What is the ultimate recession rock mixtape? It may be easier to answer that question by first explaining what it is not. This is not a mix of twenty songs meant to make you forget about hard times. If it was, then surely there would have been room for Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” Nor, is it a mix meant to inspire you to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and succeed against all odds. If it was that kind of mix, then I would have found a home for Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.” Instead, the ultimate recession rock mix tape is a gritty, honest look at what it’s like to be out of work during one of the worst times ever to be out of work curated by someone who’s currently out of work. We’ll lay blame. We’ll get angry. And when we’re done with boredom and desperation, there will be a little pick me up.
1. The White Stripes – The Big Three Killed My Baby And Jack White thought the Big 3 were a destructive force in 2001? Look where they are now.
2. The Clash – Career Opportunities Finding a job ain’t easy these days.
3. The Constantines – Credit River If the Canadians saw the great recession coming, why didn’t our bankers and financiers know how bad things would get? That’s right, our bankers and financiers were the ones who made this mess.
4. Tyvek – Frustration Rock Every good hero needs a theme song, right? Well, let’s say our hero is unemployed.
5. Wilco – The Jolly Banker The inspiration behind this mix. Amazing how accurately this old Woody Guthrie tune sums up our current situation.
6. Guided by Voices – I am a Scientist Uncle Bob, and his limitless discography, has a song for every occasion. In “I am a Scientist,” Bob is a scientist (of course), a journalist, and a pharmacist, amongst other things. Yet, the line which drives the recession home for our purposes is this one: “I am a lost soul/I shoot myself with Rock ‘N’ Roll.”
7. Billy Bragg – To Have and To Have Not Another reminder that economies are cyclical in nature. One Stephen William Bragg had to fight to get a job in 1983, and now, how many of us are in a similar position where you have to look the part to even get in the door for a job interview, an interview where your up against a giant stack of resumes?
8. Sebadoh – Homemade Not about being jobless, or broke, or depressed, but…sitting at home smoking a homemade bong isn’t exactly the stuff of a productive member of society. (Note: Fast forward to the five minute mark for “Homemade”)
9. Dropkick Murphys – 10 Years of Service Coincidentally, I lost my job just short of my 10th anniversary.
10. Gentleman Jesse and His Men – Rest of My Days Broke, bored, nothing better to do than sleep and drink. Sums up the current state of affairs pretty well.
11. Double Dagger – Luxury Condos for the Poor Written before the big housing burst, Double Dagger’s “Luxury Condos for the Poor,” examines the fallacy of urban improvement through development for the rich.
12. Future of the Left – The Hope that House Built A rally song for the dispossessed and the downtrodden, complete with a military beat. And when it comes to those battling the recession, it doesn’t get better than the opening line, “In the end everybody wins/As long as we remember there’s a reason for incredible wealth, incredible luck.”
13. Jay Reatard – Waiting for Something You’ve updated your resume, and you’ve answered the 20 minute online questionaire, what’s next? You sit and wait for something to happen. You get the interview, you think you did a damn good job presenting yourself, and what’s next? You sit and wait for something to happen.
14. The Replacements – Bastards of Young It wasn’t easy getting a job in 1985 America, either: “God, what a mess, on the ladder of success/Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung/Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled/It beats pickin’ cotton and waitin’ to be forgotten.”
15. Mountain Goats – This Year Our moment of hope.
Now, it’s your turn. Are you unemployed, underemployed, or just plain broke? What’s on your recession rock mix tape?