The year was 1986. Twenty year old me was very much attuned to the music of the day: from Heart to Huey Lewis and the News, Stevie Nicks to Little Stevie Windwood. I was down with Peter Gabriel, INXS, The Dire Straights, Van Halen, Human League, ZZ Top, Sade, Bon Jovi, Level 42, Madonna, Prince and yes–even Scritti Politti. I’ve always had a rather diverse taste in music. Still do.
Whenever someone would ask “Have you heard that new song by so-and-so?” Typically, I had. If it was on the radio, MTV or VH1, it was a pretty safe bet I’d heard it. (Remember when they actually played videos on MTV and VH1? Ah, good times…) Even if you didn’t know who the artist was or the name of the song, all I really needed was for you to sing a few bars, and I would know which song you were talking about and who sang it.
Which is why I was completely perplexed by my friend Kim one day. We were sitting in her apartment talking when she asked me if I’d heard this new song. “I know you’ve heard it”, she said. “They play it on the radio all the time.”
“How does it go?” I asked her.
“Get a job…”, she sings.
“That’s all I can remember, but I KNOW you know this song. Get a job…”
At this point, I’ve move past being perplexed. I’m simply laughing at her.
“Are you sure those are the words? Get a job?” I ask her.
“Yes! You’ve heard it! I know you have! Get a job…”
“Um…yeah. Have you been drinking? I don’t know the Get a Job song.”
The funny thing is, I did know the Get a Job song. And when the Get a Job song came on my car radio while driving home from her place, I had to pull over because I was laughing so hard.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Get a Job Song:
Also known in some circles as “The Way It Is”, it was the first hit for Bruce Hornsby and the Range.
I found it funny that Kim would remember that one line in the song, because it only appears in the first verse. Not in the chorus, not in the bridge. Just the last line of the first verse. Had she sung, “That’s just the way it is”, I would have known what she was talking about immediately, because duh, that’s the name of the song and the first line of the chorus. It’s part of the central message of the song:
That’s just the way it is
Some things’ll never change
That’s just the way it is
Ha, but don’t you believe them
Why would she remember that one line? Who knows? Maybe she had been drinking. Maybe she remembered it because in the context of the song, the line was pretty outrageous: “The man in a silk suit hurries by, as he catches the poor old lady’s eye, just for fun he says Get a job.” I won’t argue that the line is a powerful one. It helps set up the central message of the song, even though when I heard it out of context it made absolutely no sense at all.
Is there a point to this walk down memory lane? Actually, yes.
If you’re going to argue what the central message of a song is, it’s probably best you know the song yourself in the first place, instead of hearing it second hand and assuming your source of information is correct.
A final charge to Timothy from the Apostle Paul:
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:10-17
And that’s all I have to say about that.