I don’t know if you have ever heard “I don’t like Mondays”, not the affirmation, but the song by The Boomtown Rats. Even if the title seems like a common thing to say on a Monday morning, the story behind it is anything but ordinary. You won’t believe what inspired the song in the first place, except for the obvious hate for Mondays.
The song was released in 1979 as the lead single for the album The Fine Art of Surfacing and it became the biggest UK hit of that year. It remained in first place on UK Singles Chart for four weeks that summer. But to what does the band owe a part of the credits for the song’s success you may ask? Well, the answer is a bit grimmer than you would expect.
Picture this. It’s January 29, 1979, a typical Monday morning in San Diego. Everybody, bright and early leaving their homes to either go to school or work. Brenda Spencer, 16 years old at the time, was living just across the street from The Grover Cleveland Elementary School and was looking irritatedly out the window at the children who were being dropped off at school. Sounds boring, huh? Well, Brenda sure felt extremely bored because she got a really bad idea. She remembered that her father gave her a special gift last Christmas.
To give you a little bit of context before we go on, her parents were separated and she was living with her alcoholic father in poverty. Both of them used to sleep on a mattress on the floor surrounded by booze bottles.
Now, where was I? Ah, yes, the Christmas gift. This gift was extremely inappropriate for a 16-year-old, namely a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 rounds of ammunition. When Brenda was asked about this she just explained: “I asked for a radio and he bought me a gun. I felt like he wanted me to kill myself.” As you could probably tell, Brenda was suffering from depression, but never got the medical attention she needed.
Anyway, back to the story. She took the rifle out of its case, armed it, and started shooting. Many children and a police officer were injured and the principal and a custodian were killed trying to protect the kids. She, then, locked herself up in her house as the police were trying to negotiate with her to surrender. She stayed in her room a few hours but came down after the police promised her a Burger King meal.
When Spencer was asked about it by a reporter, she declared, in an aloof manner: “I don’t like Mondays.”
And that is the infamous story that inspired the song I don’t like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats. Creepy, sad, terrifying, but makes for a great hit. I hope you will give the song a listen. It’s actually a lyrical masterpiece in my opinion and the melody perfectly captures the atmosphere of a rushed and dreary Monday morning.
What can I say…Mondays… am I right?