Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde didn't write this song, but knows the story behind it. When we spoke with her in 2013, she explained: "Wendy was a real person. She was diagnosed with AIDS and rather than suffering the stigma, she decided to commit suicide. It's an old song, so this is a long time ago, and not that anything's changed much, by the way. But it's basically her dialogue with herself as to the decision she's going to make on her own. She's making the decision on her own, it's her one act of dignity in her life. And it's heavy, to say the least.
When that first came out, there was a lot of good old fashioned southern 'we should burn this record' kind of s--t. Between the vampires and Wendy, I think those people just about choked on their whatever." (Here's our full Johnette Napolitano interview.)
This song was written by Andy Prieboy, who in the mid-'80s was lead singer of the Los Angeles group Wall Of Voodoo. On his 1990 album Upon My Wicked Son, Prieboy released a duet version with Concrete Blonde lead singer Johnette Napolitano. Concrete Blonde put it on their third album, Bloodletting, which contained their most popular song, "Joey." This version was sung mainly by Johnette, with Andy doing backing vocals, and was the last song on the album.
Derek Belbin from Witless Bay,nl,canadaWhen I first heard this song on our local university radio station,I rushed out and bought the "Bloodletting" tape (the CD wasn't available).I played and replayed the song so much that the tape stretched to the point that the song was practically unlistenable then I did the same with Andy Prieboy's "Upon My Wicked Son" tape. "Tomorrow Wendy" has to be the most hard-hitting song that has been written about dealing with the tragedy of AIDS and Johnette Naploitano sang it with such incredible feeling and angst,that you'd would have to been born with a heart of stone not to feel the emotion in her voice.
Brian from Charlottesville, VaI absolutely love this song. It's my favorite Concrete Blonde song, and one of my favorites from the early 90's. I didn't know the specific AIDS reference, but it doesn't surprise me. To me, this has always been a song about terminal illness, which I guess in the late 80's/early 90's AIDS was. I didn't get the suicide implication, but it does make sense to me now. To me, the song was about someone you love facing a terminal situation, and the inevitability of their death. Nothing you can do can change what is coming, and that frustration and anger and sorrow all come through in the way Concrete Blonde perform this song. A sad, but meaningful and powerful song.
C Plus from Austin, TxI love this song-- have two covers besides Prieboy's. A girl, choosing when and how to die, knowing that death is imminent. "I told the priest, "Don't count on any Second Coming." Facing death, the last hope is that one, the pain won't end but only get worse-- "The only reason not to die now is if He comes again-- before I can't take it anymore-- But, 'Don't count on it.'" I have buried so many of my best friends, some to AIDS, some to other diseases, some to suicide. Losing two now. And I love this song, and its quiet rage. "And if He ever suffered... it was me who did his crying." Yeah. Damn it. Thanks to Andy for saying it for us.
Sarah from Yuba City, CaYeahh i didn't think it had anything to do with AIDS either. To me, it seemed like the transition from childhood to adulthood, trying to ignore the fact that growing up is necessary all the while. (I, like a few others, imagined that Wendy from Peter Pan is the same Wendy in this song. That always made perfect sense to me.) From rebelling against religion, to pretending that nothing ever harms our idols or the people that we admire. (The Kennedy reference) I thought it was about letting go of a childish past and coming to grips with reality and tragedy... hmm, but i guess the AIDS thing could make sense. Anyway....beautiful song. Concrete Blonde is amazing. :)
Bonnie from Providence, RiSo some of the comments here are correct generally, but not entirely. Johnette Napolitano has explained in live performances that Wendy committed suicide instead of slowly dying, suffering with AIDS.
After I learned that, ALL the lyrics make more sense. It's about her deciding when to go, coming to the end of her own line and struggling to make peace with her life and it ending that way. The song (to me) is both about her:
"Only God says jump but I set the time cause if he ever saw it was through these eyes of mine and if he ever suffered it was me who did the crying"
But the song is ALSO about her friend (the writer Andy Prieboy) trying to grieve, but still being frustrated with AIDS and how f--ked up our society is about it and the stigma of having it.
I feel like it's a tribute to her choice, her strength, but sadness that anyone would rather die by choice at their decided time than slip away in such an awful way!
At the time he wrote it there was a full on crisis looming... in major cities it was a f--king plague and political leaders and church leaders turned their backs.
So I think his anger directed at the priest was of the "you can't ignore this and people don't deserve to die this way" variety.
I mean... how to grieve when you can't turn to a priest or believe in God, because look at what is happening and people weren't doing enough to stop it. (and they still aren't)
Ernest from Harrisonburg, VaAndy Prieboy, from what I gather (on the YouTube version of his Video), wrote this song about a woman, a prostitute, who had contracted AIDS. It is one of the most powerful, emotion-charged songs I've ever listened to. On Concrete Blonde's "Still in Hollywood" CD you find a live performance, where Johnette says Andy wrote it about a woman with AIDS. The death of a person is a strong thing. People take a friend or loved ones passing in different ways. The reference to Kennedy reflects a more "Innocent" time in America - "Camelot" an almost "mystical" time. Kennedy's assassination snuffed out the Innocence of that time in a heartbeat. - That is kinda the comparison Prieboy was making. Amanda, I'm sorry to hear that about your sister. I hope the person who raped her burns in Hell.
Amanda from Riverton, WyI've heard this song thousands of times growing up, loved it.I knew then she spoke of a friend dying. How angry she was with god that he would let it happen.The things people want to believe or ignore to make themselves feel better or cope."Make believe Kennedy is still alive etc..." How a young woman's life can be summed up and gone like it happens to everyone, faster than you could imagine"two ends of time neatly tied."My sister was raped at the age of 13.She was no longer the girl I knew,my friend,kind,patient, full of life,love,and vitality.Over night she died inside and turned into a monster.Many pretended it never happened to feel better about it.I was angry with god too,I wanted to know what, and why he took the sister I knew away.All the things I could not say fit into this song in a way.It voiced for as a very little girl,the things I could not.I knew "Wendy" died of some illness but not what.It does not matter,a life gone too soon,someone loved her and said so.Sang out loud what some fear to say"I'm angry,hurt,sad,it's not fair; it will never get better just easier." Isn't that what everyone feels when they grieve?
Joshua from Greenwood, MsI love the music, and I love Johnette's mean ass sexy voice...but the lyrics...I don't know, I am just not getting the AIDS visual. More along the lines of a satanic sacrificial ritual. I think that the AIDS thing is just a good political move, but really a stretch when you listen to the lyrics. Anyway - just my opinion.
Mel!ssa from Pittsburgh, PaMy favorite easter story...
I told the priest, Don't count on any second coming God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us
Srass from Durham, NcFor some reason, I've always been of the impression that the song was about a woman who had been in a coma for a long time ("we can make believe that Kennedy is still alive") and is about to be disconnected from life support, hence the reference to a specific time of death. One the one hand, it was explained briefly by CB at a Sting concert in Champaign, IL where they opened, but on the other hand, it was so long ago that I don't trust my memory anymore.
Marto from Sydney, AustraliaTis song sucks cause is scary. When i saw andy preiboys version on rage 3 years ago i ended up with a song stuck in my head & it gave me nightmare & i had to listen to allot of metal to get it out
people who write songs about diseases are lame
Chuck from Cheyenne, WyI'm glad I came across this site. I've enjoyed this song for quite some time, yet I had a different (?) interpretation of it. To me, this song was always about the loss of innocence--that peculiar/bittersweet age when you realize your insignificance to the world and mortality that occurs somewhere between childhood and adulthood (adolescence). For example, Wendy was the young girl in "Peter Pan" that was caught between childhood and adulthood ("two ends of time are neatly tied"). Also, the Kennedy assassination ("We can make believe that kennedy is still alive and, We're shooting for the moon and smiling Jackie's driving by...") is often referred to as the seminal moment that many Americans became insecure with their place in the world and (generally) more cynical. Even the section, "I told the priest, don't count on any second coming, God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming! He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us! No, I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us?", seems to speak of transformation and is clearly devoid of childlike naivete. BUT, I've just read that it's about a young woman dealing with AIDS... Hmmm, just goes to prove that art is truly subjective...;o))).
Jameson from Lexington, Ky(grin) I've never heard the bass line of the "Pachelbel Canon" used to such good effect. Seriously, I love the song, more for the music than the lyrics.