The Knack’s “My Sharona” Lyrics Meaning
The Knack’s “My Sharona” is one of the major classics in American music history. And accordingly there is deep history behind it. But as far as its origin, the story basically goes like this. Doug Fieger (1952-2010), the lead singer of The Knack, had a love-at-first-sight experience with a 17-year old girl named Sharona Alperin. This is someone whom Doug met via his own girlfriend at the time (who was a friend of Alperin). Moreover Sharona herself was also dating someone else whom she later stated that she was “madly in love with”. However, none of this stopped Doug Fieger from pushing up on her – hard. In fact he wrote “My Sharona”, as well as other lyrical expressions of his affection for Alperin, before they even got together.
Lyrics are from a Teenager’s Perspective
So with that being established, it is also noteworthy to mention that Doug is eight years’ Sharona’s senior, being 25-years old himself when they first met. However, he contended that the lyrics of this song are being relayed via the perspective of a 14-year old. And yes, overall the wording of “My Sharona” and the feelings being relayed are quite simplistic. For instance, he lets it be known, in his own way, that he is smitten by her beauty. Moreover she makes the “motor” of the singer “run”. Succinctly put, that means she gets him excited and on a more-mature level turns him on.
Indeed in many instances, we can say that the lyrics read as if they are being relayed by someone more grown than a 14-year old. For instance, most boys that age are not necessarily preoccupied with getting their romantic interest to ‘give in to him’. And it is also revealed that he has “a dirty mind”, i.e. overt-sensual thoughts, in relation to her. But most pointedly is when the singer states that he ‘always gets it up for the touch of the younger kind’. Now we’re not even going to get into what ‘getting it up’ symbolizes, as any mildly-adult reader is probably already aware.
But rather if he is 14 and Sharona is notably younger than him, then we’re definitely entering the ethical danger zone here. So let’s just say that whereas Doug intended this song to have a youthful feel, at certain points his actual 20-something age is also manifest.
All in All
As aforementioned, Fieger wrote this track while in the midst of trying to get with the girl in question. And that is perhaps the sentiment that is most apparent throughout. Yes, generally speaking it can be classified as a love song. The numerous chants of “my Sharona” make that abundantly clear, even if a listener is not familiar with the rest of the wording. But we can also see that this is someone whom he is fantasizing about, not an actual girlfriend. Or more perceivably, the purpose of this song is not only to let the addressee know he loves her but also to serve as an attempt to actually initiate a romantic relationship with her.
Release Date of “My Sharona”
This song came out during June of 1979 as part of The Knack’s debut album, “Get the Knack”. And the label behind that project is Capitol Records.
There are two other songs on “Get the Knack” which are recognized as being from Doug Fieger to Sharona Alperin. They are “(She’s So) Selfish” and “That’s What the Little Girls Do”.
Sharona Alperin appears on the Cover of “My Sharona”
It should be noted that the lady in the tight, virtually see-through tank top who graces the cover of “My Sharona” is actually Sharona Alperin. And just for the record, she went on to become a major real estate agent. She also remained friends with Doug Fieger throughout the years, right up until his final days on Earth. He passed away from lung cancer in 2010.
Inspiration from the 1960s
Some listeners may be compelled to believe that “My Sharona” is from the 1960s due to the way it sounds. And they are correct in the sense that the melody was influenced by a 1967 track entitled “Gimme Some Lovin” by Spencer Davis Group. Moreover the rhythm of the tom-tom drum was derived from a 1965 Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ song entitled “Going to a Go-Go”. And it also has been put forth that the unforgettable stuttering technique utilized in the track’s chorus is similar to the vocal style used by The Who in “My Generation” (1965).
The credited writers of this song are the two original members of The Knack, Doug Fieger and Berton Averre. However, Fieger is recognized as being its primary writer. And he reportedly did so in just 15 minutes. Meanwhile the production was handled by Mike Chapman.
It is also interesting to note that at first Berton was not down with the idea of naming the song after Sharona Alperin.
An International Hit
“My Sharona” went on to become a massive success, indeed one of the most-recognizable tracks in American music history. In its day, it topped both the Billboard Hot 100 (for six weeks) and Cash Box Top 100. And upon Billboard’s 50th anniversary, they recognized this song on two of their ‘all time’ lists. These where the “Top Hot 100 Rock Songs“, where it scored a number 16 and the “Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs“, where it came in at number 75.
The track also reached number one in Canada (where it has gone Platinum), Australia and Italy. Moreover it got as far as number six on the UK Singles Chart, and overall it charted in over a dozen nations.
Popular Usage of “My Sharona”
And as a further testament to its legacy the song re-charted in Australia and the US in 1994. This was after being featured on the soundtrack of the Winona Ryder rom-com “Reality Bites”.
Other movies this track was featured on include “RocketMan” (1997) and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” (2003).
“My Sharona” also made an appearance on a handful of videogames, including a couple of incarnations of the “Rock Band” franchise.
Some More Facts about “My Sharona”
Here a couple of other interesting facts surrounding this classic tune. It is on record as being a favorite or at least part of the personal playlist of former US President George W. Bush.
Additionally Michael Jackson’s highly-successful tune “Beat It” (1982) actually resulted from an attempt by him to write a “Black” song similar to “My Sharona”.
“My Sharona” itself also made the name Sharona more popular amongst newborn baby girls in the United States.
A parody of the tune, entitled “My Bologna”, was the first official single Weird Al Yankovic ever released. And this comedic piece even received the blessing of Doug Fieger himself. Fieger later even helped Weird Al get his first record deal.
However, when the likes of Quentin Tarantino wanted to use “My Sharona” in the classic crime film “Pulp Fiction”, Fieger did not approve. In fact he was presented with proposals to feature the tune in both “Pulp Fiction” (1994) and “Reality Bites” on the same day. And in terms of the former, he wasn’t necessarily feeling the idea of his song being used for a “homosexual rape scene”.
Doug Fieger talks about his love for Sharona
Of course Fieger has gone on to state that he was in fact in love with Sharona Alperin at the time. And he likened the experience of falling for her to “getting hit in the head with a baseball bat”. Moreover his instant love for the lady resulted in the artist “writing a lot of songs feverishly in a short amount of time”.
For the record, Doug Fieger and Sharona Alperin did go on to date for four years. The whole experience resulted in her becoming sort of a pseudo-celebrity, in addition to altering the trajectory of her life. And at the end of the day, Sharona actually dumped Doug, as she felt it was the time for her to establish her own identity outside of “My Sharona”.
Member of The Knack talk about “My Sharona”
In terms of the actual mega success of “My Sharona”, Fieger noted that it blew up globally very rapidly. Or in his own words, he stated “it went from nobody ever having heard it to heaving rotation in one day”.
Meanwhile Berton Averre attributed some of the success of this song to the fact that “Sharona wasn’t a name that hadn’t been used [in pop music] before”.
As the decades progressed, “My Sharona” has proven to be The Knacks’ only truly-identifiable hit. And in regards to that reality, Averre understands that a song of this magnitude would logically “overshadow other things about the band”.
He also went on to note that during the recording of “My Sharona” Judy Halpert, Fieger’s long-standing girlfriend (whom he ultimately dumped for Sharona), was also present. This caused some discomfort in Berton, who went on to remind Doug that he was indeed about to sing about one girl while another one was present. However, he quotes Fieger as having exclaimed that he “don’t care about that kind of stuff”. And in hindsight Averre has stated “God bless him for not caring”.
Then expounding even further, he went on to state that “lead singers are different animals than the rest of us”. And what Berton meant by that is that the likes of Doug Fieger tend to cast all apprehensions and self-doubts aside in the pursuit of musical success. Indeed in remembering Fieger, he said that “Doug had an incredible self-confidence in everything.”
i want to call my new wife sharona because i can use the words singing them to her. turn her on with such an unusual name and lyrics. she is such a fox bless her body and mind
I remember this song vividly from several specific points in my life from back in the 80s & 90s (Jr & Sr high + college years). A few of them involved hot girls but also from school dances and then hanging out in general while in the college years. This song was constantly found on 80s greatest hits CDs manufactured in the 1990s which was no surprise to me. It was very popular and fun to dance to, especially the extended edition. MHO is that the girls actually liked it more than the guys did… Not that it mattered. It was always a pleaser whether you were in a crowd or were with one girl. Good times, good times! I still listen to it frequently as a mid 50s aged guy… along with all my other favorites from the era. As has been stated trillions of times before by folks the world over, why oh why can’t we get back to good music like this and ditch the ? that’s been coming out since the early 1990s?!? Grunge, rap, alternative, hip hop and onto whatever the sorry excuse it is for music that we currently have… Oh dear Lord, we are DOOMED!! At least Journey, Def Leppard and an ever shrinking number of good bands are still rocking it like it’s 1989!