Like heartbreak and booty, employment is a popular focus for songwriters. From a collection of industrious mine workers who launched their every workday with a seven-person chorus of “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go!” through Loverboy’s declaration of “goin’ off the deep end” in anticipation of Friday’s appearance, to Rihanna’s cryptic “You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work,” we’ve long delighted in singing about our professional engagements.
There are Easter eggs in some of these occupationally preoccupied songsheets, especially the ones from workdays gone by. Among them, consider:
A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles, 1964. This poppy favourite, beloved since its release, could draw sparks today for its whiffs of patriarchal manipulation. “You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things. And it’s worth it just to hear you say you’re going to give me everything.” Everything, Mr. Weinstein?
Taking Care of Business, Bachman Turner Overdrive, 1974. In this working-man standard, Randy Bachman anticipated the Kardashian Principle: “I love to work at nothing all day.”
9 to 5, Dolly Parton, 1981. The lyrics to this song, which got the job done alongside a same-name movie, coulda been put to use in Trump-era copy: “It’s a rich man’s game, no matter what they call it. And you spend your life putting money in his wallet.”
Whatever a working stiff’s labour-based ruminations, one thing is clear (take it, Rihanna): “There’s something ’bout that work, work, work, work, work, work.”
What a way to make a living.