Over the past couple of days, there’s been a news story circulating about Chelsea Welch, a now former Applebee’s waitress who uploaded a photo of a credit card receipt with a rude comment left on it by a patron who’d allegedly “stiffed” one of Chelsea’s co-workers out of a tip. Apparently, Chelsea’s decision to upload that photo of the credit card slip mortified the patron, who then called up Applebee’s and demanded that everyone involved in the incident be fired. Applebee’s didn’t go that far, but they did fire Chelsea Welch for violating the customer’s privacy by sharing the offensive remark scribbled on the credit card slip.
I don’t want to get too much into that story, since it’s already gone viral and can be found all over the Internet. However, as someone who has waited tables and knows how hard the job is, it made me start thinking about hard work and the people who do it everyday. And then I was reminded of all the songs about people who work hard for the money. So today’s blog post is dedicated to Chelsea Welch, and all other the people out there who have tough jobs, especially those who have to deal with the public while maintaining an unshakeable smile and nerves of steel.
“Get a Job” by The Silhouettes and James Taylor
“Get a Job” is a song that was made popular in 1957 by The Silhouettes. Many years later, James Taylor covered it. I somehow ran across Taylor’s cover version on Napster back in 2000, and then he included it on his 2009 EP, Other Covers. It seems fitting to start this post with “Get a Job”, because you generally can’t have work related exasperation if you don’t have a job. And looking for a job can certainly be very exasperating. I should know. I gave up on being a working stiff years ago and just write blog posts now.
“9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
“9 to 5” is the title song for the 1980 film by the same name. More than that, it’s a song that really spells out how frustrating it can be to work at a low level, especially when you’re ambitious. Of course, nowadays, a lot of people are just happy to have a job. But back in 1980, Dolly Parton really captured the essence of being a low level employee, just trying to get by. It’s also a great song to listen to in the morning, when you’re trying to get going.
“She Works Hard For the Money” by Donna Summer
The late disco diva Donna Summer contributes “She Works Hard For the Money” to any list of songs for working stiffs. Just watch the video and you’ll see exactly why waiting tables or being a housekeeper is tough, especially when you’re a single parent who’s given up on your dreams. This is another great morning song. I remember it being a staple in aerobics classes too, back when I could still be bothered to do aerobics.
“Working for a Livin'” by Huey Lewis and the News
Huey Lewis and the News contribute the upbeat “Working for a Livin'”, yet another song that conveys the frustration of having to put up with a lot of crap while on the job and barely making enough money to cover all the bills. The chorus says it all, “I’m takin’ what they’re givin’ cuz I’m workin’ for a livin'”. I hear ya, Huey!
“Working In A Coal Mine” by Lee Dorsey… or Devo
Lee Dorsey made this song about working in a coal mine popular in 1966, but being a child of the 80s, I had to include Devo’s geekier version. I guess Lee Dorsey’s version is more about physical labor, while Devo reminds me more of what office workers have to deal with in a corporate setting… albeit with IBM typewriters and computer cards rather than the Internet equipped machines of today.
“Allentown” by Billy Joel
Billy Joel contributes this thoughtful hit about industrial factory work. My husband once worked in factories and described it as mind-numbingly tedious work. It drove him back into the military.
“Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck
Okay, so this is a country song, but how many of us have uttered this very line when we are at our wit’s end on the job? I know I have, especially when I waited tables.
“F*cked Up, F*cked Over, and Hungry” by Weird Wilbur
I found Weird Wilbur on YouTube a few years ago and he wrote this very cynical but funny ditty about trying to get in the music business. Yeah, it’s life as a struggling musician, and the work is still pretty hard if you don’t know the right people.
“Forty Hour Week (For a Livin’)” by Alabama
Country band Alabama had some appreciation for working people when they recorded “Forty Hour Week”, thanking working folks for what they do every day.
“Complete History of the Soviet Union, Through the Eyes of a Humble Worker” by Pig With the Face of a Boy
I suppose we can be grateful that at least we’re not living in the old Soviet Union. I used to live in a former Soviet country and this video pretty much captures what some people told me about the old regime… Has there been improvement now that the Soviet Union is no more? That remains to be seen.
“Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” by Bell and James
Since it’s Friday, I figure Bell & James and their hit “Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” is the perfect way to end my post on songs for working stiffs. If you’re not working this weekend, I hope you have a good time and manage to live it up tonight! You deserve a break today!