Thursday, 6 September 2007

Finest work song?

Heard a new cover version of Abba’s “the day before your came “By the Real Tuesday Weld on a Word magazine cd.Go here to have a listen. It’s very good if very similar to Blancmanges 1983 version. It puts further pay (if you can do that) to the idea that the mighty Swedes where only a jolly party group. The idea of carefully laying out how ordinary a day at work can be and how it passes unnoticed would if it came from Thom Yorke or Mozza be heralded as bold and humanistic, coming from Benny and Bjorn it went unnoticed. Even though “The day before you came” follows in an age old introspective Nordic tradition.

The other reason the song stands out is that unlike most pop and especially rock it shows compassion for and knowledge of the travails of everyday office life. Pop /folk music has loads of songs about farmers, cattle wranglers, fisher men, soldiers, coal miners (and their daughters), factory workers and shop girls. Pop music has always given hope to blue collar workers. But in general the attitude of (usually white collar) rock stars is to sneer at their “trapped” former school mates.

If you looked to British rock hierarchy to see reflections on the life most of their audience lead you will look in vain, with everyone from Blur to Ray Davis, Paul Weller and the Clash being less than complimentary about 40% of the population. This would be more acceptable if most of the writers had ever done a day’s work in their life, with most of them wafting from school (then Art College) to the Wembley Arena without a p45 at any point in between. I know that rock has as one of its basic tenets “sticking it to the man” but it rarely shows compassion to any of the cogs in the machine it’s raging against. The Clash didn’t want to “open and letter bombs for you” but t’old Joe and the boys were quite happy take a few quid out of the rest of the mail room’s pay packet for a load of toss like Sandinista. I also know that 99 pence in the d tax levels in the 60’s might have pissed off newly rich rock stars (George Harrison) but ST Bono has lead the way to tax havens, so maybe they could write a song about the skills of the accountants and even god forbid lawyers.

It might however be along time before Van Morrison in particular sings the praises of anyone back in the office but maybe if he’d been nicer to the “suits” they’d have gone the extra mile for him?

The only good examples of office work songs I can think of are from the Blessed Dolly (9 to 5) and surprisingly Cat Stevens with “Mathew and sons”. Here’s the Delgado’s peel session cover of it from their excellent compilation.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?
Thanks to everyone for your comments, hello to Bright Ambassdor.Sorry I haven't got back early I went on holiday by mistake and now have flu. As for your suggestion I think they prove rather than disprove my point, are we sure the girl in manic monday works in office? Also it's a poor state affairs if you rely on Sheena Easton for social comment I'll check out the others except tosay I don't think Mr Mc Cartney's views on sexual politics at work would pass muster today.


Ex-Coventry Blogger said...

Interesting reflections - as ever - and it's always good to be reminded that there was good music in the 70's and 80's, but what I really want to know is where does this cat-photo-with-misspelt-caption thing come from? And is anyone doing anything about it before it destroys western culture as we know it?
Hope you're having a groovy Saturday evening...

Clair said...

There's quite a lot about offices in Del Amitri's Nothing Ever Happens. Manic Monday by The Bangles, and 9 To 5 by Sheena Easton? Temporary Secretary and Another Day by Wings? Step Into My Office, Baby by Belle and Sebastian? We Are The Only Thing More Powerful Than The Boss by Hue and Cry?

Bright Ambassador said...

Martha and the Muffins Echo Beach:
"From 9 to 5 I have to spend my time at work/My job is very boring I'm an office clerk"
(North American pronounciation of 'clerk' to rhyme with, er, 'berk'.)