Listen to this track by seminal Toronto punk rock scene starters and once nominated “best Toronto band ever”, The Diodes. It’s “Tired of Waking Up Tired” as taken from their 1979 record Released. It would appear on compilation records to follow, and became something of a signature track for the band, enduring even after they’d faded away.
Like many bands from this country of mine, the Diodes were brimming over with talent and potential, yet largely unknown to the mainstream in the rest of the world. This is not to say that they didn’t hit the road to put themselves across. They’d associated themselves with east coast punk rock, playing bills with the Ramones, the Runaways, the Dead Boys, and others. They’d also have something of a connection with UK scenes in the 1980s after transplanting the band there.
They’d formed at a time when punk was being recognized by major labels for its radio play potential, and were signed to Columbia records (in Canada, mind you). They’d move on to other labels, with the title of the album off of which this song comes possibly relating to a changeover to Epic.
But, like a lot of the best punk, this tune has miles of pop appeal rooted in rock n’ roll traditions of the previous decade.
They’d make this connection pretty overt by covering the Paul Simon-penned “Red Rubber Ball” of all things, covered by bubblegum band The Cyrkle. They’d also record Mann/Weill’s “Shape of Things to Come” taken from the 1968 film Wild In The Streets, and later to become something of a punk standard.
Maybe this ’60s pop sensibility is why they’d fit in so well with the CBGB crowd, many of those bands relating to ’60s pop hits as well as with the heavy wattage of modern punk rock. And more importantly, maybe their abilities in writing hooky pop songs in a punk milieu is why they helped to invigorate a domestic scene in Toronto, a scene that has endured there ever since.
Although they would gradually disintegrate as a regular touring and recording unit, the Diodes would reunite intermittently during the 2000s. A live document Time/Damage was released in 2010, recorded during a show in 1978 at Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo in the same year that Elvis Costello & The Attractions would record their own live record here. And of course, the Stones played the El Mo that year too. The Diodes were in good company, and so were Elvis and the Stones!
“Tired of Waking Up Tired” would be the Diodes’ most memorable hit, a song that captured the spirit of the times, yet with a sense of awareness that makes it unique as well, as close to confessional singer-songwriter fare in a punk band as anyone would get.