About the song

Ah, yes, The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” (1966). A song that epitomizes the infectious energy and youthful exuberance of mid-1960s pop music. While often overshadowed by the band’s television show, “Last Train to Clarksville” stands as a landmark single in its own right, a perfect encapsulation of the Monkees’ unique blend of British Invasion melodies and American pop sensibilities.

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Composed by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, “Last Train to Clarksville” wasn’t originally intended for The Monkees. The pair, known for crafting hits for artists like The Beatles and The Majestics, initially offered the song to The Byrds. However, the folk-rock outfit declined, paving the way for The Monkees to snatch up this soon-to-be smash.

The song’s brilliance lies in its simplicity. A driving fuzz-toned guitar riff lays the foundation, punctuated by the unmistakable four-on-the-floor drumbeat. Micky Dolenz’s energetic vocals, characteristically high-pitched and brimming with youthful enthusiasm, propel the narrative forward. The lyrics themselves are a delightful slice of teenage rebellion. A young man pleads with his girl to catch the “last train to Clarksville”, a fictional town presumably far away from the constraints of their current reality. Their desire to escape the mundane and embark on a spontaneous adventure resonates with anyone who’s ever felt the itch to break free from routine.

“Last Train to Clarksville” wasn’t just a catchy tune, it was a cultural phenomenon. Released in August 1966, the single rocketed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, cementing The Monkees’ status as international pop stars. The song’s success was further amplified by its frequent appearances on their hit television series, being featured in a record-breaking seven episodes.

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However, the origin story of The Monkees themselves adds another layer of intrigue to the song. Unlike most bands of the era, The Monkees were initially a manufactured pop group, assembled by music producer Don Kirshner based on their looks and comedic timing rather than their musical prowess. Micky, along with bandmates Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, were primarily actors who learned their instruments on the job.

Despite the initial skepticism surrounding their musical legitimacy, “Last Train to Clarksville” proved their doubters wrong. The song showcased their ability to deliver a powerful and captivating pop performance, even if they weren’t the ones crafting the melodies behind the scenes.

Today, “Last Train to Clarksville” remains a timeless classic. Its enduring appeal lies in its infectious energy, relatable lyrics, and its embodiment of a specific era in pop music history. It’s a song that continues to spark nostalgia for those who remember its initial chart-topping run, while also captivating new generations with its unadulterated pop enthusiasm. So, the next time you hear that iconic guitar riff, take a moment to appreciate the simple brilliance of “Last Train to Clarksville” and its lasting impact on the world of pop music.

Video

Lyrics

“Last Train To Clarksville”

Take the last train to Clarksville
And I’ll meet you at the station
You can be here by four thirty
‘Cause I made your reservation
Don’t be slow, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

‘Cause I’m leavin’ in the morning
And I must see you again
We’ll have one more night together
‘Til the morning brings my train
And I must go, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home

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Take the last train to Clarksville
I’ll be waiting at the station
We’ll have time for coffee flavored kisses
And a bit of conversation
Oh… Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

Take the last train to Clarksville
Now I must hang up the phone
I can’t hear you in this noisy
Railroad station all alone
I’m feelin’ low. Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home

Take the last train to Clarksville
And I’ll meet you at the station
You can be here by four thirty
‘Cause I made your reservation
Don’t be slow, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home

Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville
Take the last train to Clarksville…