The Monkees are touring again

The popular band from the 1960s are starting a new tour on April 3rd. Here is a live performance of their big hit Last Train to Clarksville from their 2019 tour.

The song is catchy and upbeat. What I did not realize until very recently is that “And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home”, the last line of the chorus, is an indirect reference to a soldier about to be shipped off to Vietnam, which gives it a much darker meaning


  1. Bruce says

    Yes, and the coincidence of the Clarksville name (for TN not AZ) makes the subtle Vietnam reference unforgettably eerie.

  2. consciousness razor says

    Only two of the original four are still alive: Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith.
    As you can see in the video, there are ten musicians on stage. Some light googling hasn’t helped me to figure out who any of the other eight are. It’s sad (but bog-standard with solo artists and such) that their web pages, promotional posters, tweets, etc., don’t share any information about the other musicians … nothing that’s easy to find at least. It’s just “Mike & Micky.”

  3. Roj Blake says

    Mano, I don’t know when you arrived in the US, but if you were still in Sri Lanka the Vietnam war may not have weighed as heavily on you. As an Australian Monkees fan, I was in no doubt from first hearing that Boyce and Hart had written a cleverly disguised anti-war song. I was only 14, but loved the Monkees then, and still do now.

    As a new band with an interesting gestation, the Monkees didn’t have the leeway some other entertainers did.

  4. Roj Blake says

    A little info on the band I found:

    Micky’s sister, Coco Dolenz, singing backup vocals, and Christian Nesmith, Mike’s son, playing guitar. Christian’s musical partner, Circe Link, also sang backup vocals. this is from 2018, where I guess the video is from.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Roj Bloake @#4,

    I only came to the US after the war ended. I did follow the war but, as you point out, it did not directly affect Sri Lanka so it did not weigh heavily on us as it did in countries that were actually shipping off young people to fight and die there.

    By the way, when I entered university in Sri Lanka, I supported the US war, buying into all that stuff of the domino theory and fighting Communism. Within a couple of years, my views shifted radically. So my college years were not wasted and I learned some important things!

  6. Silentbob says

    So Mano, you don’t read your comments! 🙂

    Look, I don’t hate the Monkees. But their unabashed copying I do find a turn off. Like in Mano’s link it makes no bones about the fact that they were trying to copy the Beatles’ Paperback Writer (a clearly superior work IMHO). Right down to getting the title idea from a mishearing of the Beatles’ lyrics. And putting in, “Oh, no, no, no”, to have something like the Beatles’, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I get that all pop music borrows from the past, but with the Monkees it seems so slavishly derivative it’s borderline plagiarism which biases me against them. 🙁

    The song itself ain’t that bad.

  7. Mano Singham says

    silentbob @#7,

    So that’s where I learned about the Vietnam allusion! As I said in the post, I learned about it recently but could not recall where and did not think it worthwhile investigating. I do read all the comments but should have checked them to see if they had been the source.


  8. says

    Silentbob -- that was kinda the whole point of them, wasn’t it? Not the four guys, they were just young entertainers who got through the audition process, but the producers and the TV executives wanted an American Beatles (which ironically ended up with one Brit).

  9. publicola says

    Consciousness razor: a group of session musicians in LA known informally as “The Wrecking Crew” did most if not all of the music on the Monkees’ original recordings. There is a documentary on Hulu called “The Wrecking Crew” that you might find interesting. I was astonished at the number of well-known recordings that these musicians played on! It may even be on youtube.

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