Being a freelance writer is a hard job. No, not hard like being a coal miner, or working on an assembly line, but hard like not always knowing where your next paycheck is coming from. You’re basically as good as your last story, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get another one.

I have a pretty regular gig writing for my local paper, the weekly Jamestown Press. The editor there throws me three or four stories a week, and that income serves primarily as grocery money. This week Hurricane Sandy paid a visit to our little island. Power was out, streets were flooded, and there was some question about whether the paper would even be published this week.

Now don’t get me wrong. My friends in New Jersey got hit far worse than we did, and compared to the actual human suffering going on there and elsewhere in the northeast my little problems don’t amount to a hill of beans. I know that — in theory. The thing is, if there wasn’t going to be a paper, I wasn’t going to get paid. And there goes the grocery money.

Well the power came back on last night in my neighborhood, which is also home to the paper’s office. Not only that, but I was assigned to write the hurricane story, which ended up being three stories. So I’ll make it through another week, and the editor has already promised me some stories for next week. Cue a sigh of relief.

Everyone has woken up with a song stuck in their head, and that happened to me today. With my financial situation very much on the edge it only stands to reason that the song I woke up with this morning was “Get A Job” by the Silhouettes. Sure it would be nice to have full-time employment and a regular paycheck, but I gave up that life some years ago, and I have no desire to go back to it. So while the song remains on constant rotation in my head, my heart is standing strong for independence.

I just finished writing my last story of the week for the paper, and I didn’t even need the extended deadline that I had this week as a result of the storm. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Then I realized that I still hadn’t done any planning for this week’s Soul Serenade column, something that’s usually done far earlier in the week. But I haven’t failed to deliver this column for over two years, and I’m not going to start now. That song in my head gave me a clue, the rest just fell into place, and here we are.

The Silhouettes were a Philly group who got together in 1956. Their only hit, “Get A Job,” began life as a b-side to “I Am Lonely.” It was originally released on their manager’s label, Junior Records, before being picked up for national distribution by Ember Records.

It was just the one hit, but it was a big one. “Get A Job” was #1 on the R&B and Pop charts in 1957, sold a million copies, and won the group a chance to perform in on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The Silhouettes never hit the top of the charts again, but they kept trying until they finally broke up in 1968. They got back together in the ’80s, and kept working until 1993.

The Silhouettes never had another chance. I’ll be looking for mine next week.

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About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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