Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Bobby Hart

Ep. 38 - Bobby Hart

Last Train to Clarksville: The Man Behind The Monkees

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Scott and Paul head for the Hollywood hills to visit with Bobby about his early rockabilly beginnings; his life as a Brill Building staff writer with partner Tommy Boyce; how a scheming suitor stole Boyce's New York girlfriend and got rid of him by orchestrating a publishing deal on the West Coast that ultimately led to Boyce & Hart's greatest professional success; why Bobby couldn't let more than one Monkee into the studio at a time; and the reason he considers one his early R&B songs his "crowning achievement."     

The legendary songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart found early success with songs such as “Lazy Elsie Molly,” which was a Top 10 R&B hit for Chubby Checker, “Come a Little Bit Closer,” which was a Top 5 pop hit for Jay & The Americans, and the instrumental theme song for the long-running soap opera, Days of Our Lives. The pair are best known, however, for writing and producing more than 20 songs for The Monkees, including “Last Train to Clarksville,” “(Theme From) The Monkees,” “I Wanna Be Free,” “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” “She,” “Words,” and “Valleri.” As artists, the Grammy nominated duo found success in the late 1960s with the self-penned Top 40 hits “Out & About,” “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight,” and “Alice Long (You’re Still My Favorite Girlfriend).” Bobby Hart wrote a number of hit singles apart from Tommy Boyce, including “Hurt So Bad,” which was a hit for Little Anthony & The Imperials in 1965 before finding subsequent chart success with the Lettermen, Jackie DeShannon, and Linda Ronstadt, who made it a Top 10 pop hit in 1980. He also wrote Helen Reddy’s #1 single “Keep on Singing,” as well as Lane Brody’s #15 country hit “Over You,” which was included in the film Tender Mercies and earned Bobby Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations in 1983. He continued to score on the R&B and pop charts into the 1980s with New Edition’s “My Secret” and Robbie Nevil’s “Dominoes.” Most recently, the Monkees recorded Boyce & Hart’s “Whatever’s Right” on their critically acclaimed 2016 comeback album, Good Times. In 2015 Bobby published his autobiography, Psychedelic Bubble Gum: Boyce & Hart, The Monkees, and Turning Mayhem into Miracles.   


Songcraft's Bobby Hart Playlist: In the spirit of the Top 40 format, we've selected 40 cuts from the Bobby Hart songbook for your listening pleasure. Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy some of Bobby's best known songs. If you don't have a Spotify account, follow the prompts to sign up for free. Click this link to take you directly to the playlist in the Spotify web player.