My Sharona

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"My Sharona"
MySharonaCover.jpg
Single by The Knack
from the album Get the Knack
B-side"Let Me Out"
ReleasedJune 1979
Format7-inch single
RecordedApril 1979
Genre
Length3:58 (single edit)
4:52 (album version)
LabelCapitol
Songwriter(s)Doug Fieger, Berton Averre
Producer(s)Mike Chapman
The Knack singles chronology
"My Sharona"
(1979)
"Good Girls Don't"
(1979)
Audio sample

"My Sharona" (/ʃəˈrnə/) is the debut single by the Knack. The song was written by Berton Averre and Doug Fieger, and released in 1979 from their album Get the Knack. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart where it remained for 6 weeks, and was number one on Billboard's 1979 Top Pop Singles year-end chart.

It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing half a million copies sold, and was Capitol Records' fastest gold status debut single since the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964.[4]

Inspiration[edit]

When Fieger was 25 years old, he met 17-year-old Sharona Alperin,[5] who inspired a two-month-long run of songwriting, as well as becoming Fieger's girlfriend for the next four years. Fieger recounted that "It was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat; I fell in love with her instantly. And when that happened, it sparked something and I started writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time." Fieger and Averre worked out the structure and melody of the song. Averre was originally averse to using Alperin's name in the song, but Fieger wanted it to be a direct expression of his feelings; Averre ultimately relented.[6] Fieger claimed that "My Sharona" was written in 15 minutes.[7]

Fieger and Alperin were engaged at one point, but never married.[5] In a 2005 interview, Fieger said that they remained "great friends".[5] Alperin went on to a successful career as a realtor in Los Angeles.[8][9]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The music of the song echoes many elements of songs from the 1960s. According to a Trouser Press reviewer, the song's main melodic hook is "an inversion of the signature riff" from "Gimme Some Lovin'", a 1967 song by the Spencer Davis Group.[10] Fieger acknowledged that the song's tom-tom drum rhythm is "just a rewrite" of "Going to a Go-Go", a song from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles from 1965.[10] Drummer Bruce Gary has stated that although he did not particularly like the song when Fieger introduced it to the band, he came up with the stuttering beat for the song similar to a surf stomp.[11] He also decided to incorporate a flam, in which two drum strokes are staggered, creating a fuller sound, which Gary considered to be crucial to the song's success.[11]

In an interview with The Washington Post, Fieger also noted that the song was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy.[5]

The song's stuttering vocal effect of the repeated "muh muh muh my Sharona" phrase is reminiscent of Roger Daltrey's vocals in the 1965 song "My Generation" by the Who.[10]

Music video[edit]

The music video features the band performing the song in a white room.[citation needed]

Artwork[edit]

In addition to being the inspiration for the song, Sharona Alperin posed for the single's picture sleeve holding a copy of the Knack's debut album Get the Knack.[8]

Reception[edit]

The song's clean production sound was also reminiscent of the sound of the 1960s British Invasion.[10] Dick Nusser of Billboard remarked on the song's "catchy, deliberately awkward, stop-go drum and guitar breaks", its "quirky lyrics" and "suggestive tone", and that the song will "make you ready, willing and able to hum the refrain at the right moment."[12] In the Pazz & Jop 1979 Critic's Poll "My Sharona" and Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" were tied for sixth place in the list of top singles of the year.[13]

Chris Woodstra of AllMusic has subsequently referred to the song as an "unforgettable hit."[14] The New Rolling Stone Album Guide claimed that the song "was a hit for a good reason. The beat is urgent, the chorus calls out for drunken shouting along and the guitar solo is a firecracker flash."[15]

Legacy[edit]

The New York Times called the song "an emblem of the new wave era in rock and a prime example of the brevity of pop fame."[7]

During the making of Michael Jackson's 1982 Thriller album, producer Quincy Jones aspired to include a rock and roll-inspired song, in vein of "My Sharona", Jackson subsequently wrote "Beat It".[16]

In 2008, "My Sharona" was ranked in two Billboard 50th anniversary charts. It ranked 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs[17] and 16 on the Top Billboard Hot 100 Rock Songs.[18][19]

In 1994, "My Sharona" re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at number 91,[20] when it was released as part of the Reality Bites soundtrack album.[21][22] In the film itself, the characters dance to the song at a convenience store.[23] This version was remixed by Dave Jerden and features, among other changes, a much more prominent drum sound.[24]

In 2005, the song gained some attention when it appeared on the playlist of U.S. President George W. Bush's iPod.[25]

"Girl U Want" by Devo, from the album Freedom of Choice, was allegedly inspired by "My Sharona", although Devo's Gerald Casale has denied this.[26]

Use in other media[edit]

In video games, a cover of "My Sharona" is featured as downloadable content for the Rock Band series. This version was later updated for Rock Band 3 to support the Pro Guitar feature.[27] The original version of the song, along with its music video, is featured on Lips: Party Classics on Xbox 360.

In films, the song was heard in the 1994 film Reality Bites, the 1997 Disney film RocketMan,[28] the trailer for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle,[29] in J.J. Abrams' Super 8,[30] and in Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!!.[31] In 1994, the song was almost used in the hit film Pulp Fiction.[32]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Covers, parodies, and samples[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

Cover versions of "My Sharona" include:

Parodies[edit]

Audio samples[edit]

"Let Me Out"[edit]

The B-side of the "My Sharona" single was "Let Me Out". It was written by Fieger and Averre to fill the band's need for a strong opening track for concerts and later for their Get the Knack album.[63] Averre has stated that the song is "absurdly fast."[63] Drummer Bruce Gary felt that the words of "Let Me Out" helped make the song a perfect opener since the band wanted to "let out", and bassist Prescott Niles noted that, with the song, the band was all of a sudden "out of the box."[63] Gary has also claimed that the song was "me trying to be Buddy Rich in a rock 'n' roll band. It was just full on."[63]

Billboard described "Let Me Out" as "a teen anthem delivered at full throttle" and praised the song's "delightful" harmonies, "slapping" guitars and "perfectly tuned" drumming.[12] Superchunk and The Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster commented on the "full force" of Gary's drumming on "Let Me Out."[64] Ira Robbins and Michael Sandlin of Trouser Press described the song as "tight guitar pop."[65] Author John Borack described the song as "a damn fine pop tune."[66] Audio magazine called it a "basher" with "plenty of style."[67] AllMusic critic Mark Deming stated that the live version of "Let Me Out" has "a joyous force nearly any act would envy."[68] Dave Swanson of Ultimate Classic Rock called it "one of the most powerful album openers ever."[69]

A 1979 live performance of "Let Me Out" from Carnegie Hall was included on the laser disc of Live at Carnegie Hall.[70] The song was included on their compilation album, Premium Gold Collection.[71] A 2012 vinyl EP for Record Store Day includes 1978 live performances of "Let Me Out" and "My Sharona" from Los Angeles and two other songs. The two performances are also included on the live CD of the entire 1978 Los Angeles concert Havin' a Rave-Up.[68][72]

References[edit]

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  2. ^
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  4. ^ Atkinson, Terry (October 18, 1979). "The Knack: yesterday ... and today". Rolling Stone: 32.
  5. ^ a b c d Lieby, Richard (April 17, 2005). "'My Sharona,' Revealing a Knack for Current Affairs?". The Washington Post. p. D3.
  6. ^ Liner notes, 2002 "Get the Knack" digitally remastered re-issue.
  7. ^ a b Sisario, Ben (February 15, 2010). "Doug Fieger Dies at 57, Singer of 'My Sharona'". New York Times. New York (published February 16, 2010). p. A25.
  8. ^ a b Campos, Susan (June 11, 2019). "In 1979 a Hit Song Made This Future L.A. Real Estate Agent a Pop Culture Icon". LAmag.com. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  9. ^ Lazo, Alejandro (February 18, 2010). "M-m-m-my career in real estate: Sharona Alperin, who at 17 was the real-life inspiration for the 1979 Knack megahit, now sells high-end homes to celebrities". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ a b c d Cateforis, Theodore (2011). Are We Not New Wave? : Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s. University of Michigan Press. pp. 123–127. ISBN 978-0-472-03470-3.
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  52. ^ "Italian single certifications – The Knack – My Sharona" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved October 7, 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "My Sharona" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  53. ^ "American single certifications – The Knack – My Sharona". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 10, 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
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External links[edit]