"Last Train to Clarksville" is the debut single by The Monkees, released August 16, 1966, and later included on the group's 1966 self-titled album, which was released on October 10, 1966. The song 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.
The song 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 riff also resembles the one in "Blue's Theme"[original research?] by Davie Allan and the Arrows, from the Peter Fonda biker movie The Wild Angels.
The plot involves a phone call to his wife or girlfriend from a young man who has been drafted, requesting that she "get the last train to Clarksville" so that they might have one last night together before he has to leave on his morning train, because he doesn't know if he will be coming back from the war.
The song was used in a U.S. Army-produced film, shown to new inductees as early as November 1967, and at least in the big induction center at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. It played as the film showed new recruits getting off the train at Ft. Jackson, and would get a big laugh from the men watching.
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Ed Bruce, in a March 1967 single on RCA.
Los Larks, in 1967 on their album Sound Go-Go.
The Shadows, in 1968 on their album From Hank, Bruce, Brian & John (instrumental version).
Riblja Corba, a 1980s Serbian rock band did a cover "Zadnji voz za Cacak".
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."
The Grascals recorded a bluegrass rendition of the song on their album The Famous Lefty Flynn's.
George Benson, in 1968 on his album Shape of Things to Come (instrumental).
Michael Jackson, recorded a more up tempo version of the song in the summer of 2000.
Plastics released a cover of the song on a 7" flexi disc included with their first album "Welcome Plastics".
The Crawdaddies in 2001 recorded a Cajun Rock version of the song for their album "Spice it Up"