Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

I Don’t Like Mondays

(Actually, I really don’t have anything against Mondays)

When I was in my teens, radio wasn’t quite like it is today, where everything feels so compartmentalized and genreficied (I think I just made that up). Sure, you had stations that were rock, and stations that were country, and stations that were dance and new wave, and yet, it seemed like there was a lot more freedom in playlists. Yes, popular songs got a lot more airplay, but you could hear plenty of unusual songs, and more so-called ‘deep cuts’ on the album-oriented radio stations than you get today.

In the latter half of 1979 and early 80, one of the songs that got a lot of airplay was I Don’t Like Mondays, by the Boomtown Rats.

According to Bob Geldof, the Rats’ singer, and writer of the song, the song is based on a real-life event. Geldof was doing an interview at a radio station when the story came out over the station’s telex machine, a terrible story of a sixteen year-old girl who opened fire on a school playground. When asked why she did it, her response was “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”

It’s a grisly tale. The song itself was released in the UK in July (and became a #1 hit). It didn’t fare so well here, but received regular play. I remember hearing the song a lot, but the song’s true inspiration was just a rumor. It certainly sounded plausible, but so did the stories that Mikey, the kid from the Life cereal commercials, had died from eating Pop Rocks and Pepsi (this might have gotten started from a joke that made the rounds, that said Mikey died because “he ran out of Life”, haw haw). In the pre-internet stone age I lived in, there was just no reliable way to prove anything. In some ways, it was a lot more fun back then. /nostalgia

Inspiration strikes in funny ways. We are constantly bombarded with information, sights, sounds, images, from all over. A story can come from anywhere: a woman sitting on a park bench; a spilled bag of flour; a report heard on the news. It’s a process I still don’t understand, but I’m always happy when it strikes—although I may not like the ‘inciting incident’ all that much.

2 Responses

  1. Mikey! He likes it!

    I love that ideas can come out of really random places. The key for me is to write them down when they come or they're lost forever.

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