It’s hard to be down and listen to this song. According to Rundgren, most of this song came to him in a dream, including the entire chorus. Fortunately, he was at home near his studio, so he was able to quickly roll out of bed, record what he could remember, and fill in the rest later.
He said that he never took the song seriously and was surprised when it was released as a sing.
The song peaked at #63 in the Billboard 100 in 1983.
Rundgren added that he believes the song became popular “solely because of the line about banging on the boss’s head,” and said, “It’s a party anthem, and at least once a year I get a request to use it in a commercial or a movie. I hate playing it live, though. I feel ape-like. My hands get tired, my ears get tired. But the audience loves it.”
Rundgren is a distinguished songwriter, musician and composer, but this novelty romp is one of his most-played songs. How does he feel about the broad swath of the population that know him only for this song? In an interview with Bullz-Eye, he explained: “I like the idea that I’ve written a song that is well known to a broad segment of the population…and they have no idea why they know it! In the same sense that everybody knows ‘Happy Birthday,’ but they can’t remember the first time they heard it, and they have no idea who wrote it. But you’ve penetrated the cultural consciousness in a way that transcends the typical pop song, and what it means is that if I never have another hit record on the radio again, that song is still going to be around likely twenty-five years from now. People probably don’t remember Gary Glitter, but they know “Rock And Roll Part 2″! And in that sense, it has somewhat of a more protractile life span, I guess.”
In a Songfacts interview with Todd Rundgren, he cited this as one of the most important songs of his career, because “I made so much money off of it.” He added: “Everybody likes to hear that ‘Bang The Drum’ song, but everyone’s connection to that is that one line in the song where it talks about abusing your boss (‘I pound on that drum like it was the boss’s head’). I can identify with that, but I don’t really enjoy playing the song that much because it’s just a lot of screaming and flailing around.”
Some of the commercial uses of this song include a TV commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines and a scene in the TV show The Office. It is played at a variety of sporting events and frequently used in movie trailers. Radio stations often play it at quitting time (5 p.m.), as an anthem for working stiffs ready to escape the clutches of their employer. In 2012, Rundgren said that the song makes him “six figures every couple of months,” thanks mostly to Carnival.
After moving to Hawaii, Rundgren had some fun with this song, performing a ukulele version called “Bang On The Ukulele Daily” that he introduced as “an old Hawaiian war chant.” You can hear it on his 2000 album One Long Year.
To mark his 60th, 65th and 70th birthdays, Rundgren organized “Toddstock” celebrations for his core fans, which were intimate gatherings in the outdoors. At these events, drum circles often formed to play “Band The Drum All Day.”
Bang The Drum All Day
I don’t want to work
I want to bang on the drum all day
I don’t want to play
I just want to bang on the drum all day
Ever since I was a tiny boy
I don’t want no candy
I don’t need no toy
I took a stick and an old coffee can
I bang on that thing till I got
Blisters on my hand because
When I get older they think I’m a fool
The teacher told me I should stay after school
She caught me pounding on the desk with my hands
But my licks was so hot
I made the teacher want to dance
And that’s why
Listen to this
Every day when I get home from work
I feel so frustrated
The boss is a jerk
And I get my sticks and go out to the shed
And I pound on that drum like it was the boss’s head
I can bang that drum
Hey, you want to take a bang at it?
I can do this all day