In an August 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Micky Dolenz spoke about The Monkees' first single and #1 hit, "Last Train to Clarksville":
"It's about a guy going off to war. Frankly, it's an anti-war song. It's about a guy going to Clarksville, Tennessee, which is an army base if I'm not mistaken. He's obviously been drafted and he says to his girlfriend, 'I don't know if I'm ever coming home.' Considering that it was a Monkees song and the first one, I was always surprised that the record company even released it unless it just went right over their head.
"I don't recall recording it because there was just so much going on at that time. I was recording two or three songs a night after filming the TV show all day. [Co-writer] Bobby Hart tells me I went in to sing one night. He says that I'd learned the song and routined it. We'd done the keys and all that stuff. There was a bridge part of that song. You know the bit where I go 'di da di di da di da?' Well, there were words to that. I said, 'Bobby, I just can't sing that.' I just couldn't learn it in time. He said okay. 'Well, we need to get it done so just go, 'di da di di da di da.'
"I have a very fond memory of hearing it on the radio for the first time on KHJ, a big station out here at the time. Davy [Jones] and I were renting a house up in the Hollywood Hills. We were pulling up to this big, beautiful rented house in Beverly Hills when they went, 'Here they are, the Monkees' 'Last Train to Clarksville.' We pulled over and just had the biggest grins on our faces."
Click each photo below to listen to some interesting and informative discussions about The Monkees' 1966 recording sessions:
Released in late 2014, the 3-CD Rhino Handmade release is currently not available for ordering at the official online Monkees store. Customers are instead prompted to subscribe to an email list to be notified when it's back in stock. In late April 2015, Rhino alerted fans that less than 500 copies of the limited edition run of 4,000 remained.
Previously, Handmade sets for The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees and the Head soundtrack have sold out, along with The Headquarters Sessions and Summer 1967: The Complete US Concert Recordings. Still available, however, are boxes for both Instant Replay and The Monkees Present.
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart's "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" played a key role in the episode, and this article highlights an attempt Michael Nesmith made at the song when he produced a backing track for it on July 7, 1966 at RCA Hollywood. That session featured multiple guitarists including Peter Tork, along with Wrecking Crew aces Glen Campbell, James Burton, Al Casey, and Jim Helms. The bassist was Bill Pitman, while Hal Blaine played drums and Billy Preston handled organ duties.
Nesmith's backing track never received a vocal and went unheard until 2006 when it was released on a deluxe edition of The Monkees' debut album. Boyce & Hart later cut their own (drastically different) version, and it was this take that was ultimately included on The Monkees.
The Monkees' debut single, "Last Train to Clarksville," was first recorded on this day in 1966 at RCA Victor Studio B in Hollywood. Written and produced by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and released by Colgems on August 16 (backed with Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "Take a Giant Step"), the song debuted on the Billboard charts on September 3 at #101. By November 5, The Monkees had scored their first #1 single, knocking off "96 Tears" by Question Mark & The Mysterians. The Recording Industry Association of America awarded "Last Train to Clarksville" (and The Monkees' debut album) a gold record on October 27.
Purchase The Monkees (Super Deluxe Edition) from Rhino Handmade
Here are the CD sleeves for The Monkees (Super Deluxe Edition). These might come in handy for your iTunes library, too! Click each image to enlarge...
Andrew Sandoval commented on the review on Facebook:
Great review of the new The Monkees Super Deluxe Box Set. The one track that they are upset that is missing - Michael Nesmith's vocal version of "I Don't Think You Know Me" - was actually completed after the first album. So, it really belongs on a "More Of The Monkees" Super Deluxe Edition. I sure hope it does, at least. If not, you can find it on the 2006 Deluxe or 1987's Missing Links. All of these compilations are carefully thought out. And someone else stumbled on my secret. If you play the set backwards - Disc 3, then 2 & 1 - you get everything chronologically: Disc 3 pre-Monkees, Disc 2 Making "The Monkees," Disc 1 the album as released and then the TV mixes.
Monkees Farewell Tour
Dolenz sings Nesmith