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by Dan Weiss

December 6, 2013

Songs That Need a Job

by Dan Weiss  |  December 6, 2013

The definitive rock 'n' roll plaint might be "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction": Frustration is woven through the music's bones. Since very little is more frustrating than not having money and not having work, the classic "Summertime Blues" (invented by Eddie Cochran, but flared out by Brian Setzer) and The Coasters' "Yakety Yak" appealed to kids much more, because they were living it. But let's hope nobody has to live through the mob-boss horrors of Fountains of Wayne's "Strapped for Cash," Bruce Springsteen's recession-depression morality play "Jack of All Trades," or Pearl Jam's locker-punching "Unemployable."

More direct and raging tracks include The Replacements' "God Damn Job" and Drive-By Truckers' "This F/*ckin Job," while the late, great Lou Reed moonlights as one of us on "Don't Talk to Me About Work" and Matchbox Twenty daydream of a hassle-free 9-5 on "Real World." Britney Spears' "Work Bitch" is sort of an exercise motivator and a lesson on how to obtain a Maserati; tongue-twisting Lyrics Born wrestles with mediocrity as a telemarketer on "Cold Call," and the Perceptionists offer job advice on "Career Finders." Belle & Sebastian treat a job scenario as just another day in their post-vaudevillian snapshot life, via a theft on "White Collar Boy" and a seduction on "Step Into My Office, Baby." Kurt Vile cracks up at the thought of being a "Puppet to the Man," Bob Dylan won't work on "Maggie's Farm" no more, and Bare Jr. asks the most important question of all: "Why Do I Need a Job?"

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