People have been asking me to play blues. Problem is, my life is pretty happy right now. So I started to think about what would give me the blues. Turns out the working at Wal*Mart is near the top of my list. I debuted this song at a concert in Ann Arbor where I was performing with Berkeley, CA based singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman. After the performance a friend of mine, Dave, came up to me and chatted about it. Dave took an“early-out” from one of the big auto companies. An “early-out” is where they give you a bunch of money to voluntarily quit and never come back again. Dave said, “You know those WalMart greeter jobs are actually pretty hard to get!” Sign of our times, I guess.
A lot of people that used to have higher paying unionized manufacturing jobs now have minimum wage service sector jobs that you can’t even live on. Someone told me that when you apply to work at Wal*Mart, they also give you a form to fill out to collect food stamps. I don’t know whether that is true or not.
I wrote this song from the point of view of a displaced higher wage manufacturing sector worker who has to work for almost nothing at Wal*Mart because there is a lot of that happening here in Michigan right now, and I wanted to put a local Detroit connection into it.
I heard about this book called “The WalMart Effect” by Charles Fishman (google it if you are interested in learning more). It talks about the effect Wal*Mart has had on everything: what it does to a community when it comes in; focus on price above all else; effects on the supplier chain; to compete with them everyone has to produce the same stuff with the same features and price so selection is less; and on and on. It details how the company’s penny-pinching mindset and mania to reduce prices has driven suppliers into bankruptcy and sent factory jobs overseas. I didn’t actually read the book, just skimmed it and pulled of some of the salient points. I really don’t read much anymore. Like most of you, our instant-gratification, connected, cell phone, beeper, pager, twitter, facebook, cable, CNN, blogosphere society has mostly destroyed my attention span.
Oh yeah, the Walmart song. It is a condensation of the book into a 4 minute song, so you don’t have to read it, or feel guilty about not reading it.
Musically, it is a cross between a Bob Dylan folk blues rant and a crappy pop song by the rock band, Genesis.
Track Credits and Status
Words and music – Steve Deasy
Guitar – Steve
Electric Piano – Steve
Bass – TBD
Harmonica – Steve
Lead Vocal – Steve
Drums – Steve
Lead Guitar – TBD – waiting for Buddy Hall to send me something
TBD can either mean “To Be Done” or “To Be Determined”, take your pick.