Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday PSTSS: "Millworker"

This Friday, another song about working and alienation, though this one is much more in the tradition of old-style country and folk ballads than the selection of Rundgren's last week. It comes off of my favorite James Taylor album, 1979's Flag, though the song itself was originally written by Taylor for the musical Working. I bought this album sometime around 1991 or 1992, when--between the Gulf War, my friendship with a man who became a Marxist mentor of sorts, and some personal crises of my own--my political and philosophical sympathies were in serious flux. I can remember the line "And never meet the man / Whose name is on the label" struck me with great force...and it still does, today.

Now my grandfather was a sailor
He blew in off the water
My father was a farmer
And I, his only daughter
Took up with a no good millworking man
From Massachusetts
Who dies from too much whiskey
And leaves me these three faces to feed

Millwork ain't easy
Millwork ain't hard
Millwork it ain't nothing
But an awful boring job
I'm waiting on a daydream
To take me through the morning
And put me in my coffee break
Where I can have a sandwich
And remember

Then it's me and my machine
For the rest of the morning
And the rest of the afternoon
And the rest of my life

Now my mind begins to wander
To the days back on the farm
I can see my father smiling at me
Swinging on his arm
I can hear my granddad's stories
Of the storms out on Lake Eerie
Where vessels and cargoes and fortunes
And sailors' lives were lost

Yeah but it's my life has been wasted
And I have been the fool
To let this manufacturer
Use my body for a tool
I'll ride home in the evening
Staring at my hands
Swearing by my sorrow that a young girl
Ought to stand a better chance

So may I work the mills
Just as long as I am able
And never meet the man
Whose name is on the label

Still it's me and my machine
For the rest of the morning
And the rest of the afternoon
For the rest of my life

1 comment:

loren said...

great song!! first encountered this years ago, but still listen to it regularly (my favourite line, for some reason, is "I can hear by granddad's stories, of the storms out on lake erie"). I've often thought one could do a good lecture in a political theory course on justice and inequality based on this song.