The song “Last Train to Clarksville” was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and was the debut single for The Monkees. They released it in 1966, and the song went to #1 on the U.S. billboard hot 100 and in Canada. It rose to #23 in the U.K. The song is also on their 1966 album The Monkees. The lyrics tell of a man who calls the woman he loves on the phone and asks here to meet him at the train station in Clarksville before he leaves and possibly may never see her again. Musically, the song has similarities to “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles, which had been on the charts earlier in the year. While The Beatles were known for their “yeah, yeah, yeah,” this song features an “Oh no-no-no.” Meanwhile, happening in the world and the news, there was the war in Vietnam. Although the lyrics do not explicitly state that the singer is part of the military and going off to war, it is a possible interpretation. Session musicians for this track were from Boyce and Hart’s band the Candy Store Prophets.
The Monkees were formed in Los Angeles in 1965 by Robert “Bob” Rafelson and Bert Schneider specifically for the television show The Monkees. The series aired from 1966 to 1968. They were to be an imaginary band who wanted to be The Beatles but were not that successful. Strangely enough, they sold more than 75 million records worldwide, and at the point in 1967 when The Monkees were at the height of their fame, they had outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined. Of course, time moved on and things changed. So goes Sixties rock music…The Monkees were Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith.