Johnny Hit and Run Pauline
by X

Album: Los Angeles (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • A track from the punk band X's debut album, this song got the most attention, as it was about a lurid combination of sex and drugs. Explaining how the song was often misinterpreted by the slam dancing throngs at their early shows around Los Angeles, X guitarist John Doe told BAM in 1980: "'Johnny Hit and Run Paulene' is about a guy who takes an imaginary drug that allows him to have sex once an hour for 24 hours. It's about rape, forcible intercourse and s--t like that. I see people getting into it like, 'Yeah, hit and run...' I'm saying this happens a lot, watch out for it, be aware, don't give in to it. Don't think I'm condoning rape!"
  • In the book MTV Ruled the World - The Early Years of Music Video, John Doe reminisces on the early '80s punk scene: "There's a lot of revisionist history about punk rock. People wanted to have impact and wanted to make a living and be an artist. If I were to sum it up, I'd say the music industry was pretty naive at that point. There were so many fewer bands, so many fewer media outlets. It's like the reverse of now."

    In the same book, he also admits sheepishly to a bit of irony regarding MTV: "We were part of a pretty independent bunch of bands and felt that MTV was just part of the corporate mess. I don't think any of the members of X had a whole lot of respect for it. For better or for worse, saying, "This is a bunch of bulls--t. This is part of 'the man.' Meanwhile, two years later, we signed with Elektra, which is part of 'the man.'"

    X was produced by Ray Manzarek of The Doors, who were on Elektra. He tried to get X a deal with the label, but Elektra didn't take them until their third album. Los Angeles and the follow-up album, Wild Gift, were released on the indie label Slash.
  • In a Songfacts interview with X vocalist Exene Cervenka, she said of this song: "It's a fantasy - like a film noir fantasy - about a guy who could take a drug and can have sex every hour, and he's a bad guy, it turns out. That was long before Viagra. A lot of our songs came true much later in life, and they were just written as fantasy."
  • Opening with a Chuck Berry riff, musically the song is a throwback to early rock and roll, just with lyrics that are far more lurid. The line, "96 tears through 24 hours" is a sly reference to the '60s hit "96 Tears."

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