In 1981, Marshall Crenshaw released his debut recording, a 45 RPM single called “Something’s Gonna Happen” on New York’s Shake Records. On the strength of the song, Crenshaw signed to Warner Brothers and recorded his eponymous album, co-produced with Richard Gottehrer, which scored a top 40 hit with “Someday, Someway.” In the 30 years since his first release, Crenshaw has portrayed both John Lennon (in the Off-Broadway musical Beatlemania) and Buddy Holly (in the film La Bamba), and has had his songs covered by Bette Midler and Ronnie Spector, among others. His rock and power-pop proved an inspiration for ‘90s bands like Gin Blossoms, with whom Crenshaw co-wrote the hit song, “Til I Hear It From You.” Even more recently, Crenshaw penned the title song to the John C. Reilly comedy Walk Hard.
Looking back on his recording debut, Crenshaw tells American Songwriter about writing “Something’s Gonna Happen” and how he found inspiration from Blondie, Mac Curtis, and Eddie Cochran.
“I don’t specifically remember writing ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ back in 1980-81; I was writing loads of songs at that time, every few days there’d be a new one. I tried hard back then not to get bogged down thinking up subject matter and would usually just try to think of a hook or a title and use the first decent one that came to mind. Most of my songs then were about male/female or partner A/partner B situations, either based on fiction or personal experience or a combination of both. Having said that, I think ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ has great lyrics; it gives a sense of detail and of the feelings involved. It’s a good horny Rock and Roll song. In the bridge I name-check the song ‘Hanging On the Telephone,’ recorded by Blondie. The phrase ‘wreck my nerves,’ also in the bridge, came from a song by Mac Curtis called ‘Little Miss Linda.’
“The reason that I wrote that song and all the other ones I’ve written, even up until right now, is to give myself something to record; when I’m writing a song I’m always anxiously thinking about the recording process, which I love. I know though that if I don’t take care of business with the writing and make something honest and worthy then the recording will be a drag.
“The first demo I did of ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ had a pretty straightforward arrangement, nothing very distinctive. But then I got the idea to make the arrangement and recording as much like ‘C’mon Everybody’ by Eddie Cochran as possible; I took that path and wound up with something really great. When I hear that record now I always smile, I never cringe.”
To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of “Something’s Gonna Happen,” Crenshaw will be playing three shows at New York’s City Winery, on April 29 – May 1, joined by his brother Robert Crenshaw on drums, along with special guest Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, and bassist Graham Maby. The group will play Crenshaw’s eponymous 1982 album from start to finish.
“Something’s Gonna Happen”
The dead of night and I’m all alone, yeah
I got my hand on the telephone
I’ve got to get ahold of you, ’cause when I do
I tell you something’s gonna happen
Now just forget about your boyfriend, yeah
and I’ll forget about my girlfriend
Come over and I’ll show you how, I need you now
I said something’s gonna happen
Aw baby, baby, baby
You know you really really wreck my nerves
You got my head goin’ round and my feet off the ground
(You got me hangin’ on the telephone)
Now we’re all alone
With the lights on down low, yeah
Rockin’ music on the radio
It’s just the way it ought to be, and momentarily
I tell you something’s gonna happen
Written by Marshall Crenshaw