1. I Wanna Be Rich – Calloway
This is a song you listen to when you’re broke, but high-spirited. You hear it on the radio during a Memorial Day Weekend countdown; a countdown that promises “ALL OF THE HITS FROM YESTERDAY AND TODAY!” The long weekend makes returning to work seem manageable. Your job is a job; it’s not great but it’s something. You’ve been there for three years and you just know that the payoff will be big, when it happens. You look forward to calling your mother one day without having to reassure her that you’re fine. You want to adore your job so much that she can hear it in your voice, the same way she knows when you’re in love. You hear this song in your car and it prompts you to turn your AC off and lower the windows instead. “I relate with this song, but not in a depressing way. I feel optimistic that I’ll get a little love, peace, and happiness. Someday.” You drum your fingers on the steering wheel and think about the 90-pack of Top Ramen in your trunk – you’re going to be okay.
2. Living For The City – Stevie Wonder
Listen to this song while you’re working unpaid overtime. Find solace in the lyrics. When your efforts are no match for nepotism, remind yourself that it could be worse. Hold on to your boss’s empty promises like they’re lotto tickets. The raise you were promised never comes and you can’t afford to opt into the company’s health insurance, but at least you have a job. You’ll just have to work harder; surely, it’ll be recognized.
3. Can’t Get It Right Today – Joe Purdy
You’re beginning to feel helpless. It’d be endearing if it weren’t so harshly sincere. If only you were playing up your inadequacies in an effort to appear modest; but no, you genuinely feel as though you’re failing. Your friends are happy with where they are in life, and if they’re not, it seems like they’re at least paying their bills on time. The professional strides you attempt to make are dominoes – you spend immeasurable time setting them up only to watch them topple in rapid succession. There goes that promotion. Say bye-bye to that prospective raise. There’s no recognition, no joy, no hope.
4. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying – Belle and Sebastian
Play this song continuously at the lowest volume possible. It’s been a few months, and you don’t feel any more fulfilled. In fact, your condition is worsening. You wake up every morning with a dull ache in your heart, the one you feel when you know something is over. Your resolve is being gnawed away at. You are cheese. Your situation is a trap. Your job is a rodent – sharp-toothed and relentless and eating you alive.
5. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister
You’re at a bar pouring over your job-induced misery yet again when it hits you – you don’t need this shit. You’re tired of being taken advantage of. You’re sick of waking up and dragging yourself through the tedious minutiae required of you and getting nothing in return. In this moment, you remember what passion feels like. You make your mind up – you’re not willing to sit idly by while your hard work goes uncelebrated. You’re going to get yours.