Category Archives: Was (Not Was)

Radio XLVII, side A, track 13: “Break The Rules” by Was (Not Was)

burger kingOh, Burger King, this song has been driving me crazy!!!!  I uploaded it awhile ago, and I THOUGHT this was an ad for you guys, but I wasn’t sure.  I kept plugging in the lyrics to the internet, but I could not get a hit.  It was seriously causing me some anxiety, Burger King, because the day was fast approaching when this song would be the next one on my track list, and I really, really wanted to know what the hell this song was.

And then the time to write up a post about this track arrived, and I was still not sure what to do.  I tried one more time to see if any lyrics showed up in Google.  They didn’t.  So I listened to the song and transcribed the lyrics as best as I could.  And as I was listening to it for probably the thousandth time, because the other thing about this song was that I really, really enjoyed it, which is why I recorded it off the radio in the first place, but anyway, Burger King, as I was listening to it for the thousandth time, I thought to myself, “This REALLY sounds like Was (Not Was). . .”.  So in desperation, I tried one more Google search, searching by “Burger King” and “Was (Not Was)”, but without any real hope of finding anything.  But then, hallelujah!, the fifth result down was an article from the New York Times about Burger King’s new “Break The Rules” campaign, and by new, it was dated September 28, 1989, which would be right around the time I was recording this particular batch of songs off the radio, and the article talked about how there were a bunch of new ads featuring Mel Torme, John Lee Hooker, and wait for it. . .Was (Not Was)!

I’m no detective, Burger King, but this was as close to definitive proof as I was likely to get that this was indeed a Burger King ad by Was (Not Was).  And it did help me figure out what the lyrics that I THOUGHT were “It’s your way, we can be cool”, which didn’t really make much sense, were actually “It’s your way, BK, be cool”.  Ahhhhh yes!  That BK  reference was the smoking gun, Burger King!  This HAD to be a Burger King ad by Was (Not Was).  And now, NOW, until the internet runs dry, if anyone else has been trying to remember this song for the last 30 years, or maybe even 100 years from now, after I’m long gone, THIS post, THIS post will be the reference point for anyone trying to remember that catchy ad by Was (Not Was), even though it’s a little disappointing and annoying that they sold out to a fast-food restaurant (but nowhere NEAR as annoying as a few years later when we had to hear Dan Cortese screaming “I loooooove this place!” every other goddamn commercial. . .).

And after all that, Burger King, I think I may have actually only eaten at your restaurant maybe twice in my whole childhood.  I’m not even sure where the nearest Burger King was.  There MIGHT have been one in Marshall, which was about 30 miles away.  There MIGHT have been one in Worthington, which was 45 miles away.  I know for sure that there was one in Sioux Falls (75 miles away, an inconceivable drive when I was a kid) because I do remember eating there one time as a kid when they were selling these 3-packs of mini-burgers. . .did a quick Google search, and yeah, I’m remembering that right, too, they were Burger Shots, and I thought they were the neatest things in the world.  We didn’t go to Sioux Falls too often, if ever, so I’m guessing we were picking up my uncle from the airport or something.  Point is, Burger King, I actually didn’t know much about your food at all until college.

As with most food products, I have of course made up for lost time and have many fine memories of your fine establishment.  The first time I did a beer bong was immediately after I’d eaten a Whopper Meal, and when I tried to belch after downing three cans of beer at once, I instead threw up my entire evening meal.  While I don’t know that anyone can deny that McDonald’s has a superior Happy Meal, I have gotten many cool toys and swag in my adulthood from you, like some Scooby-Doo toys and a Bart Simpson watch and a Star Trek glass (and a real glass, too!) with Zoe Saldana on it (hubba hubba).

Growing up, Hardee’s was the place our family would go to for a night out on the town, mainly because that was the only fast food restaurant in a 50-mile radius.  And I’m not complaining about that, because I loved me a mushroom and swiss burger and the Moose cup (I think my parents still have tons of those cups laying around) and the curly fries.  During college and beyond, McDonald’s tended to be my drug of choice (I used to order what my wife would disgustedly call “The Triple”: A Big Mac, a McDouble, a Filet-O-Fish, large fries and a Coke).  Now that I’m a vegetarian, my fast food intake has dropped dramatically.  BUT, you make a veggie burger, Burger King, and it’s not bad.  It ALMOST tastes like the real thing.  Almost.  But Culver’s actually has a veggie burger, too, AND they have cheese curds, AND they’re from the Midwest, AND their customer service is ridiculously good, AND they’re just a teensy bit easier to get to from the house.  Plus there’s a good local place called P. Terry’s that has a damn fine veggie burger, too, and they’re within walking distance of the house.

I’ll tell you this, Burger King, if you would have told me when I first recorded this song off the radio that I would one day be an overweight vegetarian living in Texas and writing something called a “blog” and had the ability to share my cassette tapes with everyone on the planet and was also within walking distance of several fast food places, the only part of that sentence I would have heard was “within walking distance of several fast food places”.

“Break The Rules”

Sometimes ya might wear ya high tops with a tux

Go for broke to go deluxe

Throw ya dog a birthday blast

Men and money just don’t last

It’s your way, BK, be cool, sometimes you just got to break the rules
Sometimes ya just gotta break the rules, sometimes ya just gotta break
The ruuuuules

Send a dozen roses to ya mother-in-law

That’s what C.O.D. is for

Use a famous name ta get a front-row seat

If the spirit moooves ya, drop a beat

It’s your way, BK, be cool, sometimes you just got to break the rules
Sometimes ya just gotta break the rules, sometimes ya just gotta break
The ruuuuules
Sing along with the opera
La laaaaa la la la laaaaaa lalala la

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