Micky Dolenz Couldn’t Sing Some of the Original Lyrics of The Monkees’ 1st No. 1 Song

One of the songwriters behind many of The Monkees‘ songs revealed what he thought of Micky Dolenz’s vocals. Dolenz said he was unable to sing some of the lyrics from The Monkees’ first No. 1 hit. Subsequently, the songwriter told him what to do instead.

The Monkees' Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz playing songs near plants
The Monkees’ Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Micky Dolenz | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

What famous songwriters thought about Micky Dolenz’s and Davy Jones’ performances on their songs

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were some of The Monkees’ regular songwriters. In his 2015 book Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem Into Miracles, Hart discussed Dolenz and Davy Jones as vocalists. “When we first heard and got to work with the sounds of our new lead singers, I told Boyce, ‘I think we just hit the jackpot!'” Hart recalled. 

“Maybe, the previous potential producers had not been able to foster a sense of camaraderie with their novice lead singers or create a studio environment that was comfortable enough to bring out the best of their performances,” he said. 

Boyce & Hart were very pleased with Dolenz’s and Jones’ vocal performances on Boyce & Hart songs.

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Why the lyrics from 1 of The Monkees’ most famous songs were changed for Micky Dolenz

During a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Dolenz discussed singing “Last Train to Clarksville.” “Bobby Hart tells me I went in to sing one night,” he said. “He says that I’d learned the song and routined it. We’d done the keys and all that stuff.

“There was a bridge part of that song,” he continued. “You know the bit where I go ‘di da di di da di da?’ Well, there were words to that.”

Dolenz didn’t record the lyrics. “I said, ‘Bobby, I just can’t sing that,'” Dolenz added. “I just couldn’t learn it in time. He said ‘OK. ‘Well, we need to get it done so just go, ‘di da di di da di da.'”

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How The Monkees’ ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Last Train to Clarksville” became The Monkees’ first No. 1 hit in the United States. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week and lasted on the chart for 15 weeks in total. The Monkees released “Last Train to Clarksville” on their self-titled album. The album topped the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks. It lasted on the chart for 102 weeks in total, longer than any of the Prefab Four’s other albums.

“Last Train to Clarksville” was considerably less popular in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports the track reached No. 23 in the U.K., lasting on the chart for seven weeks. On the other hand, The Monkees was No. 1 for seven of its 37 weeks on the chart. It outperformed all the group’s subsequent albums in the U.K.

“Last Train to Clarksville” is a classic hit — even if Dolenz didn’t sing all of its original lyrics.

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