Editor's Note: Story has been edited to correct the night of the concert to Tuesday, July 23rd.
If youre worried youve missed that proverbial last train to Clarksville, The Monkees keyboardist and bass player Peter Tork has good news.
Tork, 71, and the other surviving members of The Monkees one of the most successful musical groups of the past 50 years, mind you will perform in Raleigh on Tuesday.
In a telephone interview last week, Tork said the concert set list is nearly identical to the bands critically acclaimed tour late last year.
The current show with original Monkees Tork, Micky Dolenz and yes, even Michael Nesmith (Nesmith has rarely performed with the band since 1970) represents the whole of The Monkees songbook, from early hits like Last Train To Clarksville and (Im Not Your) Steppin Stone to deep cuts from later albums such as Headquarters.
Tork takes pride in those songs and the entire musical output of The Monkees, who recorded classics penned by icons such as Carole King, Neil Diamond, and Boyce and Hart.
What always surprises me when I look at it is the range of The Monkees songbook, he said. Great, great pop songwriters have contributed to this songbook. Its not The Beatles, its not The Stones, its not as consistent, its much more bubblegum and its much more targeted. Still, its one the great songbooks of all time.
The multimedia concert also includes rare films of the band in its heyday.
We do as good of a show as we know how, Tork said. We have a good time up there. Joking is part of what weve always done, so were going to keep on joking as part of what we do on stage.
Tork is alternately lighthearted and introspective discussing the sudden death of former bandmate Davy Jones, who died in February 2012.
When asked about the big hole left by Jones passing, Tork joked, Well, its not all that big. Davy wasnt very tall, you know!
Still, Tork admits its hard to address the issue.
Davy was a huge talent, he said. He was the most musical and actually the smartest of us all. He had the best raw brainage of the four of us. I had some times with David Jones that were among the most human of my entire life. And I miss that enormously. He brought a great deal to the table.
Although Jones death was sudden, Tork said Jones had not planned to join this tour.
Davy wasnt interested in doing a reprise of Headquarters, said Tork. He didnt feel like he participated in it very much, and Mike, Micky and I felt like it was our album.
Headquarters, The Monkees third album, was the first on which most songwriting and instrumental performances were by the band members themselves. On the first two albums, the group was barred from entering the studio except to add vocals once the instrumentation had been recorded.
While shows in the current tour pay homage to Jones, there are things the band cant do without him.
(When it) came time to sing Daydream Believer (Jones signature tune), we looked at each other and said none of us can sing the lead, Tork said. So we have someone from the audience come up representing the whole audience, you know, like it no longer belongs to us anymore, it belongs to the fans.
Bands place in culture
The Monkees legacy is a complicated one that continues to evolve. On one hand, the group is one of the most successful pop acts ever, outselling The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, combined, in 1967. On the other hand, they have been cursed as four talentless slobs and cheap imitations of The Beatles, in Torks words.
But Tork is fiercely proud of the bands place in American culture. The Emmy-winning The Monkees TV show, which debuted in 1966, is hailed as groundbreaking for its direction and as a precursor to MTV and reality TV.
We never said it or talked about it, Tork said, (but) The Monkees was the only TV show about adults that did not have a senior adult on the show. So it represented a new kind of egalitarian, were all in this together.
I cant tell you how many people (have) said they had half an hour of sanity every week, and that was in front of the television watching The Monkees. The kids felt seen. They felt here was a show about living life anyway. And I think that was a terribly important thing.