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Smokin' In The Boy's Room by Brownsville Station

Album: Yeah!Released: 1973Charted:
3
27
  • This was written by Brownsville Station lead singer/guitarist Michael "Cub" Koda. Koda wrote for various music magazines, including Goldmine, until he died in 2000.
  • This song is about a group of schoolboys who sneak out of class to smoke tobacco in the boys' bathroom, only to be found by the principal who reminds them "No smoking allowed in school." Cub Koda got the idea for the song from memories of hanging out at a movie theater with his childhood friends - they would smuggle cigarettes lifted from their parents into the men's room at the Clinton Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday nights. Coda says the "old duffer" who owned the theater would come after them, but never caught them in the act.

    When he found himself in a band, Koda drew from this experience to write the song, shifting the scene from the movie house to the schoolhouse. (thanks, Alec Thorp - Yorktown Heights, NY)
  • For school outcasts who often questioned authority, this was a very validating song. It became an anthem for frustrated youth who felt marginalized at school.
  • It took Koda just a half hour to write the song and an hour for the band to record it. They didn't think much of it, but the song became far and away their biggest hit. Brownsville Station - comprised of Koda, bass player Michael Lutz and drummer Henry Weck at the time - had released two album previous to Yeah! and were enjoying regional acclaim around Michigan when "Smokin' In The Boy's Room" took them to the national level.

    The band was known for their high-energy stage shows, which - along with a daring choice of stagewear - earned them a spot as the opening act for Slade on their 1974 UK tour.
  • Producer Doug Morris (also the owner of Big Tree Records) hated the song - he refused to release it as a 45 until a Portland, Maine, FM station started to play it off an LP. Afterwards, requests for the song streamed into the record company - it had over 100,000 orders for the single before Morris changed his mind and released it.
  • Mötley Crüe covered this song in 1985 on their album Theatre of Pain. It was their first US Top 40, hitting #16, and it brought the song to a new generation. The song's writer Cub Koda recalls joining Crüe on stage during a stop on their tour that year and watching the kids in the audience sing his song back to him. "I felt just like Chuck Berry," he said.
  • Let's address the apostrophe issue in this song. We list the title as it appeared on the album and single: "Boy's Room." This is bad grammar - "Boys' Room" or "Boys Room" would be correct, unless you were indicating a room that belonged to one particular boy.

    Like the digitally altered Star Wars releases, this apostrophe has been excised from the title in most listings of the song just like Greedo shoots at Han Solo. The Mötley Crüe version removed the apostrophe - they might be down with sneaking cigarettes at school, but not with misplaced punctuation.

    This bathroom sign dilemma does get confusing, especially when you consider that "men's room" is correct when "boy's room" is not (you can have a group of boys, but not a group of mens). Our suggestion is to leave out the apostrophe to remove the possessive, since the users of the bathroom don't own it. The "Boys Room" would then be a room boys could use to go to the bathroom.
  • This was included on the 2002 compilation CD Mullets Rock!, an album celebrating one of the most embarrassing hairstyles of all time and bands that wore them.
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Comments: 19

On January 13th 1974, "Smokin' In The Boy's Room" by Brownsville Station peaked at #3 (for 1 week) and spent 19 weeks on the Top 100...
Between 1972 and 1977 the group had seven Top 100 hits; with "Smokin'" being there biggest hit, there only other Top 40 hit was "Kings of the Party", which reached #31 in 1974.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Does anyone know how they got their name? Growing up, I always thought they were from Texas. Love these guys btw .. thanks.Scott123 - Rochester, Ny
Good point on tobacco!! I thought that I was the ONLY one who knew that IT was in the cigarette, NOT marijuana [after all, it "ain't" "Smokin' ain't at allowed at all", which WOULD be a pot ref;just a "at school", which also refers to the fact that these are underage MINORS using that ADULT product--like reading PLAYBOY in school!!]Steve - Whittier, Ca
kenny from winnipeg,

the song you mentioned, "i'm the leader of the gang" was originally done by Gary Glitter.
Jane - Austin, Tx
Kevin, you're missing the point. Yes, the song is juvenile, but it is supposed to be juvenile. The adult in me and the teacher in me can tell you smoking is bad for you and you should not break the rules, cut class, and slack like the singer does. I can even correct the singer's grammar, and tell him to say "smoking", not "smokin'", and "isn't", not "ain't". "Teacher, don't you fill me up with your rules" is a grammatical disaster, and if you want to be picky, the title should be "Smoking in the Boys' Room." "Boys'" is the plural possessive and should be used here since the bathroom is for all the boys, not just for one. My adult observations are moot. When I hear this song, I do not think like the adult that I am, or even like the kid that I was, because I never smoked, cut class, or broke the rules in any serious way. I think like the harmless rebel I wish I had had the nerve to be. The song is fun, and that's it.Jay - Brooklyn, Ny
I thought motley crue's version was betterAnna - Myrtle Beach, Sc
I was in high school when this song came out...so I can relate to it...givin' the teachers (educators) the bird...Geo - Altoona, Pa
This song is really awful. It's one of those songs that gives the 70s a bad name. It's so friggin juvenile, the notion that "smokin in the lavis cool." Maybe if the group members were 14 when they recorded it, it wouldn't be so bad, but they were men in their 20s. Ugh. Awful. Fortunately, it was the only hit for these meatheads.Kevin - Reading , Pa
The B-side to "Smokin' In The Boys Room" was a song called "I'm The Leader Of The Gang" and that song was covered by The Spice Girls! I dunno if it's on any of their albums but it's in that ridiculous little movie of theirs "Spice World".Kenny - Winnipeg, Canada
I'm a teacher, and I've written kids up for smoking, but I really like this song. It's good old fashioned garage rock, and a nice thumb of the nose at authorityJay - Brooklyn, Ny
When Motley Crue sang this, they changed the lyrics to reflect the names of the band members. In the original, it's "my buddy Fang, and me and Paul." In the Crue version, it's "my buddies Sixx, and Nick and Tom," which doesn't rhyme quite as well. When Brownsville performed live, they often would change clothes during the show.Jim - Aurora, Co
this song is a classic. Brownsville station was a great band. The album Yeah was all cover songs except for this and All night long. great band.Devon - Westerville, Oh
I always wondered what exactly they were smoking in the boys room...Deo - Annandale, Va
I used to know Cub Koda in the 1980's. He was a really nice guy and had a great guitar collection. One that stands out was this old Gibson acoustic pre-war he had. Wow, did that thing sound great! it is a shame he's gone, like I said, he as a nice guy.Jim - North Billerica, Ma
Cub Koda became a rock writer/reviewer in the years after brownsville station. He wrote for Goldmine...and i believe he passed away a couple years ago...Windle - Montgomery, Al
Motley crue's version of this was great, better than the original, thank god they are coming back!Cory - Vermilion, Oh
"I once heard that Brownsville Station was ZZTop before they made it big(ger). Could someone please clear this up for me.
- Chris, Victoria, TX" I can clear that up for you. NOT! ZZ Top were recording and well-known before Brownsville Station had this hit. They (Willie G and the Boys) weren't big stars yet but were on their way.
Shell - Riverdale, Ga
I once heard that Brownsville Station was ZZTop before they made it big(ger). Could someone please clear this up for me.Chris - Victoria, Tx
what's up with mullet hairstyles???????Pete - Nowra, Australia