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You know that sinking feeling you get when you hear your boss say: “Hey, can I see you in my office?” Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, then you’re one of the fortunate few who hasn’t been laid off, downsized, made redundant, or just lost a job.

I was laid off last June as part of the first wave of this recession, and at the time, I thought: “Well, I’ll find something in the next two or three months.”  Three months turned into four, four into seven, and even though I was doing all the things one is supposed to do when looking for work, I had exactly one interview for an editorial job, and then … nothing but polite letters of rejection.

Of course, as I was trying to change my microeconomic situation, the global macroeconomic terrain shifted and what little air was left inside the bubble leaked out in an SBD way, causing many jobs to wither up and die in its cloud of noxious fumes.  Every day, it seemed, employment news got worse and worse, and every day I tried to keep my chin up and not let the bad news affect my motivation level.  I gotta say, it was tough at times, and if it wasn’t for family and friends, it would have been pretty bleak.

If there’s an uplifting note to this story it’s that I did find gainful employment.  However, right as I was ready to start my new job (at the company that had laid me off seven months previous), my wife, and then my brother, lost their jobs. I heard from acquaintances, friends, and friends of friends about the snowballing effect this recession is having on the employment situation of many who thought their jobs were secure. I’m sure you’ve heard similar stories, and maybe you’re one of them.  It’s all so depressing and, in some ways, numbing. Pretty boo-hoo stuff, really.  But if you find yourself wallowing in self-pity, or just need an infusion of sympathy for those less fortunate than you, here’s a little mix I whipped up for times like these.

“Career Opportunities,” the Clash (download)

Love may mean never having to say you’re sorry, but don’t be sorry about having to take a shit job for less pay just to keep your head above water — even if the Clash highlight a few soul-killing jobs in this tune.  Just remember: it’s not forever.  Things will turn around and when you’re in a position to, you can tell your boss to take this job and shove it.

“Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” Styx (download)

Does Styx have a clause in their contract stipulating the word “paradise” be included on every album?  I’m just sayin’…  But as far as being a blue collar man goes, if Obama’s seed money for “green” jobs evolves into “The Next Big Thing,” then Styx may have to re-cut this song as “Green Collar Man” — which doesn’t pack the same punch.  Maybe Dennis De Young could make it a solo effort and do what he does best:   treacly ballads.

One-Trick Pony,” Paul Simon (download)

One of the things that most employment books tell you is to diversify your skillset. You not only have to be able to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, but also chew bubble gum and complete a marathon hopping on one foot.  It’s the “new economy,” baby.  I wonder what this means for all those devotees of Taylorism?

“Johnny 99,”  Bruce Springsteen (download)

It doesn’t take a PhD in political economy to tell you that there’s a high correlation between a rise in crime and an economic downturn. The “raw data” may demonstrate it, but it takes a guy like Springsteen to really bring it home.

“Unemployment,” J.J. Cale (download)

The shame one feels when losing a job is real. As adults, our identities are often framed by what we do for a living, not who we are as individuals.  So when we lose a job, the blues become all the more poignant.

“Alienation’s for the Rich,” They Might Be Giants (download)

I think we’ve all been at the point when you’ve gotta knock back a few after the bloodletting, or as the boys from TMBG say:  But I’m working to make it better/With a six of Miller High Life. Even if you’re been spared the guillotine, but have seen the blade come down on fellow co-workers, crackin’ more than a few cool ones is pretty much what the doctor ordered.

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