by Sean Smith
Yesterday marked the somber 4th anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy hook Elementary School. On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old murderer walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and shot and killed six adult school employees and 20 children between the tender ages of 6 and 7.
The brutal and senseless slaughter of innocent children that December morning initially shocked the consciousness of Americans across the country. There was a collective feeling of heartbrokenness at the thought of the shear evilness those pure-hearted children were forced to confront in what was suppose to be a safe and secure environment.
My daughter was in kindergarten at the time, and was the same age as many of the children who were senselessly murdered. Like every other parent, when I heard the news I wanted to do nothing but run to my child’s school and hold her close to me. But I knew that my daughter was safe in her school and so instead turned on the news and openly wept as the gruesome details of the incident began to come to light. The massacre at Sandy Hook was (and remains today) the deadliest grade school shooting in American history. Despite the initial shared outrage by all Americans, in the days that followed the tragedy folks on both sides of the political spectrum began to firmly entrench themselves for a political fight over gun control. In the end very little legislation was passed on the state level, and nothing was done on the national level in order to try and prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future.
The Sandy Hook shooting was sadly not the last mass school shooting in the United States, and it certainly was not the first. This week we remember a song that was inspired by a tragic school shooting that occurred over thirty years ago in Southern California.
On January, 29, 1979 the Irish band The Boomtown Rats were in the United States doing press. As they were in the middle of an interview in an Atlanta radio station, the lead singer Bob Geldof saw a story come across the news wire of a school shooting. That morning a 16-year-old girl from San Diego went to an elementary school near her house and fatally shot two adults, including the school’s principal, and injured nine students. After opening fire she retreated to her home. The police surrounded the home and for seven hours there was a standoff. While locked in the house the girl spoke to a reporter on the phone and responded with the following when asked why she did it. “I just started shooting. That’s it. I just did it for the fun of it. I just don’t like Mondays. I just did it because it’s a way to cheer the day up. Nobody likes Mondays.”
Bob Geldof wrote the song “I Don’t Like Mondays” about not only this incident, but about senseless violence as a whole. The track was released in July 1979, and was a #1 hit in 32 countries. However, the song did not chart very well in the United States reaching only the 73 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The reason for this was because one day after it was released as a single in the United States it was immediately pulled back by Columbia Records after the father of the killer threatened a lawsuit. This of course had a direct impact on the single receiving little radio airplay, and therefore not charting very well.
The song “I Don’t Like Mondays” was not the last time The Boomtown Rats Bob Geldof would use music to highlight ills in the world. In 1984 he co-founded the supergroup Band Aid with Midge Ure to raise money for famine-relief in Africa. In 1985, he organized the Band Aid concert, and in 2005 he organized the Live 8 series of shows. He was recognized for his humanitarianism by Queen Elizabeth II with an honorary knighthood in 1986.
So in light of the somber remembrance of the Sandy Hook shooting anniversary yesterday, this week we take a moment to remember the 1979 Boomtown Rats single “I Don’t Like Mondays.” A song written about an earlier mass school shooting.
“I Don’t Like Mondays”