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I Don't Like Mondays

by

The Boomtown Rats



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This is about Brenda Spencer, a 16-year-old San Diego high school student who lived across from an elementary school. On Monday, January 29, 1979, she opened fire on the school with a rifle, killing 2 adults (including the principal) and injuring 9 kids before going back to her home. Police surrounded her home and waited for 7 hours until she gave herself up. In that time, she spoke with a reporter on the phone. When asked why she did it, she replied, "I just started shooting, that's it. I just did it for the fun of it. I just don't like Mondays. I just did it because it's a way to cheer the day up. Nobody likes Mondays."
This was #1 hit in 32 different countries, but it flopped in America, probably because the subject matter hit too close to home. Gun violence is a big problem in America.
At a basic level, this is often heard as a song lamenting the beginning of the work week. Some radio stations play this every Monday at a certain time.
Group leader Bob Geldof wrote this. He went on to organize charity efforts Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8, earning a KBE (the equivalent of knighthood given to people born outside of England) for his efforts. The Boomtown Rats played this as part of their set at Live Aid.
While in Atlanta touring, Bob Geldof heard the news story about Brenda Spencer. Geldof composed the song on the spot, originally as a reggae number. Back in Los Angeles after the tour, a studio demo was recorded with grand piano and vocals. By the time 'I Don't Like Mondays' was introduced onstage in Loch Lomond, Scotland, the song had been transformed dramatically.
Brenda Spencer's parents tried to have the single banned in the US, without success.
The video, directed by David Mallet, was one of the first to have a narrative "story" to it.
In the UK, the song won the prestigious Best Pop Song and Outstanding British Lyric categories at The Ivor Novello Awards. It was also voted 1979's "Single of the Year" in the British Pop and Rock awards. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 4)
Tori Amos covered this on her album Strange Little Girls. Every song on the album is a different take on a song written by a man.
Bob Geldof sang this song along with members of the Boomtown Rats and Travis at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London on July 2nd, 2005. Live 8 was a series of concerts, which occurred in the G8 nations and South Africa, that Geldof helped to organize in order to pressure world leaders to get rid of the debt of African nations. (thanks, Emily - Ottawa, Canada)
Geldof originally intended this to be a B-side and when Ensign put this out as a single, he protested, "You're mad, that's not a hit." However his record label people knew better.
The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats Artistfacts
More The Boomtown Rats songs
More songs performed at Live Aid
More songs that deal with gun violence
More songs with days of the week in the title
More murder ballads

Comments (37):

I have learned about the origin of this song only just now, listening to a BBC documentary about it (Classic Singles with Tony Visconti). Some more information from that programme, as recalled by Bob Geldof.

It's true that the song wasn't really banned in the States. What apparently happened is that the father of Brenda Ann Spencer threatened Columbia Records to sue if they released the single. Even though Spencer isn't actually mentioned in the lyrics, Columbia eventually decided to pull the single one day after release. I don't know if that decision was reversed at some point; the single was released and played by some radio stations, but its unavailability probably didn't help its chart results.

Geldof stated that Brenda Spencer wrote to him, telling him she didn't regret what she did. as otherwise he wouldn't have written the song which made both of them more famous; but Geldof would have none of it. He says that it's not a song about her or what she did, but about amorality in general, and that sometimes the quest to find a reason behind something is futile, because there simply isn't one. He said that Spencer was just the "fool in the middle", and that he won't let a murderer's statements weigh on his conscience.

He also said that after having played it at Live Aid, it started to assume a second, opposite meaning, in that you don't always need a reason to do something good.
- Daniel, Lucerne, Switzerland
I heard a live radio interview with Bob Geldof. He said that the US record company would not release the song as a single because Brenda Spencer's father threatened to sue if it was released as a single. Bob was not happy with that decision and he regrets that it was not a single in the US.
- Johnny, Pomona, CA
My daughter and I love this song. She and her dad would dance to this song all the time. I learned later that it was based on a true story and we liked it even more after that!
- michele, princeton, NJ
Oh Great now when i get to high school i want to play this the first monday of the year.
- Lylah, Grand Junction, CO
Bob Geldof is very funny and seriouseat the same time but he mostly is famouse for playing in the roll as "Pink Floyd" in "Pink Floyd The Wall". Great actor and definetly reveals his real rough but saft voice.
- Lylah, Grand Junction, CO
I lived with a friend of mine in 1980 at his house in the San Carlos area of San Diego. It was 3 houses away from the girls house and grammer school where this happened. I remember him telling me the whole story. I also remember him telling me of a few other crazy things that happened in this same neighborhood that I won't go into but were bad. And to look at the neighborhood it is very "normal" You never know I guess. My friend told me that The Boontown Rats were supposed to play a concert in San Diego soon after this song came out and the city council voted to ban the concert. I used to drive by that house everyday for a few months. It was almost 30 yrs ago but still seems so real and present.
- john, new haven ct, CT
My children's school apparently played this over the loudspeakers this morning before morning announcements. Maybe someone in the office doesn't realize the meaning behind the song? Yeesh, awkward!
- Susan, Airdrie, -
Great song, I love the instrumentals...I was kind of surprised to learn what it was about. Definitely grabbed me on the first listen.
- Phoebe, Belchertown, MA
I think the video clip very much helped make this a hit. However many countries did not have music video TV shows at that time. I remember it was #1 for weeks on end.
- Dean, Sydney, Australia
I remember the story...and Brenda Spencer's father stated to the press, "I don't why she did it ... she was as good as gold". I thought it was in Ohio though.
- john, Seattle, WA
I feel really stupid after reading everyone's comments. I just heard about this news story of Brenda Spencer yesterday on a Discovery Channel, I heard that she said "I don't like Mondays" then thought to myself, "isn't that a song?"...then I thought, no way is that 'song' about this <---
So I look all this up today, I never knew after 28 years that, that song was about this girl who did this shooting in a school yard. I remember I was around 10 when I saw the video on Mtv and then when I was 12, I hated Sunday's...and how I hated that all my friends liked this Monday song, and I basically gave it no chance, because it wasn't about Sunday.....wow, I feel like I was left out of a big secret everyone else knew about..lol
- Gina, Eastlake, OH
I was actually there at the radio station where Bob Geldof first heard about the news of the shooting. I was working in the news department at WRAS (Georgia State University)in Atlanta when the Boomtown Rats were in for an interview. Being a college / alternative station, we were the only ones playing their music at the time. The tele-type machine had alarm bells for big or breaking stories and it was going crazy at the time with news of the shooting. The guys in the band heard all the bells and asked someone at the station what was going on. And now you know the rest of the story.
- Tom, Atlanta, GA
Just to set one record straight... a "Telex machine" is a teletypewriter, which was introduced in the 1920's and was still the primary way of sending news stories around the globe until the advent of the Internet. Examples can be seen in "Good Morning Vietnam" and "All the President's Men"... in the former, it's the machine Robin Williams tears the paper from when he gets into trouble for broadcasting news of the tavern bombing, in the latter it's the machine seen printing the stories of the Watergate prosecutions at the end. In the song, it refers the machine that was printing out the story of the shooting at the radio station where Bob Geldoff was being interviewed when it happened. Today it exists primarily in the form of TTY phones for the deaf and the TTY communications protocol (the forerunner of the eight-bit ASCII code).
- Gregg, Middletown, CT
The intro to this song was featured on an episode of House last season with Dave Matthews as a guest. They were playing the piano together.
- Tom, Hershey, PA
This song is one of my three favourite songs. The other two are Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty and Come Up To See Me by Nik Kershaw. You may count my musicl taste as quite old fashioned as I am only 14, but if you do, up yours, Mister!!!
p.s I was quite shocked to hear the story behind this song! What a psycho!!!
- Katie, Normanton, England
I agree with steph, great version with Bon Jovi on the one wild night live 1985-2001 CD
- Alfie, Chelmsford, England
This song was most definitely played in Seattle, Washington,USA, as I heard it many times on the radio when it first came out. I immediately recalled it when I heard about the Virginia Tech school shooting just recently. I bought the Boomtown Rats/I Don't Like Mondays CD on eBay ASAP as I couldn't exactly remember how the song went. The version I on the CD I bought it fantastic and superbly recorded. I just LOVE the piano music in it. I'd dearly like to find sheet music to it, so I could learn to play it. I have the lyrics printed, but I'd like to know the chords & how they do the piano riff at the very beginning of the song. I like the song because it's very catchy, well-done, and does say something very important about what happened and society in general. I read on snopes.com that the state of California rarely, if ever, paroles murderers (and she's changed her "story" more than a few times) so she'll probably be in prison for life, which I believe she deserves. Thank you to the Boomtown Rats for having the courage to write & sing this song.
- Nikki, Seattle`, WA
Brenda Spencer was up for parole in 2005. It was denied. She is serving a 25-to-life sentence.
- Lalah, Wasilla, AK
I remember this song got lots of airtime in Boston on stations like WBCN and WCOZ. I liked it instantly until my boyfriend pointed out it was about the girl who skipped school got high then shot up a school yard. I was so angry that they were celebrating her but now that I read the words it is more of a condemnation.
- Lalah, Wasilla, AK
I heard an interview with Bob Geldolf who said that because of the songs subject matter, Brenda Spencer's family threatened to sue the record company. As a result the label pulled it from promotion.
- Mike, Boston, MA
Not mentioned in the original content is the fact that this song was a hit in Canada.

-Sharon, Ottawa, Canada
- Sharon, Ottawa, Canada
The school is a block away from my grandmothers house. She was living there when it happened.
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
The Boomtown Rats' first 3 albums were produced by Robert John 'Mutt' Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Bryan Adams and Shania Twain) except for 'Mondays'. It was produced by Phil Wainman (The Sweet and Bay City Rollers) as the Rats wanted to try out a different producer on this single. The following album sessions with Wainman didn't work out, so the band returned to 'Mutt' Lange for 'The Fine Art of Surfacing'.
- Christian, Copenhagen, Denmark
Yeah, the song was banned by a lot of stations in the US, probably because people didn't want other kids to hear it and start another school shooting. I'd never even heard it until Live 8. Now I have the Live Aid DVD, and I'm just wondering, at the end of the Boomtown Rats' set, the crowd starts singing/chanting something. Anyone know what it is? They did it during other sets too, this is just the time when you can hear it the best. Is it like some British thing, sort of how over here we chant "USA, USA..." sometimes?
- katie, nowhereville, NJ
Steph, That's a great version of the song. It's on the One Wild Night CD. I love Bon Jovi!
- Patti, Sewell, NJ
Allan from Greenock - a telex machine is the same as (used to be called) the 'videprinter' - that brought up all the football scores on Grandstand.

Remember?!

:-)
- Gary, Saffron Walden, England
Just a comment / observation.

I was at Glastonbury in 1985 (in the mud!) when the Boomtown Rats played. (Saturday afternoon, I think!) - the second time I'd seen them, the first being at the White Rock, Hastings, about 1982. Glastonbury was one month before Live Aid and they performed 'Mondays' JUST like they did at Wembley - the big pause. That pause blew my socks off then, without the power of the message that came across at Live Aid. I've often said that Bob was rehearsing it when he did it at Glastonbury; we'll never know, but it was a blinding song when I was 14 at school - and still makes my hairs stand on end now!
- Gary, Saffron Walden, England
Anybody know what a telex machine is?
- Allan, Greenock, Scotland
Tori Amos's cover version was featured in an episode of "The West Wing" to underscore a scene where White House staffers get the news that a student had gone on a killing rampage through a public school, killing a number of students.
"The West Wing" uses Popular music to great effect in some of its best episodes.
- Robert, Puyallup, WA
i was there-i finished my early classes at Grossmont JC and headed home for lunch. driving down Lake Murray BLVD i noticed all kinds of cars/media--when i got home and turned on the TV, I found out what was happening. my best friend s brother went to school with her--Patrick Henry High. the weird thing is that her father married his daughters, cellmate when she was released. he was SDSU professor
- frank, fircrest, WA
This song means a lot to me for different reason then those that are apparent.

My first (now ex) wife's madian name is Montag... in German it means Mondays... That's how I got hooked on the song and then I found how great the song really is. And that's probably why I can listen to the song 1000 times and enjoy my hate of my first wife!

There' I'm much better now... my Dr. says it's good therapy to get it out of the system! I like my Dr! He gives me real good drugs!... Mind altering drugs as a matter of fact...
- Wally, Port Huron, MS
The Song "I don't Like Mondays" was played in the US and on most rock stations, but the sound did not really fit in with "AOR" (Album oriented rock) at the time. I think it was one of the most beautiful songs ever to air and find the subject matter well, interesting. The sad fact is the song was never banned here in America, it just simply did not catch on and did not do too well in The US charts. Radio stations in the US generally walk away from songs or artist that aren't hitting the top twenty and as a result few people remember this song. I was 12 when it came out and I loved it then and still do now. There was a live version that aired even prior to live aid.
Ben
- Ben, Chicago, IL
A friend of mine was trying to work out the complex initial crashing piano chord of this song ... and one day he put down the piano lid without folding out the vertical bit, and it hit all the black notes on the piano at once ... yup, that was it!
- Martin, Sydney, Australia
This song is exelent i remember hearing it when i was like 5 or 6 (my mum is a Bob geldof/BoomTown Rats fan) not knowing what is about then whan i was like 13 i put the CD on and my mum told me about it.
- Karl Topping, Preston, England
I love this song. Has anyone else heard the version played at Bon Jovi's London 2000 concert with Bob Geldof guest starring?
- Steph, Manchester, England
Believe me, it WAS played in the UK, where it was No. 1 for four weeks. This meant that the band were on Top Of The Pops every week while it was No. 1. I'm not sure that many Brits who bought it realised at the time exactly who or what it was about. When The Rats performed this at Live Aid, the dramatic pause after "and the lesson today is how to die" was extended to spine-tingling effect. I always associate the song with THAT 'lesson' - the starving in Africa.

I believe the song was banned by most radio stations in the US - but why? OK , it's 'close to home' but it was tastefully written. It actually was quite "artsy" for a (would-be)punk band.
- Martin, London, England
Wow. ok i love this song. Apparently is wasnt played in the UK or in the US because of its idea.
- Kirsten, Brampton, Canada
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