Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monkees – "Last Train to Clarksville" (1966)

'Cause I'm leavin' in the morning
And I must see you again

The focus of the recent 2 or 3 lines "Tour de Missouri" was four days of bike rides on the Katy Trail, a recreational rail trail that follows the right-of-way of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas ("M-K-T") Railroad in central Missouri.  (That railroad's stock exchange symbol was KT -- so it was commonly referred to as the "Katy.")

The Katy linked St. Louis, Kansas City, Joplin, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston.  It didn't pass through Clarksville, Arkansas, or Clarksville, Missouri, or Clarksville, Texas, or any other Clarksville – so the "Last Train to Clarksville" was not a Katy train.

A Katy Trail sign (Augusta, MO)
The Katy Trail follows the M-K-T's main line from suburban St. Louis to Clinton, Missouri, a small city southeast of Kansas City.  It's 240 miles long, which makes it the longest rail trail in the United States.

I described day one of the "Tour de Missouri" in the previous 2 or 3 lines.  It went relatively smoothly, but day two of the journey had a number of ups and downs.  

After spending the first night of the trip with friends in a suburb of St. Louis, I rose early the next morning and headed for Augusta, Missouri (population 253), to rent a bike for my second day's ride.

But the Augusta bike rental store wasn't open when I arrived at about 11 AM on a Tuesday.  

So I called the bike rental place in Defiance, which is about seven miles east of Augusta.  (Both businesses have the same owner.)  

Katy Bike Rentals (Defiance, MO)
The guy in charge of the Defiance store told me that the guy who ran the Augusta store usually didn't open until 4 PM on Tuesdays.  (If that was true, I'm not sure why he bothered opening on Tuesdays at all.)

I drove to Defiance on Missouri Route 94, a scenic highway that parallels the Missouri River.

Route 94 detour signs
Unfortunately, it had rained heavily the day before, and parts of Route 94 were under water.  So I had to take a long and winding detour to get to my destination.

Route 94: open for boats, but not for cars
When I finally arrived in Defiance, I got into my bike shorts and shirt, picked out a hybrid bike, and headed west along the trail.

But after riding about a mile, the bicycle's stem – the part that clamps on to the handlebars – became loose, which meant the handlebars were free to rotate forward and backward and to slide left and right while I was trying to ride:

I tried to keep the handlebars in place while riding back to Defiance for repairs, but it was impossible.  It looked like I was in for a long walk back to the bike shop to get the stem tightened.

But I was lucky.  I saw a biker going in the other direction shortly after I started walking, and flagged him down.  He had the tool I needed to tighten the stem and continue my trip without further delay.

A few miles west of Defiance, I saw a sign for the "Daniel Boone Judgment Tree Memorial."  

Boone, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1734, moved from Kentucky to Missouri in 1799.  What later became the Louisiana Territory was owned at that time by the Spanish.  

The famous frontiersman was granted 850 acres by the Spanish government and appointed to hear disputes between other settlers and issue judgments to settle those disputes.  He held court under a large tree on his son Nathan's land.  

In 1820, Boone died at Nathan's house in Defiance, which is open to the public today:

The Nathan Boone Home (Defiance, MO)
I biked west until I reached Dutzow, a small town that was settled by German immigrants in the 1830s:

Dutzow, MO
After quaffing a couple of bottles of V8 juice, I turned east and headed back to Defiance.

The area between Defiance and Dutzow is home to several wineries:

I had planned to stop on the return trip to have a beer at the Augusta Brew Haus, a microbrewery that gets good reviews and is located right on the trail.  

But it appears that the owners of that microbrewery are Third-Day Adventists, because it was closed.

That's a shame, because the list of beers on tap looked pretty good:

I was plenty thirsty when I finally made it back to Defiance.  (I had ridden about 30 miles altogether, which is nothing special, but is longer than I usually ride.)  

After chastising the bike-rental guy for not making sure my bike stem was tightened before renting me a bike, I headed to a dive bar across the street and had a pint of Faust, a Vienna-style lager brewed by Anheuser-Busch and sold only in the St. Louis area.  (Faust was originally brewed by Augustus Busch in 1884 for his friend Tony Faust, who owned a famous St. Louis restaurant.)

Speaking of the "Show-Me State," did you know that no state borders more other states than Missouri?  

One of the eight states that Missouri touches is Tennessee. (The others are Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.)

Missouri borders eight states
I guessing almost all of you could name Tennessee's two largest cities – Memphis and Nashville.  

Some of you will also know the next two biggest cities in the "Volunteer State" – Knoxville and Chattanooga.

But I'm betting that not a single one of you knew that the next biggest city in Tennessee is Clarksville, which is home to about 136,000 souls.

Tennessee borders eight states as well
A lot of people think that "Last Train to Clarksville" – the Monkees' first hit single – is about Clarksville, Tennessee.  

But Bobby Hart (who co-wrote the song and co-produced the record with Tommy Boyce) has said that "Last Train to Clarksville" has nothing to do with Tennessee's Clarksville.

Boyce and Hart also wrote "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" and "Valleri" for the Monkees, "Come a Little Bit Closer" for Jay and the Americans, and a number of other songs.

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart
But they saved their best song for themselves:  "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight," which was a top ten hit single for Boyce and Hart in 1968, is one of the best three-minute pop songs ever.

Click here to read what 2 or 3 lines had to say about that song.

Speaking of "Last Train to Clarksville," it was popular in the fall when I was in 9th-grade.  I was one of three student managers for my junior high school's undefeated basketball team.  (If I had gone to a junior high with a crappy team, I might have actually made the team rather than having to settle for keeping stats.)

One of the other managers was a guy named Bob.  Bob and I persuaded the third student manager that Bob had written the words to "Last Train to Clarksville."  (As I recall, we claimed that the Monkees had stolen the song.)   

Here's "Last Train to Clarksville," which clearly was influenced by the Beatles' "Paperback Writer":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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