Work All Week
The third single put out by the Mekons is “Work All Week”, an anti-materialist anthem disguised as a love song. Like “Where Were You”, it’s a song that reveals its true identity after repeated listens (you’ll have to get this song on your own as copyright does not allow me to post the original version, only the 2004 folk reggae version). Though the song can, at first, seem to be a typical love and marriage tune, upon closer examination it bears that signature post punk cynicism and satire. In most love songs the object of the speaker is to woo their potential partner, or to express their love/devotion/affection in some way, “Work All Week” shows that love and marriage seem to be impossible without killing yourself trying to make the money to buy the materials which signify happiness. In a love song the object of the speaker’s affection is a person, in “Work All Week” the object of the speaker’s affection is the objects needed to barter for love.
The songs starts with a ‘70s-sounding “oriental” riff straight out of Carl Douglas’s “Kung Fu Fighting”, then moves into a lilting chord progression that’s a bit out of time with the drums. An excellent bass run fills in the simple chord progression and gives a good background to the misleading lyrics. The refrain of “I work all week” is a constant reminder that most things that the speaker discusses are impossible without constant labour.
The first lyric is straight forward enough: “I work all week to buy a ring / I work all week / Extra hours to get real gold / I’ll buy you anything / You know I’ll buy you anything / I work all week / Not put off by signs saying sold.” Love is supplanted with a ring—there’s no mention of who he’s buying the ring for or what the ring symbolizes, the goal of working seems to be the acquisition of a ring made of real gold. The song is boastful when the speaker says “You know I’ll buy you anything”, as if these possessions are enough, the cost of love is the value of his person.