What’s Goin’ On

Throwback: The Monkees

No. 1 today in 1966: 'Last Train to Clarksville'

The Monkees

Of all the things the Monkees were and weren't, nobody ever thought of them as protest singers. But it turns out their very first single, "Last Train to Clarksville"—which occupied the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1966—was a subtle jab at the Vietnam War.

Songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart claim the jangly tune is about a serviceman anxious to see his girl one more time before heading off to war. "Cause I'm leaving in the morning and I must see you again," he tells her, later adding, "And I don't know if I'm ever coming home."

The song's structure was heavily inspired by the Beatles, from the opening guitar riff reminiscent of "Paperback Writer," which hit No. 1 four months earlier, to the "Oh no no no" response to the "Yeah yeah yeah" of "She Loves You."

One other interesting fact about the song that launched the Monkees to fame and often opened their concerts: "Last Train to Clarksville" features only one member of the band, Micky Dolenz, who sang the lead vocal. Studio musicians handled everything else.

Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images