“Not My Job” and My Take on Political Songs
I was hiking on a trail in Westford MA, talking about global warming with my brother Robert. I said that people were pretty much just looking the other way and he replied “We’re all guilty of that”. I thought, yeah, “Not My Job”, and realized I had a song idea. The problem though – how to get it to work. So I started to think about the nature/rules of writing effective political songs. My first thought was “In general, you can’t just diatribe the subject to death”.
“Oil companies are evil, politicians are evil, and we’re all gonna die”… You have to try to make a statement without making the obvious statement. You have to bemoan the ills of the world without outright bemoaning the ills of the world. And it helps a lot if the song can be presented in a comical or sarcastic way. Though maybe the best protest song ever, Strange Fruit did the opposite and stated the obvious, however, it had the perfect metaphor with the perfect singer during the perfect time period making it timeless and rare. I believe it has a greater meaning as well.
I think a successful political song ends up being the combination of words, sound, mood, and time period when written and has to capture something unique or point out something unique about a subject in a non-obvious way. For me, I wanted point out that we (myself included) are all just sitting around lollygagging on global warming. Even now in 2016 when I am writing this I see everyone still just eating inertia stew.
I started a list of suspects: SUV drivers, liberals, conservatives, developers, myself, Al Gore, etc. and began working. The song actually took me a few years to finish, getting back to it from time to time. It is best for songs to be timeless, so mentioning a current event or a politician can shorten the relevancy of a song, but I thought it was safe bringing in Al Gore as he will always be associated with the global warming effort.
When the song was done, I was not sure it was actually going to work in the studio. The potential to sound goofy or corny seemed rather high; especially with all those languages at the end. “But my biggest sin has been my self doubt” (If I Close my Eyes). However, working with Producer Zac Cataldo made it a breeze. He pointed out what worked and what did not and ‘we’ managed to pull it off. I don’t know if anyone else could have provided the support/insight needed to get the song to the current version.
I think it is one of my best songs and hope you like it. It actually got played on radio show Greg and the Morning Buzz Rock 101 in Manchester NH.
Thanks for reading this! Here it is – Not My Job Free Download
If you like this, please consider checking out the rest of the Not My Job CD as well.