Graham Reid | | 2 min read
Many of us don't like Mondays, but we don't all . . .
In 1979, Bob Geldof of Ireland's Boomtown Rats read about the 16-year old American girl Brenda Ann Spencer in San Diego who fired at a children's playground killing two adults and injuring eight children.
She used the rifle her father had given her.
When asked why she did it she said, "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day".
According to a report written by the police negotiators who spoke with her during the six-hour standoff, she made comments to them such as: “There was no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun”; “It was just like shooting ducks in a pond”; and "[the children] looked like a herd of cows standing around, it was really easy pickings.”
Spencer pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
What Geldof of the Boomtown Rats did was in the long tradition of reportage in song, very common in folk music (Dylan deployed the technique in his early days) but rather more rare in rock.
Geldof: "I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with [Rats' keyboard player] Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out.
"Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said 'Silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload'. I wrote that down.
"And the journalists interviewing her said, 'Tell me why?' It was such a senseless act.
"It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn't an attempt to exploit tragedy."
At her first parole hearing, Spencer expressed doubt that any of the victims was hit by bullets from her rifle and contended they might have been shot by police.
She also claimed to have been under the influence of alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs at the time of the shootings and asserted prosecutors and her attorney had conspired to fabricate test evidence showing there had been no drugs in her system.
By her third parole hearing she was admitting guilt and expressing remorse but was still contending she had been drunk and high on marijuana laced with PCP the day of her deadly rampage.
She also claimed something new, that she had been beaten and sexually abused by her father, an avowal conspicuously absent from previous records.
She is up for another parole hearing in late 2022.
I guess in the slammer there is no such thing as "Monday"?
For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults.