Friday, November 22, 2013

Song Spotlight: "Out of Work" by Gary U.S. Bonds


Hey, Mr. President, I know you got your plans
You're doing all you can now to aid the little man
We got to do our best to whip that inflation down
Maybe you got a job for me just driving you around

- “Out of Work” performed by Gary U.S. Bonds

In spite of the very Springsteen-esque nature of the above lyrics, I only recently learned that Springsteen actually wrote the song “Out of Work,” a catchy toe-tapper and hit single off of Gary U.S. Bonds’ 1982 album On the Line. In fact, Springsteen is credited with writing seven of the 11 tracks on the album.

The lyrics in “Out of Work” feel timeless, and can really be attributed to any era, but the sound is distinctly ‘80s. According to a WCBS article, “Out of Work” filled the dance floors well into the 1990s. I have no way of saying if this is true, but I hope so. When I hear it now, I keep picturing a montage from a weak ‘80s comedy with Dana Carvey applying for odd jobs and bumbling his way through interviews. Sadly, no such movie exists, but for a light comedy with Dana Carvey, I do recommend Opportunity Knocks.

I couldn’t find any versions of Bruce performing the song, and I’m curious to know if he’s ever played it with Bonds publicly. When Bonds does join Bruce on stage as a guest, their usual collaborations are “Quarter to Three,” “Jole Blon,” and “This Little Girl.”

Below is the studio recording followed by a live version of Bonds performing in Queens in 2008 (complete with a jab at President Bush).