Maybe You Collect

‘Keep Your Day Job’ is a Grateful Dead song with lyrics written by Robert Hunter and music by Jerry Garcia.  It was recorded on Dick’s Picks, vol. 6, which was a 3 CD set from a concert in Civic Center, Hartford, CT on October 14, 1983 and the CD was released in October, 1996.  Oddly, this song was dropped from the Grateful Dead repertoire at the request of fans who probably didn’t want to be told that they should have to go to work, they didn’t like the meaning, or what they perceived as the meaning of this song.  A couple of fans reacted and the Grateful Dead dropped this from their repertoire after only playing it for a few years and I hate when the whiners win.  Hunter said that the idea behind this song was to, “Keep your day job, support yourself, whether you like that gig or not.”

‘Keep Your Day Job’ was performed just over 50 times by the Grateful Dead between 1982 and 1986 and that was all she wrote for this song.  Keep your day job is a common theme among musicians, as when they first start out, they don’t know if they will make the big time, so they have to keep on doing their day job while they are lining up a long shot opportunity for success.  That just makes good sense, as most musician cannot support themselves and their families until they hit the big time.  Keep your day job is a phrase said to people as advice, telling them not to pursue something full time unless they are sure that they are good at it.  This advice says that they should continue doing what they are good at, rather than trying something new which they would probably fail at.

This could also be used as an insult to tell somebody that they are horrible at whatever they are trying to do.  I think that the Dead should have kept playing this song as it was a nice up-tempo song with a lot of catchy lyrics.  On Mike’s Grateful Dead blog, he said that this song sounds like a cross between ‘U.S. Blues’ and ‘Might As Well’, with a dash of Billy Joel’s ‘Only the Good Die Young’ thrown in it.  I guess it is like what Ricky Nelsen says in ‘Garden Party’, “you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself”.  When I was young and the Dead were coming to the East Coast, I took time off from my work to go see them, but a lot of my friends quit their jobs to see the shows, having no interest in maintaining their employment and I guess they thought that their day job was to follow the Dead.  When the tour was over, I went back to my job, but my friends were all fired.

Maybe you collect or maybe you pay
Still got to work that eight hour day
Whether you like that job or not
You’d better keep it on ice
While you’re lining up your long shot

Which is to say, hey hey

Keep your day job, don’t give it away
Keep your day job, whatever they say
Keep your day job till your night job pays

Ring that bell for whatever it’s worth
Sunday comes, forget about work
By now you know that the face on your dollar
Got a thumb on its nose and a hand on your collar

Which is to say, hey hey

Keep your day job, don’t give it away
Keep your day job, whatever they say
Keep your day job till your night job pays

Sunday comes, forget about work
Ring that bell for whatever it’s worth
If you ask me like I know you won’t
I’ll tel you what to do, what I know that you won’t

Which is to say, hey hey

Keep your day job, don’t give it away
Keep your day job, whatever they say
Keep your day job till your night job pays

Keep your day job, don’t give it away
Keep your day job, whatever they say
Keep your day job till your night job pays

Keep your day job, don’t give it away
Keep your day job, whatever they say
Keep your day job till your night job pays

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Acquire/Collect/Gather/Secure.

19 thoughts on “Maybe You Collect

  1. Well, the statement has become a popular social slur to people who think they have talent and don’t! Too bad the critics (whiners) as you call them won out on this. This song would be quite popular today if it got brought back. 🙂

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  2. Fun song, Jim. I never once ever thought I could just ‘quit’ my job. Ha! Even if I did, listening to this song would not impact me enough I would not want to hear it. The instrumentation is enough!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good one, Jim. Just like everything else, there are two camps. One camp is how can I find/keep a job and other how can I avoid working but still get paid. Half the crowd probably loved it and the other hated it. I’m sorry they let public opinion influence their playlist.

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    1. Yes it was idiotic, but the only one that was pissed off about it was Robert Hunter, because he wrote the lyrics and he knew it was not about telling people that they had to work, as he wrote it as advice that people should keep their options open.

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  4. I’ll soon learn the GD catalog or a lot of it…thanks Jim.

    Sunday comes, forget about work
    Ring that bell for whatever it’s worth
    If you ask me like I know you won’t
    I’ll tel you what to do, what I know that you won’t

    Great verse.

    Liked by 1 person

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