Our Top 10 Songs from The Waitresses takes a look at a band that was gone way too soon. However, in the short time during the late 1970s and early 1980’s that the band was active, they released two incredible albums, an EP and a few singles that were wonderful contributions to classic rock history.The band was founded in 1978 by guitarist Chris Butler. Every song recorded by The Waitresses was composed by Chris Butler. His musical compositions and arrangements were unique and straddled the genres of jazz, rock and punk. However, their music was so unique, it is hard to define that they really sounded like anyone. With incredibly witty, intelligent lyrics, addictive melodies and musical arrangements, Chris Butler’s compositions just needed the right vocalist to sell them. He found the perfect vocalist with the incredible Patty Donahue.
The first Waitresses song that most fans heard back in the early 1980’s was the fabulous single “I Know What Boys Like.” The song had originally been recorded by Chris Butler but remained virtually undiscovered. It was Patty Donahue’s vocal performance of the song on the remake that helped capture a cult audience boarding on mass appeal. The song broke the Billboard top 100 peaking at 65.
The band has been classified by many writers as punk, but their sound and musicianship defined a group far more interesting than what a punk label portrays. The band’s first full length album entitled Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful was released in January of 1982. The album featured Patty Donahue on vocals, Mars Williams on woodwinds, Tracy Wormworth and David Hofstra on bass, Billy Ficca on drums, Dan Klayman on keyboards, Chris Butler on guitar and Ariel Warner on backing vocals. Additional musicians on the album also included Ralph Carney who played saxophone on “No Guilt” and “I Know What Boys Like,” Don Christensen who performed drums on “No Guilt,” Rick Dailey who also played piano on “I Know What Boys Like,” and Stuart Austin who played drums on “I Know What Boys Like.”
The band followed up their debut album with an EP released in November of 1982 entitled I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts. The EP contained their single “Christmas Wrapping.”
The band’s second and final full length album was released in 1983 entitled Bruiseology . One year after Bruiseology was released the band broke up. All the material the band recorded has also been released on several compilation albums. A live performance recorded at the legendary New York Club, club My Father’s Place in 1982, was released on CD in 1997 on the King Biscuit Flower Hour Series.
Sadly in 1996, Patty Donahue passed away at the young age of forty years old. The musical period between the 1978 and 1982 is one of the most ignored periods in rock and roll history. Band like Blondie, The Ramones etc.. received much attention. However, there were so many bands like The Waitresses that were recording fantastic albums that have been forgotten. We think the early 1980’s is also one of the most interesting in rock and roll history. Bands like The Waitresses played a pivotal role during that period.
# 10 – I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts
We open up our Top 10 Waitresses songs list with the track “I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts.” The song was first released on the EP of the same name in 1982. It was originally released by the band Tin Huey. The song was also included on The Waitresses live album from King Biscuit.
# 9 – Wise Up
“Wise Up,” was released as the second track on the album Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? The song featured the wonderful sarcastic vocals of Patty Donahue and a killer sick guitar solo by Chris Butler. We can listen to this album every day and never get sick of it.
# 8 – Square Pegs
The Waitresses song “Square Pegs,” was originally recorded as the theme song for the television series Square Pegs. The song was released on the I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts EP and the band’s greatest hits compilation CDs. One of the best television theme songs of the 1980s and most people have probably never heard of it.
# 7 – A Girl’s Gotta Do
The great song “A Girl’s Gotta Do,” was the opening track to the band’s album Bruiseology. The record was released in 1983.
# 6 – Heat Night
Continuing with our top 10 songs from the Waitresses we once again return to their debut album Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful. Just listen to the great instrumental opening to the song “Heat Night,” and try to label this band as punk. They were soooo much more.
# 5 – It’s My Car
Listening to Patty Donahue complain about wanting to drive her own car in that voice of hers was one of our favorite moments on the Waitresses debut album. Another killer track from this great band.
# 4 – Everything’s Wrong If My Hair Is Wrong
Rock and roll philosophy from a female standpoint at it’s best. This great track was released on the Bruiseology album in 1983. Sadly there is no YouTube video of the song.
# 3 – Make The Weather
Make The Weather was the standout track from the band’s second album Bruiseology. The song’s great hook became a fan favorite from the moment it was released.
# 2 – I Know What Boys Like
It was tough to chooses between the top 2 songs on our Top 10 Songs of the Waitresses list. “I Know What Boys Like,” is easily the most recognizable song the band ever released. The simplicity of the video is driven by the complexity of the characters in it, specifically Patty Donahue. It was one of those videos you could not stop watching.
# 1 – Christmas Wrapping
This is not only our favorite song from the Waitresses, it is our favourite Rock and Roll Christmas song of all time. The story told on this great track perfectly defined the personality of Patty Donahue in the band. A wonderful Christmas Story attached to a pitch perfect sarcastic vocal performance by the great Patty Donahue. Her vocal inflections and phrasing made the listener hang on to every syllable while believing in every word she sang. Chris Butler was the genius behind the band but Patty Donahue’s vocals and stage presence was the main attraction. We would not be writing this article if not for her.