Album: The Monkees, 1966
Justification: I have no problem with the Monkees as a manufactured pop group – hell, I had the Banana Splits on here just under a year ago – and I’ve always been fond of this song. However, the reason that the band’s debut single came to mind was because of an article in, of all things, Cracked which made me aware of something I’d never noticed before. Underneath that shameless ‘Paperback Writer’ rip off riff and cod-classical bridge, writers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart had snuck in a sly counter-cultural message.
See, this jaunty tune written for a TV show about a made up band is actually a Vietnam War protest song.
It’s so easy to overlook it, though. I hadn’t realised until it was pointed out to me that the protagonist of the song is clearly heading back to Clarksville for one last desperate night of passion before being shipped off to war, “…and I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.” And Boyce and Hart have confirmed that’s exactly what they were getting at, although it’s apparently a coincidence that there is indeed a town called Clarksville conveniently close to Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division (who were instrumental in the battle of Hamburger Hill a couple of years later) – they just liked how the name of the town scanned in the lyric.
So there you go. The Monkees, secret subversives of manufactured pop. Who knew?
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010 & 2011: Wow, nothing? Luckily the 1966 archive is easily the most well-populated one I have for the sixties thus far – it’s just hard to get videos for the period, you understand…
AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…