In the wake of last week's announcement that the number of unemployed Americans filing for unemployment insurance has hit its highest level in nine months, Rocks Off figured it was time for a "fuck insolvency" mixtape. This isn't hyperbole on our part; as we type this, we're well into our second month of unemployment after quitting our job in central Pennsylvania and moving down to Round Rock with our family.
When not applying and re-applying for positions we're not-quite-qualified-enough for, rattling off Hail Marys or watching our bank account balance dwindle down to nothing, Rocks Off spends a lot of time playing with the dials on our cerebral jukebox. These are some of the songs we listen to as a reminder that it isn't "Unemployment, population you," but rather "Unemployment, population legion."
The Statler Brothers, "Flowers on the Wall"
This rambling country chestnut - which saw initial release in 1965 and was featured prominently in 1994's Pulp Fiction - is sort of the ultimate in sloth-pop, a slacker's anthem so bubbly and good-natured that it's easy to breeze past the fact that its narrator wastes his days smoking cigarettes, watching Captain Kangaroo, and dealing himself hands of solitaire.
"Flowers" carries an air of forced joviality, which is exactly what the laid-off and otherwise unemployed need to fake in order to wake up day after shiftless day to relentlessly email resumes to harried recruiters, persevere in the face of indifference, and refrain from throwing ourselves into traffic.
Alice In Chains, "Down In A Hole"
Speaking of lives wasted, Layne Staley is still dead, and classic grunge dirge "Down In A Hole" is more than likely about being smacked out of one's gourd. But it's also about depression, an emotion with which rebuffed job seekers are all too familiar. "Down in a hole/ Losing my soul/ I want to fly," Staley sings, and who among us with a honed skill set and no means to profit from it can't relate at least a little?
Canibus feat. Biz Markie, "Shove This J-O-B"
It's probably natural to assume that if someone can't find a job, there must be a flaw in that person's approach: A weak cover letter, reticent references, a less than flattering resume, whatever. But listen, gainfully employed relatives: We're trying, really we are. We are working the inboxes, the phones, the job boards. We are trying to make connections.
We don't enjoy spending hours every day glued to computer screens in a failed effort to earn less than we used to earn. It's like a full-time job nobody pays you to do, and when the day's over, you can't put it out of mind for a few hours, because you haven't physically left - a job you'd tell someone to shove, if there were someone else around.
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The Moldy Peaches, "Nothing Came Out"
In August 2001, Rocks Off walked out on our job as a newspaper reporter, and subsequently spent three brutal months hunting for work. The Moldy Peaches' self-titled debut was in heavy personal rotation during this period, and we found ourselves gravitating to "Nothing Came Out," a Kimya Dawson showcase where the singer morosely explores introversion.
"Without 40 ounces of social skills, I'm just a ass in the crack of humanity," she moped. Dawson and co-Peach Adam Green were likely aiming for anti-folk levity, but instead perfectly crystallized a generational type with no future, no self-esteem, and even less hope.