Throughout history music has not taken kindly to the idea of “work.”
- Sixteen Ton – Tennessee Ernie Ford. “You load 16 ton and whadda get, another day older and deeper in debt.”
- Chain Gang – Sam Cooke. “You hear them moanin’ their lives away…”
- Car Wash – Rose Royce. “You might not ever get rich but let me tell you, it’s better than digging a ditch.”
- A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles. ”It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog”
- Get a Job – The Silhouettes. “After breakfast, everyday, she throws the want ads right my way And never fails to say, Get a job…”
- Shiftwork – Kenny Chesney. “Well I work, shift work, Ten years man, I hated that work”
- Working 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton. “What a way to make a livin, Barely gettin by, Its all takin And no givin, They just use your mind And they never give you credit.”
- Take This Job and Shove It – Johnny Paycheck. “I can’t wait to see their faces when I get the nerve to say… Take this job and shove it.”
- The Dirty Jobs – The Who. “I’m getting put down, I’m getting pushed around, I’m being beaten every day.”
- Workin for a Living – Huey Lewis. “Hundred dollar car note, two hundred rent. I get a check on Friday, but it’s all ready spent.”
- Even in the Bible, Solomon says: “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.” (Ecc 2:17-19) He didn’t sing it but some song writer is likely to find a tune for it.
These are just a few of the thousands of songs that have parodied the misery of having to go to work every day. So is work really that bad or is it just more fun to be negative in a song? We know that if it’s country music somebody’s cheatin, hurtin, fired or about to lose a trailer.
I suspect that just like with news, misery and heartache sell more than positive happenings. But I also know how familiar lyrics can stick in our minds and then color our expectations. How many of you are right now humming “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog….”
Would you enjoy a song that was positive about work? Are we still in a minority in believing work can be fulfilling, purposeful and meaningful?
Any songwriters out there want to take a shot at some lyrics about how we love our work?
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