Short Story in a Song — “Vacation”

This Go-Go’s hit has been on my mind since I wrote a short story inspired by it for an upcoming anthology. Having lived through the band’s meteoric rise in the 80s, I always thought of “Vacation” in terms of the kitschy waterskiing music video that got tons of play on MTV. Listening to this track with a crime writer’s ear, however, changed my mind about the possible meaning of the lyrics.

The narrator sets the story up in the first verse—she’s love sick and still reeling from a recent break up. My perception of those lyrics hadn’t changed much over the years, but things take a darker turn in the second verse. This is where our protagonist admits that she should have run after first meeting her ex. It might simply be an over-dramatization of their failed relationship, but it could also hint at something much darker. If so, it would explain why she has to “get away.” Does she simply need time to heal a broken heart, or does she fear for her safety?

I’m probably over thinking it, but it was a fun exercise to reimagine this new wave classic. The Go-Go’s-themed anthology featuring my short story is called “Murder-A-Go-Go’s.” It’s being edited by Holly West and published by Down & Out Books in early 2019. In the meantime, give the song another listen and decide for yourself.

Read the full  lyrics for the Go-Go’s “Vacation” HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.


  1. There are a lot of Go-Go’s lyrics that take a dark turn, which is precisely why I wanted this anthology to be a thing. I’m so glad you’re a part of ti.

    • For sure. I’m planning to dig in on some of my favorites from their catalog. Thanks for including me in this project.

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