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Jan 21, 2015
Dave's Song of the Day

I Know What Boys Like – The Waitresses

Thursday song of the day: On occasion, someone will get a musical idea and it will take on a life of its own, expanding well beyond what was originally intended. In 1978, Chris Butler had an idea for a song that didn’t quite fit in with the musical direction of his current band, Tin Huey, so he decided to use it as the basis for a side project. The song grew into that fondly remembered band of the early 1980s, The Waitresses.

Butler wrote I Know What Boys Like in 1978, along with some other songs that didn’t quite fit in for Tin Huey. The idea for the song came from the universal Nya-nya Nya-nya Nya Nya taunt used by children everywhere. Once he had written the song, he decided to record it, but it really needed a female vocalist. He found the perfect singer in Patty Donahue, supposedly by chance in a bar. As he tells the story, “One day I write this song, and then its noon and the liquid lunchers are packed into a … bar. I stand on a chair and bang a beer bottle for attention and declare: ‘I need a chanteuse to coo a tune. The song is funny and stupid and cool and different, and is anybody interested?’ A voice in the back says ‘uh-huh.’ It’s Patty.”

I have no idea if that story is true, or if it’s something he made up. What is true is that initially, The Waitresses did not exist as a band at the time. They recorded I Know What Boys Like as a single, which was released in 1980 on Antilles Records. Butler played most of the instruments – saxophone was provided by Butler’s Tin Huey band mate Ralph Carney – and Donahue sang, credited as “Patty Darling”. The record didn’t sell much, but it did help get an album deal for The Waitresses. Butler recruited other musicians to flesh out the band into something more real, and they re-recorded the song for their first album, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? in 1981.

This time, I Know What Boys Like became a minor hit, peaking at #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and getting a fair amount of airplay for the accompanying video in the early days of MTV. The Waitresses had a short career, recording another album before breaking up in 1984.

While Chris Butler was the driving force behind the band, writing the songs and providing the musical direction, what always made The Waitresses stand out for me was the deadpan singing of Patty Donahue. Her voice was very much a part of the entire early 1980s post-punk/new wave feel of the time in my mind. Unfortunately, Donahue died of lung cancer in 1996, at the age of just forty years old.

I Know What Boys Like has been covered several times in the almost forty years since its release. One version, by Shampoo, was a minor hit in the United Kingdom in 1996. This cover made it as high as #42 on the UK singles chart. I like Shampoo, and have previously included their song Trouble as a song of the day here: Still, I don’t care for their take on I Know What Boys Like. The musical arrangement is typical bad mid-90s overblown club music and overshadows the singing. Shampoo’s singing is too in-your-face and lacks the subtlety needed to make the song work. Even worse, using the payoff “Sucker!” line early in the song totally misses the point. The Waitresses’ version strings the listener along, giving the impression that the singer might welcome their affections until the end, where the “Sucker!” lyric reveals she was teasing them all along.

1980 original single version

1981 re-recording

Music Video

Shampoo 1996 cover

Tomorrow: Can’t you see the fears that I’m feeling today?

Inside Job

Sapere Aude
First 100
Jan 17, 2015
Knopfler is fucking amazing. His guitar work is achingly beautiful and his talent isn’t recognized enough.

My favourite dire straits song.

Knopfler fact:

He did the OST for The Princess Bride.
that is great
both the song and the fact
I will look into it
he is the man


Stay gold
Nov 21, 2016
that is great
both the song and the fact
I will look into it
he is the man
3:20 is where the magic starts to happen. The song ends with a fade out during a solo that I didn’t want to end. The notes he plays fall away from audibility and leave me wanting more.

But how can I be mad at a Sultan?



Jan 21, 2015
Dave's Song of the Day

Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire

Friday song of the day: Today’s song of the day was recorded by several different artists, but we will highlight the best-known version rather than the first recorded.

Phillip Sloan, better known as P.F. Sloan, had been involved in the music business either as a performer or songwriter since he was 14 years old. He is best known as a songwriter, having written songs for artists such as Jan & Dean, The Turtles, Herman’s Hermits, and The Grass Roots before abruptly going into semi-retirement in 1969 due to legal disputes with Dunhill Records and health problems. His biggest hit came fairly early in his career.

In 1964, P.F. Sloan was still only 19 years old, but was already established as a successful songwriter. Seeing the many political issues affecting the country, in mid-1964 he wrote a folk-rock protest song entitled Eve of Destruction to address such things as the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassination, the civil rights movement, the Middle East, and various other issues.

The song was originally offered to The Byrds, who declined to record it. Instead, The Turtles recorded Eve of Destruction for their 1965 debut album. While this was the first version recorded, it remained an album cut and was not issued as a single until a version recorded a bit later had already been a huge hit.

The artist who made Eve of Destruction a big hit was Barry McGuire. He recorded his version in July 1965, after the Turtles had recorded their version but before that record had been released. Music was provided by session musicians, including Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on bass, and P.F. Sloan himself on guitar. McGuire’s vocal track was an initial take meant only to be used in a rough mix, with a more polished vocal performance to be recorded later for the final product. This never happened, though.

McGuire had recorded the “temporary” vocal during a late-night studio session. He was tired and his voice was raspier than usual. The producer, Jay Lasker, liked the dimension that McGuire’s tired voice added to the song, so the morning after he had completed the rough mix, he took a copy to a disk jockey at a local Los Angeles radio station. The station played the tape on air and it received a good response. After it received heavy airplay in Los Angeles, Dunhill Records scrapped plans to record a smoother vocal track and just pressed the rough cut for nationwide release. It was a big hit, quickly rising up the charts, and reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by September 1965.

The popular surf rock act Jan & Dean released an Eve of Destruction cover version later in 1965 on their album Folk ‘n Roll. This version used the same musical track recorded for McGuire’s version, with Jan & Dean merely providing a different vocal track to the existing music. They did change the “Selma, Alabama” in the original lyrics to “Watts, California” for their version, however.

Dozens of other artists have recorded the song over the years, from several little-known acts, to novelty singer Tiny Tim, to punk guitarist Johnny Thunders, to rap pioneers Public Enemy. The Temptations name-checked the song in their own hit Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today) in 1970, and sportscaster Chris Berman often referred to the Oakland A’s/St. Louis Cardinals baseball player as Mark “Eve of Destruction” McGwire. Tying Mark McGwire to Barry McGuire was one of my favorites of Berman’s invented nicknames for sports figures, trailing only the magnificent Bert “Be Home” Blyleven.

Barry McGuire 1965

P.F. Sloan demo

The Turtles, 1965

Jan and Dean, 1965 (Note the identical music as used in the Barry McGuire recording)

Tomorrow: Mix me a Molotov