THE ORIGINAL: Tommy James and the Shondells (1968)
This is one of those kooky songs from the 60s whose lyrics make no sense, but the hook is so big it could snare a Blue Whale. This is a midtempo garage rock favorite of jukeboxes, Baby Boomer dance parties, skating rinks, wedding receptions and Karaoke bars.
Why? Because it’s one of those songs that you don’t understand at all, since you’re so focused on yelling “Mony Mony!” and “Yeah Yeah!” through the whole 2:53 seconds, even over the verses.
After reading the lyrics for the first time, they seem to be about a hot chick who gives this dude such good love that it wakes him up in the middle of the night, and makes him feel alright. Sounds like masturbation.
I can’t speak for the “Shotgun, get it done” part. Loud guitars, loud Tommy, loud backing vocals, loud and bashing drums, loud driving bass, the bridge gets a smidge quieter, but not by much. The groove is perfect for doing the Jerk, jumping around and yelling like a jerk in a bar, or bebopping down the street. I get it.
THE COVER: Billy Idol (1981)
Billy’s version is more of a Gary Glitter thing, minus that whole pedo thing.
It’s Rock with an 80s sheen. The arrangement is the same, but the background vocals are sung by women, and there are Glitter-esque hand claps, like in “Rock and Roll.”
This version is 5:01, despite the tempo being faster than the original. This has been remixed within an inch of its life several times, and none of them have been pretty. It was interesting to see Billy go from Generation X to this, but it made me sad. Just look at him in this video!
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
I gotta give it to Tommy and the Shondells. It’s slower, grittier, more fun, and I love how it got its nonsense title. Google the song and find out how it happened. When I did, it made me love living here in New York City a little more than I did when I woke up.
NOW YOU DECIDE!