Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mark Knopfler: Boom, Like That

I guess I have a special place in my heart for McDonald’s, but not because of Big Macs or Arctic Orange Shakes (both of which I happen to like). The reason is that my first real job was bagging fries and making shakes as a trainee at the McDonald’s in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

Following my training period, I moved to the newly constructed store in North Versailles where I had the distinction of being the location’s first hire. My time card was #2, as they didn’t want anyone to have #1. I worked here during the summer of 1973 and every college break for the next two years.

During the summer of 1974, I was temporarily transferred to the new McDonald’s in Versailles Boro, PA for a few weeks to train their crew of new employees. After I worked my last shift at North Versailles in May 1975, I never thought I would return to slinging burgers, but in 1977, I needed work and my previous tenure with Ronald et al. got me an edge at the McDonald’s in South Point, Ohio.

I worked here through August 1978 when I was required to quit when I entered grad school at Marshall University. Having been out of the area since 1981, I stopped by the South Point McDonald’s in January and was pleased to find that the family that built the franchise in the ‘70s still owned the store. Fast food work is hot, greasy, and doesn’t pay very well; but, I gained an appreciation of their business operations and the standards that corporate required of their franchisees.

Earlier this year, I heard today’s song on a TV show and immediately liked it. While Mark Knopfler’s chronicle of the genius behind the McDonald’s empire, Ray Kroc, was a hit in the UK at #34, it never charted in the US. Perfect for our Saturday Bubbling Under category.

“Boom, Like That” appeared on Knopfler’s 2004 album “Shangri-La.” The LP, however, had only a modicum of success in the US and charted at #66. Knopfler wrote “Boom, Like That” after reading Kroc’s autobiography and followed the story from start to success.

Ray Kroc didn’t become the leader of the fast food industry by playing nice . . . “or my name’s not Kroc; that’s Kroc with a ‘K’ like ‘crocodile,’ but not spelt that way. Now, it’s dog eat dog – rat eat rat – Kroc-style, ‘Boom, Like That.’”