Friday, November 20, 2015

Labour & Pop Culture: 48 Hours

This week’s installment of labour and popular culture focuses on The Clash’s “48 hours”—a song about the weekend. God, I hate The Clash—like the Ramones with a head cold. Anyhow…

The crux of this (awful, awful) song is the singers’ need to maximize their enjoyment of their weekend. Written in 1977, the workers in 48 hours were likely employed in soul-crushing Fordist jobs (e.g., factories, mills, shipyards) to which the weekend provided an escape (“monday is coming like a jail on wheels”).

Fast forward 40 years and workers are now likely working the weekend on less-well-paying service-sector jobs. Interestingly, songs about hedonism have kept pace with flexible work (now we party and get wasted on week-nights too!), a theme I’ll explore next week.

friday or saturday, what does that mean
short space of time needs a heavy scene
monday is coming like a jail on wheels

48 hours needs 48
48 hours needs 48
48 hours needs 48
48 thrills

so tell me an' i'll take the tube
you know a girl, yeah well she's bound to be rude
can't get nothing at the places i've been

i've combed this town from top to bottom
i try to get around but my legs are broken
every time i miss it 'cos i ain't got a ticket

48 hours needs 48 thrills
kicking for kicks

-- Bob Barnetson

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