Gone Daddy Gone was the debut single by Violent Femmes back in 1983. It also appears on one of the finest of all debut albums.

It’s a reminder that many of the songs were written by Gordon Gano when he was an angtsy teenager, one for whom life wasn’t going smoothly or according to plan. Especially when it came to landing himself a girlfriend. His pain is even more palpable from the fact he actually had wooed the girl of his dreams, only for her to call it off and disappear out of his life, to where, he says, he can only guess.

But then again, given some of the other crazy thoughts and lyrics that Gano would bring our way in subsequent releases, it could well be the case that the reason his love has gone away is that he has killed her and put her in a shallow grave or the likes…….

It’s a tremendous debut, sung with just the right sound of puzzled desperation over a tune which, as its highlight features a xylophone solo. Not too many tunes in the history of rock’n’roll can make that sort of boast.

mp3 : Violent Femmes – Gone Daddy Gone

Also worth noting that bluesman Willie Dixon would later on, long after the single was released, receive a co-writing credit, thanks to the lyrics including a verse from his 1954 song “I Just Want to Make Love to You” which was originally recorded by Muddy Waters but is probably most famous in the UK for its use in a Diet Coke advert in 1996 with a vocal by Etta James.

The UK version of the Violent Femmes debut 45 came with a superb b-side, one which is arguably even better than the single, and a track which can also be found on the debut album:-

mp3 : Violent Femmes – Add It Up

Copies of this 45, which came out jointly on Slash and Rough Trade Records, are quite rare and the only one for sale on Discogs is looking for in excess of £50. (and no, I don’t own a copy!!)



  1. I always loved this song and MTV even snuck a memorable black + white video into light rotation in the years before their weekly program 20 Minutes effectively created an “alternative ghetto” for anything interesting that no longer stood a chance in their playlist. I immediately recognized the Willie Dixon quote in the song at the time and he should have been getting royalties from the beginning. Good for him for demanding his due from [more] white boys ripping him off! To this day, I will quote the title of this song wherever appropriate. It seems to be appropriate a lot!

  2. Gnarls Barkley did a great cover of this tune on their debut album. But you just can’t beat the xylophone solo–played by the Femme’s bassist! ‘Add It Up’ is also stellar but we got ‘Good Feeling’ on the b-side of the domestic single.

  3. Loved that first album. Sadly don’t have Gone daddy Gone as a single – would I be able to part ith it anyway -but did buy the Ugly 12″. The Femmes will always have a special place in my heart as I managed to persuade a rather attractive girl to come with me to their gig at Reading University in 1984. I was amazed when she agreed to come with me, giving up spending an evening at a friend’s 18th birthday. 35 years later we’re still together! Thanks Gordon, Brian and Victor!

  4. I also love the Gordon Gano side gospel-punk project, “The Mercy Seat.” It threw everyone for a loop when the Femmes sophomore album had gospel songs on it, so he probably decided for another band to better pursue that thread. Gano is not the lead vocalist though. He trades off call and response with Ms. Zena Von Heppinstall, who cuts an unforgettable swath through the songs.

  5. Thanks. It would have probably been even better had it not taken me a week to realise that the main attraction for her was NOT the Violent Femmes. D’oh!

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