Last Train to Clarksville
|"Last Train to Clarksville"|
US single cover
|Single by The Monkees|
|from the album The Monkees|
|B-side||"Take a Giant Step"|
|Released||16 August 1966|
|Recorded||25 July 1966|
RCA Victor Studios, Studio A
|The Monkees singles chronology|
"Last Train to Clarksville" was the debut single by The Monkees. It was released August 16, 1966 and later included on the group's 1966 self-titled album, which was released on October 10, 1966. The song, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, was recorded at RCA Victor Studio B in Hollywood on July 25, 1966 and was already on the Boss Hit Bounds on 17 August 1966. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 on November 5, 1966. Lead vocals were performed by The Monkees' drummer Micky Dolenz. "Last Train to Clarksville" was featured in seven episodes of the band's television series, the most for any Monkees song.
The song, written by the songwriting duo Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, has been compared to The Beatles' "Paperback Writer", particularly the "jangly" guitar sound, the chord structure, and the vocal harmonies. The Beatles song had been number one in the US charts three months earlier.
The lyrics tell of a man phoning the woman he loves, urging her to meet him at a train station in Clarksville before he must leave, possibly forever. There was no explicit reference to war in the song but its last line, "And I don't know if I'm ever coming home", was an indirect reference about a soldier leaving for the Vietnam War.
It has often been presumed that the song refers to Clarksville, Tennessee, which is near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the 101st Airborne Division, which was then serving in Vietnam. However, according to songwriter Bobby Hart, that was not the case. Instead, according to Hart, "We were just looking for a name that sounded good. There's a little town in northern Arizona I used to go through in the summer on the way to Oak Creek Canyon called Clarkdale. We were throwing out names, and when we got to Clarkdale, we thought Clarksville sounded even better. We didn't know it at the time, [but] there is an Army base near the town of Clarksville, Tennessee — which would have fit the bill fine for the storyline. We couldn't be too direct with The Monkees. We couldn't really make a protest song out of it — we kind of snuck it in".
Although "Clarksville" is in the song title, the video accompanying the song on the Monkees' TV show showed a sign pointing to "Clarkesville".
Hart got the idea for the lyrics when he turned on the radio and heard the end of The Beatles' "Paperback Writer". He thought Paul McCartney was singing "Take the last train", and decided to use the line when he found out McCartney was actually singing "Paperback Writer". Hart knew that The Monkees TV series was being pitched as a music/comedy series in the spirit of The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night, so he was hoping that by emulating The Beatles, this song might lead to a successful single, which it did. To help ensure that, he decided to include a distinctive guitar riff and wrote in the "Oh No-No-No, Oh No-No-No" lyrics as a response to The Beatles' famous "Yeah Yeah Yeah".
Although LA's "Wrecking Crew" provided the instrumental backing for many of the early Monkees' songs, Boyce and Hart's band Candy Store Prophets did the session work for this song. The lead guitar part was written and played by Hollywood session musician Louie Shelton who would eventually become a mainstay on Monkees recordings.
Riblja Čorba version
|"Zadnji voz za Čačak"|
|Single by Riblja Čorba|
|B-side||"Lud sto posto"|
|Released||May 13, 1987|
|Songwriter(s)||Boyce and Hart, Bora Đorđević|
|Riblja Čorba singles chronology|
B-side features the song "Lud sto posto" ("100% Crazy").
The single was not available in the shops, but given as a gift with an issue of Politika Ekspres
- "Zadnji voz za Čačak" - 2:44
- "Lud sto posto" - 4:15
- Bora Đorđević - vocal
- Miša Aleksić - bass guitar
- Vidoja Božinović - guitar
- Nikola Čuturilo - guitar
- Vicko Milatović - drums
- Ed Bruce covered the song on a March 1967 single on RCA.
- Bluegrass artists Jim & Jesse McReynolds recorded an instrumental version on their 1972 Hilltop Records album Mandolin Workshop.
- A cover by Plastics appears on the 1979 album Welcome Plastics. A rerecorded version was released on a flexi-disc coupled with the 1981 album Welcome Back.
- A cover by Cassandra Wilson appears on her 1995 album New Moon Daughter.
- On January 15, 2008, a cover of the song was made available as downloadable content for the music video game series Rock Band. *The January 2009 issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine lists The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" as fourth on its list of Rock Band's "Five Most Unexpectedly Rockin' Downloadable Songs".
- Four Tops covered the song on their album Reach Out, issued in July 1967.
- Kids Incorporated covered the song in 1985 in the Season 2 episode "The Abominable Show-Man".
- Australian independent band Woodlock covered the song in 2016.
- The Monkees Greatest Hits Rhino Entertainment R2 75785 Liner notes
- "KHJ's 'Boss 30' Records In Southern California! Issue No. 59 - Previewed August 17, 1966". 1966-08-17. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
- Ashley Brown, ed. (1990). Marshall Cavendish Illustrated History of Popular Music. Six (Reference ed.). Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 1-85435-021-8.
- "Last Train To Clarksville by The Monkees Songfacts".
- Kotal, Kent; Forgotten hits. "The Music of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart". Retrieved 5 February 2015.
- 'The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the 1960s TV Pop Sensation' by Andrew Sandoval, Thunder Bay Press, 2005, Page 46
- ARAX, MARK; FELDMAN, PAUL (24 June 1988). "OBITUARIES : Backed Up Major Artists : Jesse Ed Davis, 43; Noted Rock Guitarist" – via LA Times.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Last Train to Clarksville". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966".
- "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada".
- "Rock Band' Five Most Unexpectedly Rockin' Downloadable Songs", PlayStation: The Official Magazine (January 2009): 58.
- Kids Incorporated - Last Train To Clarksville (1985)
- "Last Train to Clarksville - Single by Woodlock on iTunes". iTunes. 16 September 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2018.