The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun - Julie Brown

Written by Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, Terrence McNally and Ray Colcord
contributed by Annie Sattler, October 29, 1995
playing time, 4:36

It was homecoming night at my high school
Everyone was there, it was totally cool
I was really excited, I almost wet my jeans
'Cause my best friend Debbie was Homecoming Queen

She looked so pretty in pink chiffon
Riding the float with her tiara on
Holding this humongous bouquet in her hand
She looked straight out of Disneyland
You know, like the Cinderella ride
I mean definitely an E ticket

The crowd was cheering
Everyone was stoked
I mean it was like the whole school
Was totally coked or something
The band was playing "Evergreen"
When all of a sudden somebody screamed
"Look out! The Homecoming Queen's got a gun!"

Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen's got a gun
Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen has got a gun

Debbie's smiling and waving her gun
Picking off cheerleaders one by one
Oh, Buffy's pom-pom just blew to bits
Oh no, Mitzi's head just did the splits
God, my best friend's on a shooting spree
Stop it, Debbie, you're embarassing me
How could you do what you just did?
Are you having a really bad period?

Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen's got a gun
Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen has got a gun

An hour later the cops arrived
By then the entire glee club had died
You wouldn't believe what they brought to stop her
Tear gas, machine guns, even a chopper

"Throw down your gun and tiara and come out of the float!"
Debbie didn't listen to what the cop said
She aimed and fired and now the math teacher's dead
It's really sad, but kind of a relief
I mean, we had this big test coming up next week

Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen's got a gun
Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen has got a gun

The cops fired a warning shot that blew her off the float
I tried to scream "Duck," but it stuck in my throat
She hit the ground and did a flip
It was real acrobatic
But I was crying so hard, I couldn't work my Instamatic

I ran down to Debbie
I had to find out
What made her do it
Why'd she freak out
I saw the bullet had got her right in the ear
I knew then the end was near

So I ran down
And I said in her good ear
"Debbie, why'd you do it?"
She raised her head, smiled, and said
"I did it for Johnny!"

Johnny? Well, like who's Johnny?
Answer me, Debbie. Who's Johnny?
Does anybody here know Johnny?

Are you Johnny?
There was one guy named Johnny,
But he was a total geek
He always had food in his braces
Answer me, Debbie. Who's Johnny?
Oh God, this is like that move Citizen Kane
You know, where later you find out "Rosebud" was a sled
But we'll never know who Johnny was
'Cause, like, she's dead

Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen's got a gun
Everybody run
The Homecoming Queen has got a gun

From The Wacky Top 40 by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo (Holbrook, Mass : Bob Adams Publisher, 1993)

Art imitates life department: Pop jester Julie Brown created this cult classic of a crazed murder-mad coed because she herself had lost out in her high school's homecoming queen contest.

"I was a homecoming princess, not the queen," recalled Julie of her one big disappointment at Van Nuys High in California. "I think the queen totally manipulated people to get the title. Not to be vicious or anything, but she wasn't as popular as she should have been to get that title.

"I was bitter because I wasn't the queen. I think that's why the song popped up from my unconscious."

After recovering emotionally from that high school setback, Brown, an honor student, enrolled at California State University at Northridge to study anthropology. "That lasted about a minute," she said. "I thought we'd be going on digs, but you had to read textbooks and learn chemistry."

Julie then studied drama at Valley Junior College before joining the stuffy American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. "I was very serious about doing theater," she said. "But after a while, I just started goofing around. I felt compelled to make jokes."

With partner Charlie Coffey, Julie wrote and performed in a review called "Atomic Comedy." The duo played in area clubs and opened for such stars as Robin Williams. "It was the first time I started using music in my comedy act," she said. "I played Anita Bryant and did a song called 'Don't Make My Child A Homo' and 'Love from the Waist Up.'"

Julie eventually went solo as a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles where she also made appearances on TV sitcoms such as "The Jeffersons," "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," and "Newhart."

"I got sick of doing stand-up," she said. "You've got to be such a tough cookie and pretend that your feelings don't get hurt when they don't laugh. I played so many bad places. I actually performed on a pool table because there was no stage. They had to build stairs for me out of old beer boxes so I could get onto the pool table. The microphone was hooked to a wire coming out of the ceiling. I was ready for a change."

When Frank and Moon Unit Zappa's wacky tune, "Valley Girl," became a hit, Julie was inspired to redirect her career. "I was doing a Valley Girl character in my act, so when the song came out, I was real depressed," Julie said. "Everyone was telling me 'You should have done that song.' Then I thought, 'Why can't I do records?' So I started writing songs, working with musicians, and taking voice lessons.

"One day I was driving on the freeway and this title just came to me: 'The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun.'" And I knew immediately what it was going to be about." Julie and Charlie Coffey conjured up a perfect blonde queen who guns down nearly everyone at the prom while her best friend shouts in typical Valley Girl logic: "Stop it, Debbie, you're embarrassing me!"

Julie also wrote "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid"--an ode to a woman's guiltless, mindless sex with a hunk: "I go bar hopping and they say last call/I start shopping for a Neanderthal . . . Smart guys are nowhere--they make demands/Give me a moron with talented hands." Actor Terrence McNally, Julie's husband-to-be, loved the songs so much he offered to produce them himself. With "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid" on the flip side, 20,000 copies of "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" were pressed. After free records were sent to hip DJs and college radio stations around the country, the song began to get wide airplay.

Meanwhile, Julie made her own video of the song that brought Debbie's murderous saga--and her cartoonishly bloodless killings--to life. The singer played both the pistol-packing prom queen and her embarrassed best friend. However, MTV, apparently unfamiliar with the idea of satire, deemed the video too violent for the tender sensibilities of its viewers. "It's really absurd," said Julie at the time. "The video is as violent as a Roadrunner cartoon."

Undaunted, Julie and her fiance sold all 20,000 copies of the record out of their house. "It was really a nightmare trying to collect from independent distributors, doing phone interviews, and turning our home into a record warehouse," she said. Eventually the couple made a deal with Rhino Records to include the two songs with three others on an EP called "Goddess in Progress." It became one of Rhino's biggest sellers.


Julie and her writing partner, Charlie Coffey, wrote 14 drafts of "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun."

There were other characters who got killed off and other incidents in earlier versions," said Brown. "But the song was getting too long, so we took only the best verses.

"We had a good time writing it. We laughed a lot."


The first time Julie Brown sang "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" live, it bombed--because she performed it at a bar mitzvah!

"I had just recorded the song in the studio and I thought, 'I've got to try this out live,'" she recalled. "Budd Friedman, who runs the Improv, had booked a bar mitzvah during the day and asked me to sing.

"I was so excited about this new song that I sang 'The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun' at the bar mitzvah. I don't know what I was thinking about. I remember that as I was singing, the mothers were staring at me like I was out of my mind. I realized then it was just so wrong, but I went ahead and sang it. That was not a good choice."


Julie co-wrote the screenplay to the movie Earth Girls Are Easy in which she also co-starred with Geena Davis. Julie, who co-starred in the Fox network's comedy show "The Edge," continues to pursue an acting career.
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