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What The Monkees’ songwriter thought of a jazz version of ‘Last Train to Clarksville’

The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” appeared on the first album a certain jazz singer ever bought. She subsequently covered the track on one of her albums. One of the Prefab Four’s regular songwriters responded to the song’s jazz cover.

Cassandra Wilson is a jazz singer. During an interview with Bomb in 1999, she said the first album she ever bought was the Monkees’ self-titled debut album, which includes “Last Train to Clarksville.” Wilson was asked if she bought the album because she saw the group on TV.

“Yes,” she remembered. “I always saw The Monkees out of the corner of my eye when I was taking my piano lessons. Every week Saturday around three or four o’clock, then it came at the end of my lesson.”

“My brothers were watching it in the next room and I was really distracted,” she added. “I would try to do my lesson and watch The Monkees.” Wilson said her piano teacher didn’t mind her watching The Monkees because he had such a relaxed approach to teaching. She later added a cover of “Last Train to Clarksville” to her album New Moon Daughter.

TIED TOGETHER: How the Monkees’ studio engineer created train sounds on “Last Train to Clarksville.”

Bobby Hart co-wrote many of the Prefab Four’s songs, including “Last Train to Clarksville.” In his 2015 book Psychedelic Gumball: Turning Boyce & Hart, The Monkees and Chaos into Miracles, Hart discussed some covers of his songs. “I enjoy hearing my songs in commercials, and I’m aware that my lyrics are sometimes used as instructional examples on college campuses,” he wrote. “I enjoy coming across stuffed animals programmed to play one of my compositions.

“I enjoy listening to unusual song interpretations, including versions of ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ by popular bluegrass group The Grascals and jazz artist Cassandra Wilson, ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ by the Sex Pistols and J-Love and Alicia Keys is taking over ‘Hurt So Bad,'” he continued.

TIED TOGETHER: The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” was almost named after a real Arizona town

The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” was the group’s debut single and their first #1 single in the United States. Corresponding The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hitsit reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week.

According to Billboard, the tune was the third highest-grossing song by the Prefab Four. The only two Monkees songs that were more popular in the United States were “Daydream Believer” and “I’m a Believer”. Both of these tracks were #1 singles that stayed longer at the top of the charts.

“Last Train to Clarksville” was a hit – and Hart appreciated Wilson’s rendition of it.

TIED TOGETHER: Micky Dolenz was surprised the Monkees were allowed to release Last Train to Clarksville

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