Unless you have really wealthy parents or won the lottery as a teenager, you’ve probably had a crappy job. But you’re not alone: even some of your favorite artists have held down crappy jobs — Think Kurt Cobain working as a janitor or Johnny Cash working as a salesman. So kick back, enjoy your weekend and stew with these songs about your own crappy job.
10 – “Workhorse” – Mastodon
Slaved into brittle and worked for days
Only thing that paves your stay
Look behind you see what you’ve made
Like a workhorse stands for miles
“This is for all you sorry saps that hate your fucking job,” Mastodon bassist Troy Sanders said before launching into “Workhorse” at an Atlanta, Ga. gig. It’s a heavy, grinding anthem about doing something that a lot of people really hate.
9 – “Soul Suckin’ Jerk” – Beck
I ain’t gonna work for no soul sucking jerk
I’m gonna take it all back
And I ain’t saying jack
I ain’t gonna work for no soul sucking jerk
Over a trashy drum beat, Beck recaps an experience that everyone’s had: that boss. He (or she) will go out of his way to humiliate you or make your life harder. And look no further than Beck to console you about the situation — he’s worked for a soul suckin’ jerk that forces him to wash dishes in a ditch while pointing his big fat fingers in Beck’s face.
8 – “Bad Days” – The Flaming Lips
And you hate your boss at your job
Well in your dreams you can blow his head off
In your dreams show no mercy
Everyone has their bad days, but Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne takes it a little far with his fantasies in “Bad Days.” The song allows frustrated workers to escape into a world of luxury cars and zero consequences for hating your boss and wanting to “blow his head off.”
7 – “Dorothy At Forty” – Cursive
Dorothy, it seems you’ll never understand
This here land is everything we have
Every sweat-stained collar, every dollar,
every bent and bloodied spur
We’re not the kids that we once were
We can’t be the adults we want to be
Can you imagine Dorothy putting on a smock and hairnet as the credits roll in The Wizard of Oz? “Dorothy at Forty” details the life of a middle-aged woman that once had big dreams and had to throw them away for a normal small-town life with plenty of references to the magical world of Oz.
6 – “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” – The Smiths
Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I’ve held
It pays my way, and it corrodes my soul
I want to leave, you will not miss me
I want to go down in musical history
For musicians and artists everywhere, the struggle between succeeding financially and artistically is a constant battle. And leave it up to Morrissey of the Smiths to speak the gospel of hating a boring job. “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” tells the story of a person that dreams of (and probably deserves) some recognition, only to find that their boss has the same dreams. It’s a sympathetic and honest look at how things probably are in the real world.
5 – “Custom Concern” – Modest Mouse
I get up just about noon,
my head sends a message for me
to reach for my shoes and then walk.
Gotta go to work, gotta go to work, gotta have a job
On This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Talk About, Modest Mouse frontman Issac Brock perfectly describes being stuck in a monotonous job. Brock is waking up way past a decent hour (the guy was known to party a bit) before heading over autonomously to a job that he didn’t really care much for.
4 – “”Maggie’s Farm” – Bob Dylan
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
No, I aint gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
It certainly wasn’t the first song about hating a job, but it was one of the most poignant. It’s the story of a person that’s completely fed up with acts that are inexcusable — harsh fines and cigars to the face — but maybe the best part of the song is the narrator’s refusal to be locked into the situation: “They say sing while you slave and I just get bored. I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.” Also, the Rage Against the Machine version is worth a listen if you’re really mad.
3 – “I’ve Had It” – Black Flag
I can’t go to work
The boss is a jerk
I ain’t got time for this school
The fuckers are fools
I’m going to explode
I’ve had it
It’s the music version of the moment where you just can’t do it anymore: “I’ve had it” is the soundtrack to a pissed-off guy no-call-no-showing to a dead-end customer-service job.
2 – “Take This Job and Shove It” – David Allan Coe
Well, I been working in this factory for now on fifteen years
All this time, I watched my woman drownin’ in a pool of tears
And I’ve seen a lot of good folks die who had a lot of bills to pay
I’d give the shirt right off of my back if I had the guts to say…
It doesn’t get much more iconic than David Allan Coe’s tribute to quitting a piece-of-crap factory job. “Take this job and shove it, I ain’t workin’ here no more,” the songwriter sings over a bopping country beat. And it’s not only a catchy tune: it’s liberating and has probably inspired more hasty decisions than some people would like to admit.
1 – “This Fucking Job” – Drive-By Truckers
Workin’ this job, there’s nothin’ left but to hate it
I won’t get as far as my daddy made it
It aint gettin’ me farther for all my strivin’
In the dead-end I live or the piece of shit I’m drivin’
Drive-By Truckers have always had a way with brutally honest songwriting, and for “This Fucking Job” off 2010‘s The Big To-Do, the title says it all. Drive-By Truckers’ tune dedicated to the monotony of a dead-end job rings true in the whole “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” nature of it all, showcasing a person that is torn between working a bummer of a job and paying the bills.