Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF May 24, 1999

DEAR JERRY: In light of the recent school shootings in Colorado, a song from the early '80s keeps coming to my mind.

I know neither the actual title nor the artist, but I was told the song was inspired by a true story about a school shooting, this time by a very young girl.

The most memorable line in this song is “I Don't Like Mondays.” I don't know if that's the title but it is repeated the most.

Please tell me about this recording, especially whether or not the story is true.
--J.R. Puryear, Huntingdon, Pa.

DEAR J.R.: “I Don't Like Mondays” is the title of the 1980 release, by the Boomtown Rats, that is indeed based on real events.

In a San Carlos, California schoolyard, on Monday January 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Spencer appeared with a rifle she just received for Christmas, and began shooting.

By the time the unprovoked shooting rampage ended, the school's principal and janitor were dead. During the melee, Spencer also shot a police officer through the neck and wounded eight elementary school children.

When later asked why she did such this ghastly deed, Spencer is quoted as saying: “I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day.”

Boomtown Rats lead vocalist, Bob Geldof, eternalized her strange explanation in music with “I Don't Like Mondays” (Columbia 11117)

Brenda Spencer's days are not so lively now. She is at the California Institute for Women in Frontera, serving the 20th year of a 25-years-to-life sentence.

DEAR JERRY: I taught my three-year-old granddaughter to sing “A Bushel and a Peck,” and am quite anxious to buy her that song, if possible. Unfortunately, I don't know the artists who recorded this tune. Can you help?
--Mary Stelling, Lecanto, Fla.

DEAR MARY: The best-selling version of “A Bushel and a Peck,” and, I think, the best one, is by Perry Como and Betty Hutton (RCA Victor 3930).

One excellent CD with this standard, originally from Broadway's “Guys and Dolls,” is “The Great Victor Duets (RCA BMG-9967-2-R).

The 20 duets in this collection run the gamut from Perry & Betty to Ray Charles & Cleo Laine; Elvis & Ann-Margret to Chet Atkins & the Boston Pops Orchestra; and Nelson Eddy & Jeanette MacDonald to Hall & Oates. There's even a remarkable jazz duet, “Out of Nowhere,” by Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan.

DEAR JERRY: In a TV commercial, currently running for Panasonic big screen televisions, a few words play from a song that I believe is titled “It's Getting Better” (“You got to admit it's getting better,” etc.)

I know I have heard this tune before, in the '60s or early '70s, but am unable to recall the artist.

In one book I checked, the only “It's Getting Better” listed as a hit is by Mama Cass (Elliot). However, I am ruling that version out because the one I recall is by a male singer.

Perhaps you can refresh my memory on this matter.
--Marlena Millen, Harrisonburg, Va.

DEAR MARLENA: The title is just “Getting Better,” and it's a Lennon-McCartney composition that appears on the Beatles' “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

The Mama Cass tune is an entirely different one.

IZ ZAT SO? A previously unissued, recently-unearthed recording by the Beatles will be released within the next couple of months.

This unidentified rockin' track, which features John Lennon on lead vocal, is one recorded in 1968 at the Abbey Road Studios during the “Yellow Submarine” sessions.

Though no title has been revealed, we are told that, unlike “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” issued four years ago, it will be released as originally recorded - not remixed.

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