Song Name: Come Back Jonee

Artist: DEVO

Appears On: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!, DEV-O Live (Re-release only), E-Z Listening Disc, Greatest Hits, DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years, DEVO Live: 1980, Live at Max's Kansas City - November 15, 1977

Year: 1977

Year Released: 1978 (album/single versions)

Years Performed: [1] [2] 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982,  1989, 1996 (Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA show only), 2002 (Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco, CA show only), 2003, 2004 (Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR show only)[3], 2005, 2009 (Q/A shows only), 2012 (with Debbie Harry, The Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL, show only) [4] 2018 At Burger Boogaloo ("Booji Boy made them" do it, said Jerry)

Run Time: 3:46 (album version), 3:23 (single edit), 3:32 (music video)

Writing Credits: Gerald V. Casale/Mark Mothersbaugh

Sung By: Mark Mothersbaugh (lead), Gerald Casale, Bob Mothersbaugh, Bob Casale (backing vocals)

Shorter Version: Single Edit Version

Alternate Versions: E-Z Listening Version

Demo Versions: None known

Song Connections: DEVO Has Feelings Too (JFK reference)

Trivia / Info:[]

  • The song is about John F. Kennedy, using the metaphor of a dead rock musician
  • Some music critics believed this song to be a cover of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" because of the lyric "jonee be good, treat her like you should" and the guitar licks played by Bob1 [5]
  • The name "Jonee" is pronounced "Johnny" and spelled "Johnnie" in a collage printed in the "Pioneers Who Got Scalped" CD booklet. [6]
  • The single edit / video version omits the lyrics "now she calls his name, jonee you're to blame — come back jonee!" The album version lyrics are printed on the back of the single sleeve [7]
  • J.F.K.'s 1963 assassination is referenced in the lyrics to "Devo Has Feelings Too"
  • The Rope Song's lyrics also include a guitar
  • Several seconds of "Come Back Jonee" (live 1978-11-10) are on the Flimsy Wrap flexi-disc
  • Debbie Harry sang it while appearing on SNL
  • In a 2002 performance sponsored by Nissan, Mark changed the (by then) anachronistic lyric from "jumped in his Datsun" to "jumped in his Nissan". [8]

Onstage Behavior:[]

  • Very chaotic when performed live, and often features a large interaction with the audience

Lyrics: Transcription of album version lyrics. Unclear lyrics italicized.

well, come back jonee
gotta come back now, jonee
well, come back, jonee
jonee be good
treat her like you should
you made her cry
jonee, you're bad
you're gonna make her sad
jonee went to the pawnshop
bought himself a guitar
now he's gonna go far
you gotta love 'em and leave 'em
sometimes you deceive 'em
you made her cry
jonee, you're bad
you're gonna make her sad
eyes full of teardrops
jonee jumped in his Datsun
drove out on the expressway
went head-on into a semi
his guitar's all that's left now
he made her cry
now she calls his name
jonee you're to blame
come back jonee!
well come back jonee
you gotta come back now, jonee, jonee, jonee
well come back jonee
oh, jonee be good
treat her like you should
you made her cry
jonee you're bad
you're gonna make her sad
come back jonee!
well, come back jonee (jonee, jonee)
jonee, jonee, jonee
(jonee, jonee)
you gotta come back now, jonee (jonee, jonee)
well, jonee be good (jonee, jonee)
treat her like you should (jonee, jonee)
you made her cry (jonee jonee)
well, jonee you're bad (jonee jonee)
you're gonna make her sad (jonee jonee)
(jonee jonee)
(jonee jonee)
(jonee jonee)
(jonee jonee)
(jonee jonee)
(jonee jonee)


Short Film / Music Video[]

Appears on The Men Who Make the Music, The Complete Truth About De-Evolution

In a bowling alley, three men are dressed as cowboys. Two men cheer on one man who bowls.
A wooden rail fence runs along the side wall of the bowling alley. Painted on the wall are Saguaro cactuses. They reappear in the three-dimensional stage set DEVO plays on (presumably representing the Sonoran Desert).
DEVO play "Come Back Jonee" (single edit version) to an audience of about 200 that they corralled into a theater by using a D.I.Y. print advert.[9] Punk dancing ensues.
DEVO shimmy shake their shoulders throughout the show, and are alternately leaning towards and away from the audience.
As the music comes to a head, some fans display the herd mentality of cattle at a roundup and storm the stage.
One fan catches and displays a sign of DEVOtion.
The music fades and a bowling cowboy reappears. He repeatedly enthuses, "Wahoo!" on a robotic loop.

  • In 1978 Chuck Statler directed the bowling cowboys in Minneapolis. Jerry directed the L.A. filming at the Roxy Theatre, the same day Virgin debuted DEVO's album in England.
  • Jerry wrote that Mark designed the poster[10] for the Roxy filming and that it was a “three camera 16mm film shoot for a simulated live performance...”[11] This would be the "first use of staged live video concert with hired audience participation" in a music video / short film (and not a feature-length film).
  • Cowboys reoccur in DEVO's multimedia art.
  • Spazz Attack appears in the audience, though he is not featured as he was in Satisfaction or Peek-A-Boo!
    Spazz would also appear in Human Highway, filmed at a May 27 staged performance of "Come Back Jonee".
  • A fan reports what they know about who was in the audience August 28 and includes a tribute to their friend Bill aka "Pat Fear" of White Flag (the teen who caught the "DEVO" sign onstage).[12]
  • Another fan reports what they know about who was in the audience and says they sustained further injury to an already broken arm at this event.[13]

Live Video[]

"Come Back Jonee" performances appear on DEVO Live 1980 and Live In The Land Of The Rising Sun

Film Appearance[]

A "Come Back Jonee" staged performance appears in the film Human Highway (partial Mabuhay Gardens performance).
During DEVO's performance, Spazz Attack appears as a stage diver, before Neil Young takes the stage. DEVO was filmed wearing the black cowboy outfits, after a costume change from a "Shrivel Up" performance. Both songs were performed to playback for the feature-length film.[14]

For more, see:

The Complete Truth About De-Evolution
DEVO: The Brand / Devo: Unmasked
"Devo -- 'Come Back Jonee' (1978)". 2 or 3 lines (and so much more) Blog. Posted 2012, August 24. (From

Notes and References:[]

  1. DEVO Live Guide. Website keyword search for "come back jonee".

  2. "SEP 26 2012 DEVO Setlist at The Chicago Theatre, Chicago. IL, USA." "Tour: Whip It to Shreds."
    "Encore: ...Come Back Jonee (with Deborah Harry)”.

  3. “DEVO - Come Back Jonee - Nike Run Hit Wonder”. “August 1, 2004”. Uploaded to YouTube by trentj in 2010.

  4. “Devo with Blondie Singing ‘Come Back Jonee’. “ "September 26, 2012." Uploaded to YouTube by Brian Ronningen in 2012.

  5. Colin Gardner. "DEVO - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO!" Discola (Reviews). Synapse: International Electronic Music. Volume 3, Number 1. p17. (1979, January/February).

    “Come Back Jonee” extends the folklore of J.B. Goode by killing him off completely. Chugging guitars join a simple Farfisa organ, Chuck Berry riffs, and a grisly out-of-tune chorus yelling “Jonee! Jonee!” as we hear that: “Jonee jumped in his Datsun, Drove out on the Expressway, Went head-on into a semi-, His guitar’s all that’s left now...”

  6. Kilwag (editor). "Devo: Pioneers Who Got Scalped". Reviews. Skate and Annoy (2002). (From
    "COME BACK JOHNNIE" collage image of JFK head/damaged football. (From

  7. "Come Back Jonee”, image of Virgin single - back sleeve. Discogs.

  8. “Datsun in the American market". Wikipedia.
    [The Nissan Motor Company originally sold all their cars under the acquired "Datsun" brand name.]

  9. "Be In A Movie With DEVO At The Roxy Mon. Aug. 28 6:00PM Dress Devo!! Younger The Better!! *Made In USA"

  10. “08/28/78 - Roxy Theatre, Hollywood, CA”. Roxy poster scan (web link). DEVO Live Guide. (

  11. Gerald Casale. “Devo: a video history”. Optic Music. Issue #5. (1984, August).

    ”Satisfaction” was our last Akron product. Hollywood was different – a materialization of what we had satired.

    "Come Back Johnny" was our first response to our new home. After a quick call made by our manager, Elliot Roberts, we had use of the Roxy Theatre. Everyone in Los Angeles wants to be in pictures, so Mark designed a poster - “Wanna Be In A Movie? Dress Devo!!” with details of the time and place, etc. Over 700 people showed up outside the Roxy, but for purposes of the shoot, we could only select about 200 people. Inside we had arranged a three camera 16mm film shoot for a simulated live performance. We were attempting to manufacture a piece that projected the band’s high energy and capture the unique interaction with the crowd.

    The playback track was pumped through the Roxy’s PA system at maximum volume. The results were excellent. The crowd acted as if we were in concert, manically invading the stage and tearing at our clothes, grabbing anything they could. It was over after three takes. We edited this together with the cowboy bowlers segment that had been shot in Minneapolis (“talent” had been recruited from Employees-Overload, compliments of the city). Like “Jocko Homo,” and “Satisfaction,” “Come Back Johnny,” was a two-day production special.

  12. Howie Pyro. "The Illuminati of Rock and Roll: Remembering Pat Fear, A Real-Life Robert Anton Wilson Character". Dangerous Minds. (Posted 2017, September 13). (

  13. Patty Powers. "Bad Trip". Retro Hell! (part one). Ben Is Dead. Issue #25. pg19. (1995).

  14. Michael Snyder. “Neil Young Meets DEVO”. Berkeley Barb. Volume 27, Issue 24 (670). p12. (1978, June 16-22). Photo by Chester Simpson. (

    Via X / twitter post by @tywilc

External Links:[]

"Come Back Jonee" (master list) - Discogs
"Come Back Jonee" (tracks) - 45cat
"Come Back Jonee" (single) - MusicBrainz
"Come Back Jonee" (overview) - AllMusic
Mark Mothersbaugh | Gerry Casale | Bob Mothersbaugh
Bob Lewis | Bob Casale | Jim Mothersbaugh | Alan Myers
David Kendrick | Josh Freese
Jeff Friedl | Josh Hager
Record Labels / Publishers
Booji Boy Records | Warner Brothers | Enigma | Devo, Inc. 
Stiff | Virgin | Rykodisk | Infinite Zero | Restless | Discovery | Rhino 
MVD Audio | The Orchard | Superior Viaduct | Futurismo
Brian Eno | Ken Scott | Robert Margouleff | Roy Thomas Baker | DEVO 
The Teddybears | Greg Kurstin | Santi White | John King | John Hill | Mark Nishita 
Official Studio Albums
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978) | Duty Now For The Future (1979) | Freedom of Choice (1980) | New Traditionalists (1981) | oh, no! it's Devo (1982) | Shout (1984) | Total Devo (1988) | SmoothNoodleMaps (1990) | Something for Everybody   (2010)
Other Albums
Be Stiff EP (1978) | E-Z Listening Disc (1987) | Now It Can Be Told: DEVO at the Palace (1989) | Hardcore DEVO Vol. 1 74-77 (1990) | Hardcore DEVO Vol. 2 1974-1977 (1991) | DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years (1992) | DEV-O Live (1999) | Recombo DNA (2000) | Live In Central Park (2004) | DEVO Live 1980 (2005) | New Traditionalists: Live 1981 Seattle (2012) | Something ELSE for Everybody  (2013) | Miracle Witness Hour  (2014) | Live at Max's Kansas City - November 15, 1977  (2014) | Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig  (2014) | Hardcore DEVO Live!  (2015) | Art Devo 1973-1977  (2023)
In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution (1976) | The Men Who Make The Music (1981) | Human Highway (1982) | We're All DEVO (1984) | The Complete Truth About De-Evolution (1993) | DEVO Live (2004) | DEVO Live In The Land Of The Rising Sun (2004) | DEVO Live 1980 (2005) | Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig  (2014) | Hardcore DEVO Live!  (2015)
Related Articles
History | Bootlegs | Booji Boy | Devolution | Influence | The Wipeouters | Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers | Devo 2.0 | Akron, Ohio | Kent, Ohio | Music Videos | Cover Versions | Outfits