Saturday Jams: A Work-weary Weekend Edition

Back in the Golden Age of Rob’s Surf Report, Rob was bitten; not by a radioactive lobster but by an idea to post a weekly article about a few songs that he really likes. There are so many possibilities that the series could go on forever, and so . . . Saturday Jams was born.


I just spent about three hours going back over twenty-three Saturday Jams posts, replacing bad video links, listing all the songs previously used so I can avoid covering old ground. All this after a two-week stretch where I’ve considered calling sick every single day I was required to work, because I need a break. And the fact is, right now we need to work more than ever. Gas is going up. Groceries are going up. Things cost more and we’re not making any extra money to account for that.

So I keep on plugging along and hoping that the winter will soon relinquish its chilly grip on us, because I do have time off scheduled in a couple weeks — a twelve-day stretch that’ll allow me to recharge a bit. For now, I’m getting all energized by throwing down a Saturday Jams playlist dedicated to those who feel like they’re going to be working until they die.

So maybe retirement’s a kind of resurrection? I’ll let you know when I’m back to the page full time. 🙂

Our first selection today is a red-hot treasure for me; one of my favorite bands of the 80’s is that “trumpet-playing band”, Huey Lewis and the News. The working-man’s band, they were, and 1982’s Picture This was the second album they released on Chrysalis Records before the label began having financial issues. By the time the band had recorded their third album Sports, Chrysalis was struggling hard. Rather than releasing the tapes right away and risk watching it die with the label, the band hit the road and worked six nights a week playing small venues and staying in cheap motels until the label got its issues figured out. Released in September of 1983, Sports became the band’s most successful album.

If anyone knows what it’s like Workin’ for a Livin’, it’s a rock and roll band! The version in this video (the “red-hot treasure” I was referring to) is a duet for Garth Brooks’ 2007 album The Ultimate Hits, and says a lot about the spot that Country Music chose to inhabit at the time Brooks took the scene — when rock went in a different direction, the Country scene decided to go full steam ahead, leather tassels and all. And yes, Huey has still got it.

Of course, I do have the original version as well on this week’s YouTube playlist.

Speaking of Garth Brooks . . . Allen Reynolds produced many of Brooks’ albums, but at one time Reynolds was a songwriter. He wrote our next song for a vocal quartet out of Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania; this became their most popular song, hitting #4 on the Billboard chart in 1965. Plenty of us can still dig the idea behind this song: some days, it feels like you don’t even come to life until the working day is done.

Our next selection is the last song that Rush played live on August 1, 2015. Coincidentally, it was also the song that got them their start: you see, in 1974 one savvy DJ at a Cleveland radio station chose this song, in part, because at just over seven minutes it was long enough to give a DJ a bathroom or cigarette break; however, upon playing the song the station’s phones started lighting up with listeners asking when the new Led Zeppelin album was coming out. The song started picking up momentum and soon caught the attention of Mercury Records, who signed Rush and helped make them one of North America’s most popular bands. Here’s Working Man, a song about one who just can’t find the time to make their dreams happen:

Our last pick for this week takes a different direction; written by Mark Knopfler while sitting at a department store kitchen display, it takes the point of view of delivery men at that department store who were watching MTV and complaining loudly about their jobs. Many of their comments came verbatim into the song, including some that are considered to be homophobic. This has earned Knopfler criticism over the years for simply writing in character. What’s more germane to our theme today, though: this song depicts hard working men seeing others through a certain lens and saying that what those others do isn’t hard work, but anyone in the music business can tell us that what they do is hard work too — don’t knock it if you haven’t been there, am I right?

This is Money For Nothing by Dire Straits: one of the first music videos to utilize computer animation. Directed by Steve Barron — who also directed the sketch-animation / live action amalgamation Take On Me by a-ha — it won Best Video in the 1986 MTV Music Video Awards.

So that’s it for today. I suppose I’ll get through today and tomorrow and start another long week on Monday. I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, I can already tell you that because I wanted to bottle a 5-gallon batch of my Agent Orange mead and ended up having to order bottles because they’re not as easy to come by as I originally thought. Those bottles won’t come until Monday, so I guess that’ll be a Wednesday project.

Speaking of which, I previously mentioned that I thought I had my first stalled fermentation, but it turns out my cherry pie mead had finished in just five or six days (SG of 1.004 for you brew nerds,) versus the 3-4 weeks that it normally takes — I’m guessing because I used malt? I can thank science for helping me figure that out, and turning my smile rightside up again!

If you want more music and music videos, then check out this companion playlist with these songs and others I have added for your enjoyment. While you’re there, subscribe to my YouTube channel too, at the very least I’m curating some nice playlists.

One more work song, real quick:

“Hey, this isn’t where I parked my car!”

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