My Sharona by The Knack (Capitol, 1979)

There was a time where singers & musicians had to pay their dues, struggle and work hard for success. Those days are mostly gone, wherein all you have to do is win a contest or post a Youtube video to start your career. But in 1979, The Knack made a mockery of that concept, inciting a 13-way bidding war between record labels after only a few months on the L.A. circuit. Then, one year after their first live show, they had a #1 hit with their debut 45, My Sharona, which stayed at the top for a month & a half and gave all of the ‘Disco Sucks’ army a sigh of relief. By the end of the year, San Francisco artist created a Knuke The Knack kit, complete with a “Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Listen to the Radio” Jaws-style T-shirt, Knuke The Knack button and “Honk If You’ve Slept with Sharona” bumper sticker. Wow! May I also remind you that people were heavily into coke back then?

This also may have been an underhanded attempt to get back at the disco haters by Brown, but who knows? What I do know is that the record was crisp and fresh when it was released, buoyed by a big drum sound, chopped guitar riff and the dirty mind of Doug Fieger. And since Capitol signed them, they decided to play up as many comparisons to the Beatles as they could. Which I guess worked in a world where people were still hopeful of a Beatles reunion or anything to pull Lennon out of his recording hiatus.

And of course how many women did you know in 1979 named Sharona (compared to those born with that name in 1980)? Everything seemed new about the Knack and although their hearkened back to late 60s Who/Kinks rock sound, they were putting some much-needed gas into the New Wave powerpop revival. No one even seemed to notice that the riff was just Gimme Some Lovin inverted. Or that Ma-ma-ma-ma-my-ee may have been ‘borrowed’ from Roger Daltrey singing My Generation. From singing about one’s generation to singing about one’s girlfriend – the 70s were truly the Me decade.

Then there’s the women who inspired the song in the first place, Sharona Alperin, soon to be Fieger’s girlfriend and band fan booster. She not only has no regrets, she seems to have based her living off of it. Yes, her work website is MySharona.com. Should the Knack be angry? Or grateful that Sharona never pressed charges? See, she was only 17 when she & Doug hooked up. Doug always gets up for the touch of the younger kind. It seems only R. Kelly could get away with that kind of talk these days.

Sharona getting the knack, illegally

Turn it up and enjoy!

And what’s with the ties tucked into the shirts? Did they just get back from an Italian restaurant?

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3 Comments

  1. RIP Doug.

    One of the best sounding rock recordings ever.
    And one of the best guitar solos on the long/album version.

    Reply
  2. Yes, the lyric was unbelievably dodgy. The crisp production was by Aussie Mike Chapman, who was just coming off huge success with his production work on Blondie’s Heart Of Glass.

    The following is an excerpt from a chapter in a book of short stories about growing up in the late seventies:

    “Sharona?” Michael said. (The previous month had witnessed the rapid ascension of The Knack and their single ‘My Sharona’: a song in which the singer brazenly, and possibly ill-advisedly, makes it known that he is regularly sexually stimulated by the “younger kind”; these dark underpinnings however, were obscured somewhat by the two-note octave riff that otherwise dominated the track.)
    “Yep.”

    My request for ‘My Sharona’ was refused.
    “Johnny played it ten minutes ago,” the DJ informed me.
    “What about the B-side?” I said.
    “The B-side?”
    “Yeah.”
    “What about it?”
    “Did he play that?” I said, attempting to steer this increasingly circular and almost wholly pointless conversation back on track.
    “I doubt it.”
    “It’s called ‘Let Me Out’, you should play it.”
    “Is it any good?”
    “Yeah,” I said, conveniently ignoring the fact that it was a turgid piece of filler (hence its B-side status).
    “It better be.”

    I entered the rink and started skating. Pretty soon Michael appeared alongside me.
    “Did you request it?” he said.
    “Yeah,” I said. (Technically this was true of course).
    “Cool.”
    “But he’s gonna play ‘Let Me Out’ instead,” I said with an optimistic inflection, trying my best to sell the un-sellable.
    He wasn’t buying.
    “What the hell’s Let Me Out?” he barked.
    “The B-side,” I said, as I made a sudden acceleration, keen to avoid getting caught in the same conversational net twice inside two minutes.

    PS

    WaysToFall70sBlog http://pspurling.blogspot.com

    By the way, I’ve included a link to this website on my blog. Cheers.

    Reply
  1. Sad Eyes by Robert John (EMI America, 1979) « 7 Inches of 70s Pop

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