“That’s why Monday burns like kerosene when it sees me show up with my mugshot face.” With this verse, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda synthesizes the weariness we feel each Monday. For Neruda, this day "shrieks on its way like a wounded wheel, trailing hot bloody footprints into the night." The so-called "Blue Monday" is the third Monday of January, and according to a study conducted in 2005 by Dr. Cliff Arnall, this is the day that most people feel depressed. This concept was already familiar, and even an English electronic band, New Order, has a song titled "Blue Monday". The song was released in 1983 and includes sad verses like "How does it feel to treat me like you do, [...] Tell me how does it feel when your heart grows cold."
It was actually on a Monday when one of the many school shootings in the history of the United States took place. It was on January 29, 1979. Brenda Ann Spencer, a 16 year old girl, was bored at her house in San Diego, California. One of her windows overlooked the Cleveland Elementary School, a place she herself had attended some years before. Some kids were playing outside the building waiting for principal Burton Wragg to open the doors. However, Brenda didn't really see kids out there, but moving targets on the ground. They were easy targets for someone with a good aim. The previous Christmas, Brenda had asked her father for a recording machine. Instead she'd gotten a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle with a telescopic sight and 500 bullets. She was suffering from depression, and a few months earlier had been arrested for shooting some birds in her neighborhood. After the event, authorities recommended her parents to send her to a psychiatric facility to treat her depression. But her father, a violent alcoholic man, refused the recommendation.
That morning Brenda took the rifle and opened fire without any remorse, shooting eight children. One police officer responding the 911 call was shot in the neck, but managed to survive. Principal Wragg and the school janitor, Mike Suchar, died right away. The attack didn't end until six hours later, when she ran out of bullets.
The news was quickly spread. When the police managed to arrest the teen killer, a journalist from the San Diego Tribune questioned her about the reasons of the attack. She shrugged her shoulders and answered, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day” with a horrifying coldness. She then added: "It was a lot of fun seeing children shot." To this day, Brenda Anne Spencer, now 55, is serving a life sentence in a California prison.
One month after the event, Bob Geldof wrote a song called "I Don't Like Mondays," inspired by the Cleveland Elementary School massacre and the cruel declarations of Brenda. Bob Geldof was the lead singer of the Irish band The Boomtown Rats, together with Garry Roberts (guitarist), Johnnie Fingers (keyboardist), Pete Briquette (bass player), Gerry Cott (guitarist), and Simon Crowe (drummer). They created a special sound with clear influences from New Wave and Punk.
"I Don't Like Mondays" was the second single of the band and it's included in their album The Fine Art of Surfacing. The song was so controversial that many British radio stations refused to play it due to its morbid theme. The uproar boosted the record's sailings and positioned The Boomtown Rats among the most popular bands of the time. The music video showed a girl in a school uniform while the musicians play the song. Years later, musicians like Bon Jovi and Tori Amos have covered this classic song.
There are many other songs that talk about tragedies or other dark themes we don't really get until we analyze the lyrics.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards