As these ten best songs about hating your job illustrate, being unhappy in our work is sort of a national pastime for Americans. Take heart knowing that you are not alone in your misery, because these musicians can relate.
- “Take This Job And Shove It” David Allen Coe. Out of all the songs out there about hating your job, this is one is the gold standard. It’s been covered by Johnny Paycheck and The Dead Kennedys, and perhaps most recognizably for the modern audience it was used as a basis for a rap song on the “Office Space” soundtrack.
- “Shove This Jay-oh-bee” Canibus. And this is that rap song. Canibus took the chorus of “Take This Job And Shove It” and added in his own rap lyrics on top of it, making it a whole new song (as evidenced by the change in title). Plus it has Biz Markie in it, and nobody beats the Biz.
- “Bad Days” The Flaming Lips. Have you ever fantasized about shooting your boss in the face? Wayne Coyne can sympathize, but even he will tell you that it’s best left to the realm of fantasy. “In your dreams,” he says, “show no mercy.” In real life, maybe you should just take a couple days off to cool down a bit. Or, as Coyne sings, “You have to sleep late when you can, and all your bad days will end.”
- “At My Job” Dead Kennedys. The Dead Kennedys didn’t just cover “Take This Job And Shove It,” they also branched out into writing their own song about on-the-job ennui. “I’m working at my job, I’m so happy, more boring by the day, but they pay me.” If you can’t relate to that, you probably have a pretty sizeable trust fund set up for you.
- “This Job Is Killing Me” The Walkmen. Sometimes a job is just the scapegoat, like in this song by The Walkmen. “Honey, this job is killing me,” Hamilton Leithauser sings, but on closer listening it sounds like his narrator’s unhappiness goes much deeper than that. “Now he’s at home and he’s counting his cash, he’s popping pills and he’s calling his ex.” That is not a person who is happy with his life.
- “Summer Job” Art Brut. For many people, the summer job is the first painful introduction to the world of the working class. This song is about just such a job. “Every night and all weekend, can’t remember the last time I saw my friends.” Yeah, being responsible sucks.
- “Dead End Job” The Police. Many musicians have said that they joined a band so they wouldn’t have to get a real job. Sting sounds like he might be one of those musicians. “I don’t want no dead end job,” he sings, “I don’t wanna be no number.” Hopefully the whole music thing will work out for him and he can avoid that dead end job.
- “The Job That Ate My Brain” The Ramones. Leave it to the band who wrote the theme song to “Pet Cemetery” to make a job sound like a low-budget horror movie. Maybe if they actually got a job working on a low-budget horror movie they would be more into their work.
- “This F—ing Job” The Drive-By Truckers. Sometimes a man can work and work and feel like it’s not getting him anywhere. This alt-country tune by The Drive-By Truckers is about that feeling of hopelessness. “It ain’t getting’ me further than the dump I live in, it ain’t getting’ me further than the next paycheck.” Amen, brother.
- “Minimum Wage” They Might Be Giants. With nothing but the words in the title, a “Hee-yah!” and the sound of a whip cracking, TMBG sum up nicely what it’s like to work for the lowest wage allowed by law. If you’re making that kind of money, the chances are pretty good that you hate your job.
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