Take the ‘Last Train to Clarksville’: Clarksville or not?

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville’s name will forever be linked with railroads, thanks to The Monkees, who recorded “Last Train to Clarksville” in 1966.

“Take the last train to Clarksville, and I’ll meet you at the station,” they sang. On the surface, it might seem as though the group was singing about the decline of the city’s railroad transportation. But the song is a Vietnam War protest song and the Clarksville mentioned in the song may not even be Clarksville, even though the city is located near Fort Campbell, Ky., and the song is from the vantage point of a soldier who has just been drafted.

“We were just looking for a name that sounded good,” Bobby Hart, who co-wrote the song with Tommy Boyce, said, according to songfacts.com. “There’s a little town in Northern Arizona I used to go through in the summer on the way to Oak Creek Canyon called Clarksdale. We were throwing out names, and when we got to Clarksdale, 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 story line,” Hart added, according to the Web site. “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.”

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