6 Negative Career Related Songs: Some Associated Careers Lessons


I thought it would be interesting to pick out 6 negative songs about work just to see what words of wisdom the world of popular music can bring us. The world of music tends not to be very positive about work, but seeming how careers advisers are pretty much employed to be I thought this might be an interesting (and fun counterpoint).

Hope you enjoy add your suggestions for other negative (and positive) songs in the comments.


Maggie’s Farm – Bob Dylan


Sample lyrics:

“I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

No, I aint gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

Well, I wake up in the morning

Fold my hands and pray for rain

I got a head full of ideas

That are drivin’ me insane

It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”


Career Lesson: Work is based around oppressive overlords who will turn your days into druggery and kill your creativity (coincidentally written 14 years before Margaret Thatcher came to power in Britain).


Career Opportunities – The Clash


Sample lyrics:

“They said I’d better take anything they’d got

Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?

Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?

Career opportunities the ones that never knocked

Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock

Career opportunity, the one that never knocked”


Career Lesson: Society has nothing to offer young people in the labour market, it just gives them worthless jobs to keep them out of jail.


Welcome to the Occupation – REM


Sample lyrics:

“Hang your collar up inside

Hang your dollar on me

Listen to the water still

Listen to the cause where you are

Fed and educated,

Primitive and wild

Welcome to the occupation”


Career Lesson: The company you work for is probably doing someone else over, it’s time to look around you and see the world we live in and pick a side.


Living on a prayer – Bon Jovi


Sample lyrics:

Tommy used to work on the docks

Union’s been on strike

He’s down on his luck…

It’s tough, so tough

Gina works the diner all day

Working for her man,

She brings home her pay

For love, for love”


Career Lesson: Work impacts negatively on the rest of your life, it’s hard, very hard, and not at all glamorous and the only thing you have to keep you going is some vague sentiments being blurted out with a guy non-ironic haircut who seems overly happy about your lot.


Slave to the wage – Placebo


Sample lyrics:

“Run away from all your boredom

Run away from all your whoredom and wave

Your worries, and cares, goodbye

All it takes is one decision

A lot of guts, a little vision to wave

Your worries, and cares goodbye

It’s a maze for rats to try”


Career Lesson: Work is slavish obedience and conformity to something that doesn’t make sense, it is our Matrix, get out now! (mention to Maggie not coincidental this time…)


Fitter Happier – Radiohead


Sample lyrics:

“Fitter Happier, more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much, regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week), getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries, at ease, eating well… now self-employed concerned (but powerless) an empowered and informed member of society (pragmatism not idealism), will not cry in public, less chance of illness.”



Career Lesson: Work is part of the good life and being a respectable, responsible citizen, it makes you happy and gives you meaning, about as meaningful as being a pig on antibiotics, whatever that means…


3 thoughts on “6 Negative Career Related Songs: Some Associated Careers Lessons

  1. A group of colleagues and I collected these last year:

    As far as I can tell, every single one of them is negative.

  2. Like it. Interesting but not surprising that perceptions of ‘careers’ (and by extension, careers advisers) very much come in the category of ‘the Man’ – trying to stifle creativity and individuality and force people into a life of conformity, grind and toil for the corporate machine etc. etc. and I think it’s these kinds of images / messages that are partly responsible for the negative connotations that young people and students have of the term ‘careers’ that we keep hearing so much about. It’s the view that a ‘career’ is having a job that you probably don’t want to do as opposed to living a life you love, and something that has been rejected by the people you idolise. The challenge is to reframe ‘career’ in young people’s minds so that they can see that it relates to Bob Dylan’s career in music just as much as to his crappy job on Maggie’s Farm…
    In a quiet moment last summer, I posted a blog on a similar theme looking at the career lessons from Oasis lyrics:

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