NYC was a dangerous, dirty, and crazy place in the mid-70s (when I lived there, in Loisaida, in Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side). In the mid-1970's, the Council for Public Safety (police, firefighters and other unions) published a pamphlet called "Welcome to Fear City: A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York." Both the Blackout and the arrest of Son of Sam happened during my first two months there (The Summer of Sam as Spike Lee called it). This pamphlet caused a lot of turmoil in the city, and was later renamed "If You Haven't Been Mugged Yet..." [Ed's note: I was mugged three times over the course of five years.]
I recently picked up a couple of Devo albums (a twofer: Duty Now For The Future/New Traditionalists) and have been enjoying renewing my acquaintance. You'd think Devo would be the most dated of all the bands from the 70s/early 80s. They sound amazingly good; they've aged well. One of my favorite tunes from their early albums is Come Back Jonee. . .a version--it's not quite a cover (I wonder if they had to pay Chuck Berry royalties?)--but a transformation of Johnny Be Good (similar in spirit to maybe Anne Sexton's Tranformations). They pack a lot of drama into one small song.
Gerald Casale, who co-wrote much of Devo's material, along with Mark Mothersbaugh, said that Come Back Jonee uses 50s rock and roll metaphors to mourn the passing of John F.Kennedy.
On a side note, 23 seconds into the video, you'll see and hear the loudest mike bump I've ever heard. It such a weird sound, it could almost be Foley'd in...it's a clank sound--I'm used to mike bumps sounding pretty percussive with a lot of bottom end...
Come Back Jonee
jonee went to the pawnshop bought himself a guitar now he's gonna go far you gotta love 'em and leave 'em sometimes you deceive 'em you made her cry jonee you're bad you're gonna make her sad jonee jumped in his datsun drove out on the expressway went head-on into a semi his guitar is all that's left now he made her cry now she calls his name jonee you're to blame ---o0o---