The inspiration for the song came during the band’s American tour in January 1979 – legend in Boomtown has it that Geldof and Fingers were doing the rounds from radio station to radio station promoting the band, when a telex machine sprung into life and typed out the first reports of a school shooting in San Diego. When the school-girl was asked why she’d done it, she simply answered “I Don’t Like Mondays” and that was all Bob needed to pen one of rock’s classic tracks.
Although Bob had the lyrics nailed from the start, initially the song’s arrangement had the tight guitar-led character of much of the band’s output at that stage (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0p3oWqJhwcg). Having become so used to the piano and strings-led version that became such a massive hit, I really like this earlier take. It’s a bit less heavily produced and it’s rawness gives it a real edge.
Not only was ‘Mondays’ a huge hit with the record-buying public, it’s magnificence was acknowledged by the band’s peers in the UK music industry, when it won the Best Pop Song and Outstanding British Lyric categories at the Ivor Novello Awards.
It was also a truly global hit, released throughout Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa, Japan and the Philippines. The song has also been covered extensively by artists as diverse as Tori Amos, The cast of Grange Hill, Groovie Ghoulies (love that name!) and the London Symphony Orchestra. All of these and more (even sadly, the version by the Grange Hill cast) can be found on YouTube. There’s even a version in Swedish by a band called the Streaplers.
But what we really want to know is what’s your favourite cover? Right this minute, my favourite is the Swedish version – you really should check that one out. Bob, how’s your Swedish????