Welcome to the Unemployment Queue - Six Songs about Job Loss and Consequences

Friday, March 25, 2011
Once again, I join the ranks of the unemployed. I have had my share of jobs, but only three that I considered to be a career. The first was when I got my dream job at nineteen. I was hired by the now defunct Hercules Inc. in their materials development division. I always wanted to work in R&D at an aerospace company and it was a great five years. I didn't love that I worked for a company that was increasing the nuclear weapons stockpiles but the job was great fun.

After the layoffs of 1989, I spent two years doing crap jobs, then I landed at Chevron (more or less). I loved that job, too, if only for the daily intellectual stimulation of problem solving and and dreaming up new imaginative ways to insult my co-workers. I made great friends at Chevron, even if I was working for an evil oil company.

After my job moved to Houston without me in 2002, I spent two years consulting and kicking around the process control and IT industry. I landed this last job in 2004. I wasn't sure what I was going to do employed in the public sector, starting out as a webmaster and IT helper, moving up to marketing and graphic arts. Like all things, some days it was just a job, but most days it was a good place to work.

They laid me off last night. I wasn't surprised, I had figured it was in the cards since last November, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I will miss most of the people I worked with (if any of my former fellow employees are reading this, you are one that I will miss).

Life goes on and all that, so, with that in mind, this week's pick six is all about work and lack thereof.

6.  Downbound Train - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Born In The USA. You could very easily make this list completely from Bruce's catalog. Nobody has written more songs about the plight of the American working class then The Boss. Pick an album you are bound to find an ode to the working man and woman.

5. Working Man - Rush - Debut Album. I know this is pre royal triumvirate, but it is the song that made Rush famous. The version off of "All The Worlds A Stage", their first live album features the Professor rocking a great drum solo at the end of the song, which is just amazing. When Geddy screeches "I get up at seven, yeah, And I go to work at nine. I got no time for livin'", I think, damn, I've been there. Search for the 1980's tour version which is a fun sort reggae verion of the song.

4. Career Opportunities - The Clash - Debut Album. I don't wanna make a tea at the BBC nor do I really wanna be a cop. Leave it to the Clash to sum up the drudgery that is a "career" in under two minutes. Brilliant. If you have Sandinista one of the last songs on the experimental album a version of Sandinista that has vocal tracks by the very young Luke and Ben Gallagher (keyboardist Mickey Gallagher's sons)

3. Let Go - Frou Frou - Details. The lyric "drink up baby doll; Are you in or are you out?; Leave your things behind; 'Cause it's all going off without you; Excuse me too busy you're writing your tragedy" gets this song on the list, if just to remind that there are other things out there. Opportunities are out there, except of course, making tea at the BBC.

2. Maggie's Farm - Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home. Whether you subscribe to the idea that Dylan was giving a big F.U. to folk music or as a meta meta song protesting folk protest songs or even as just a very cool protest song, there is something empowering about the chords and the line "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more" repeated over and over again.

1. Oney - Johnny Cash - Any Old Wind That Blows. I don't really want to beat up my boss (assuming that I was actually strong enough to do such a thing) on the last day of work, but you got to love Johnny Cash singing "When I'm gone I'll be remembered; As the workin' man who put his point across; With a right hand full of knuckles; 'Cause today I show old Oney who's the boss." Dedicated to the working man, Johnny Cash reminds us no matter what, they can't take your pride away.


Johnny Cash - Oney (Live in Australia 1973)

Bob Dylan feat Mick Ronson - Maggie's Farm (Live)

Frou Frou - Let Go.

Career Opportunities (live in Amsterdam, 5/10/1981)

Rush - Working Man (Vault Edition)

Bruce Springsteen- Downbound Train (Live - Acoustic - From the Devils & Dust Tour)

11 comments :

  1. Well as moments go, I wish this one had waited another year. But since it couldn't, at least we weren't totally unprepared...and if we end up homeless, or at least out of our home, it will just be the two of us wandering into the sunset and not dragging small kids with us. We've wandered into some sunsets before, my love, I imagine we can weather this one, too.

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  2. I am grateful that I am only on the first day of my unemployment and not on my six hundred and ninety third as many of my fellow americans are.

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