy brain, she can just knock out a read or an in person audition with grace, fun and a litheness I wish and hope to tap into more again. It used to be a way of being for me. Somewhere along the way it got milled down like the nourishing bran of a grain of rice, leaving seemingly a vague starchy middle. But... "I'm working' on it...!"

So then she goes and knocks out a drawing like this one here. What a deal huh? Why all CVS bags? I dunno. That's about the fanciest place she shops these days...

I am proud we've made the choice to support our kids' creativity and be home and present with them in their early years. It does help to hear all the compliments we get about them. Hope it continues. Hope I can continue to work on the "hopeful" side of this optimistic pessimism thing I seem to do. In the words of "Red" in "The Shawshank Redemption," ... "I hope..."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Doggie In A Bag

Unreleased track from Mr. Egg days... Always had a soft spot for this one.  Maybe the song just needs a tummy rub...

Your Voice: Instrument or Not?

(I think this is a very good article for people who use their voice for any impactive task or hobby...)

The voice is NOT an instrument!

by   , 02-21-2012 at 04:47 PM (587 Views)
I’m having voice lessons again. Not singing lessons – I’ve done my share of them and they never really suited me. I’m finally starting to realise why. I’ve signed up for 10 two hour lessons in a group session and thought I’d write down my thoughts, to try to remember stuff and make better use of it all… I thought it was pretty interesting so am posting it out just in case anyone else finds it interesting too.. 

The tutor is Sylvia Rands, a ‘voice work’ coach. Her work is a sort of fusion of several vocal theorists, a key one being - Kirstin Linklater - Kristin Linklater - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia who wrote “Freeing the Natural Voice” (which I’ve ordered from the library!) There were 6 of us at last night’s class and I was the only ‘singer’, all the rest were actors, wanting to maximise their voices. They’re an ‘out there’ sort of bunch, not afraid to make the weird noises required.

One of Sylvia’s first questions was “So is the voice an instrument?”
Yes of course – thinks me – conscious of striving for better control of breath, pitch, dynamics.... all that mechanical stuff.
Wrong! The voice is YOU... Ooopsy,  I’d forgotten that.
Yes, it is all that mechanical body stuff, but beyond that, the voice is an expression of who you are. So it is MORE than an instrument.
Hmm, this goes some way to explaining the different dynamics audio engineers talk about when they are working with singers.

So how do we open up the voice to its fuller potential?
Based on the 4 elements of breath, toning, range and articulation... we started off by breathing out low and deep, making cool deep gravelly grunty sounds... It’s all to do with opening your mouth REALLY wide, hanging that jaw down as far as it will go. We ‘played’ with our voices... swooped up high, snatching high freq notes out of the air and diving down to that old bass HAH sound... heh heh, hard to describe but very strange noises. The first breathy notes are described as ‘grey’.. heaps of singers just use that grey sound... sort of ‘fluffy’ (?) whereas a true note is described as ‘black’ – it is clearer and more directly pitched... hmmm am I making any sense here at all?? 

A key trick with effective vocal work, is to co-opt your body in to do most of the work. If you sing with your whole body, it is relatively effortless. You can sure hear the difference. Sing a note with just your throat/larynx and you can make a cool sound, but standing staunch with your legs ever so slightly squat, using your breath and really ‘feeling’ the sound through your whole body – wow – it has a whole new level of richness and power.

So we started playing around with our jaws, feeling around the face, working out how the wiggly bits fit in together and where all the tension sat. Open your mouth really REALLY wide and feel how it all works. You watch how the really cool singers work – their mouths go wide. I was watching Annie Lennox the other day, she has one relaxed jaw! So, a relaxed jaw is critical... you mouth-breathe and drop that jaw down to your boot and practice saying some Hah! Hah! stuff deep down low…

Well… that’s a truncated version of a hefty two hours…
This morning, my jaw feels punched... It makes these weird sort of graunching noises when I open it… yikes!
Next week we are diving into vocal sounds – vibrato and brilliance.
‘Brilliance’ is a cool term, it describes that glittering quality that can come through at times, a sort of vocal sheen…..
Happy to share more – let me know if it’s of any interest, or just my own strange little noisy journey.

Poop truck...

More random acts of weirdness. When you been pooped on... Poop back with humor, eh? (that of course presumes this is humorous....)

Recently our septic backed up. It took a while for the guys to figure it out, pump it and fix the problem. You can imagine our jubilation. Wrote a song about it....

The Emperor Strikes Out

I find that when more really crappy stuff happens, that I feel better making some random acts of weirdness. This is one of those times.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Character Acting With Rob Paulsen

via Voice Over Times

Aspiring voice actors are now able to receive coaching from Rob Paulsen, one of the most prolific cartoon voice over artists in North America.

Entering what he calls “the third act of his career,” he announced on Talkin Toons that, for the first time, he is offering voice over coaching which is available privately via Skype or phone and live in LA.

The chance to learn from Paulsen has been in the hearts and minds of aspiring voice actors for generations as they’ve listened to him give life to a huge array of iconic characters such as Yahkko, Pinky and Dr. Scratch ‘n’ Sniff from The Animaniacs, Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, Raphael from the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Arthur in “The Tick,” title role in “The Mask,” title role in ‘Mighty Max,” Carl Wheezer from “Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius,” Jack Fenton in “Danny Phantom,” Bobble in the “Tinkerbell” – and that’s just to name a few. Having voiced over 2000 animated episodes, Paulsen’s IMDb reads like a novel.

Paulsen also released the news that he will be hosting voice over events across the US and according to his website the first one is slated for June 25-26 in LA.

Visit Paulen’s website Rob Paulsen Live for more details.

Building a Voice Over Studio/Booth Video

Why the World Needed Davy Jones

Why We Needed Davy Jones

MAR 1 2012, 2:20 PM ET 10
The Monkees' singer reminded us of the artifice of pop—and its power.
monkees 1966 group shot apimages.jpg
The Monkees in 1966. Clockwise from top right: Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith. Davy Jones, and Peter Tork. (AP Images)
"You don't create me, I am me," Johnny Rotten said in The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, but it might be even more true of Monkees singer and chief tambourinist, Davy Jones, who died on Wednesday at 66. If Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Don Kirshner hadn't invented Jones, he would have had to invent himself. Like Rotten, he remains a singular archetype in rock history, part of a band that would have been first-ballot shoo-ins in any Rock and Roll Hall of Fame devoted to the real history of the genre. The Monkees weren't the first packaged rock band, but they might have been the best, and no Monkee seemed more comfortable with this legacy than Davy Jones.

Jones was the purest Monkee, the one least likely suspected of authenticity.
As soon as the notion of authenticity became introduced into rock, the fully manufactured rock group became not only inevitable but utterly necessary. But such was the Monkees' achievement that they continue to serve a far richer role in history. As the first massively successful manufactured act, they also hold the distinction of providing a doorway to deeper truths to generations of young rock listeners: the knowledge that there are such things as session musicians, professional songwriters, script supervisors, and stunt vocalists. The reason for the Monkees' success was precisely because of the aforementioned assemblage, but an invented band requires public faces, and Jones—5'3", Mancunian—was perfectly cast. In early episodes of the Monkees' TV series, a recurring special effect was to make cartoon stars sparkle out of his eyes. They were hardly needed.
The least conflicted member of the group, Jones was probably the purest as well, the Monkee least likely suspected of authenticity. The bulk of his most famous songs were unapologetic pop—rock music in vague presentation only. In that way, Jones was never pretending at all. Famously appearing in the cast of Oliver!on the same Ed Sullivan episode where the Beatles debuted, Jones's career path was to be an entertainer, at which he was effortlessly real. It would be a stretch to call him an underrated songwriter, given his propensity for total schlock, but—deep in the Monkees' catalogue—he's just as likely to surprise the listener as a lost countrypolitan nugget by Mike Nesmith or a minor fuzz-pop masterpiece by the songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Witness, mainly, the wistful Jones-penned "You and I," from the post-Peter Tork album Instant Replay, featuring a burning and instantly identifiable guitar part by Neil Young.