Last Train To Clarksville (1966)

Time for another round of Throwback Thursday!

This is where we get to listen to some great music from days gone by. 

Today’s music comes to us from 1966.  

Wikipedia tells us this about today’s tune:

The song, written by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, has been compared to the Beatles' "Paperback Writer", particularly in its "jangly" guitar sound, chord structure, and vocal harmonies. The Beatles' song had been number one in the U.S. charts three months earlier.

Hart got the idea for the lyrics when he turned on the radio and heard the end of "Paperback Writer". Thinking Paul McCartney was singing "take the last train", he decided to use the line himself after he found out that 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 the song might lead to a successful single, which it did. To help ensure that, he decided to include a distinctively rhythmic lyric and wrote in the "Oh No-No-No, Oh No-No-No" lyrics as a response to the Beatles' famous "Yeah Yeah Yeah", looking for a guitar riff to match that in the studio.

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 to a soldier leaving for the Vietnam War.

There is a controversial possibility 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", a common location name in the U.S., is in the song's title, the video accompanying the song on the Monkees' TV show depicted a sign pointing to "Clarkesville", which is a much more rare spelling, now used only for a town in Georgia.

See you again soon! Share with me your thoughts about this theme.  If you have a favorite oldies song or artist, let me know and I’d be happy to feature them.

You can now join in the fun! Just add your Throwback Thursday link to the list below.  Your song choice can be from any era, so long as it is at least 10 years old. 


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