Sunday, May 5, 2013

Work: Women & Work


We generally try to stay away from newer music here, but this one was too obvious for me to pass on. “Women & Work” by Lucero is another song which portrays work as a negative, something to fight your way through, and something that makes you need to drink. The song generally equates women with work, although the narrator concedes that women are sweeter, a sentiment that I certainly can agree with. Personally, I’ve had better luck with the woman in my life than in most of my jobs, although I’m hoping that my new work situation will put an end to the negativity.

Frankly, work can be great, it can be interesting and fulfilling, and in my opinion, it is poor management that is the cause of much of the unhappiness that so many people feel about their work. I often say that if more managers followed the training that I have received (and have given) as part of my volunteer work with the American Youth Soccer Organization about how to treat volunteers, more people would enjoy their jobs, work harder and be more productive. Treating your fellow employees with respect, support, and positive reinforcement and allowing your employees to take responsibility for their jobs, like we teach our volunteer leaders, can only make for a better work environment. But what do I know?

Lucero is another great band whose songs are about the lives of regular people (whatever that means). Their most recent album, also entitled Women & Work is a fine effort, and most of the songs focus on the twin subjects of the title. Which, to be fair, are probably the two most important issues to many men. Add sports, and you have the waterfront pretty well covered. Men are pretty simple creatures, right?

They are also a band that started off good, even great, but in my opinion have improved as their songwriting has broadened to include more of the soul influences of their hometown, Memphis. Starting with their previous album, the great 1372 Overton Avenue, they started using horns, and it is one of the few truisms of rock music that any song is better with a horn section. The video for “Women & Work,” embedded above, is a hoot—the band and friends at a lake party, drinking and destroying a van. I have a feeling that is not too far from a regular Lucero party, maybe minus the heavy construction equipment.

Regular and close readers of my work on this site have probably been waiting for me to finally post a Lucero song, so that I can close the loop on that concert that my son and I went to in November 2006 and stop mentioning it. No, the show wasn’t of Woodstock quality, or even Conor Oberst & Wilco, but it was a great night, and it made me realize how good Lucero is. I regret not seeing them since, but the timing hasn’t worked out (and I passed on an outdoor concert a couple of years ago, because it really, really looked like rain—which, of course, never came). Unfortunately, I think that they will always be a band that needs to constantly be on the road to make money from their loyal fanbase, but I suspect that they are never going to make it really big, because their lead singer, Ben Nichols, has an incredibly raspy voice, and I think that turns some people off (like my wife, which is one of her very few flaws).

And they are not afraid of trying different things to get their name out—in 2005, they released a documentary about their struggles and in 2009, Nichols participated in a “quasi-fictionalized” MTV series about the music scene in Memphis. Here’s an episode from the show, “$5 Cover,” in which Nichols enjoys the affection of a woman, and you also see him at work, with Lucero, playing “San Francisco,” a song from their album Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers, which was released just before my son and I saw them at the Bowery.

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