Certain Songs #1125: The Members – “Working Girl”

Album: Uprhythm, Downbeat
Year: 1982

I’m pretty sure I remember reading about The Members debut album At The Chelsea Nightclub in Trouser Press or CREEM back when it came out in 1979, but of course funds were scare and I wasn’t sure I needed much more punk/reggae hybrids outside of The Clash or even The Police, so to this day, I’ve never heard it.

So fast-forward to the end of 1982, and KFSR has just gone on the air, and with it, this crazy infectious hit, which combines subtle, reggaeish verses with a full-throated chorus.

And in fact, when I first heard “Working Girl,” I thought it was some kind of proto-feminist anthem about a guy who was so woke (as we used say in 1982) that he didn’t want his girl to stay home and clean the house and have dinner on the table when he got home from work, but rather a true partner contributing to the financial success of their household.

Heh. Not so much. As the video — which helped propel it into the actual Top 40 — made totally explicit, it was about a scumbag layabout musician who was mooching off of his girlfriend so he didn’t have to get a real job his own self. Basically the missing link between Andy Capp and Axl Rose.

And she could go out to work
And I’d lie around the house in the dirt
And she could go out to work
Bring her money home for me

This is, on the face if it, absolutely reprehensible and completely problematic. The exact opposite of woke!

And yet, every time they hit that chorus, all was forgiven, especially at the end, when they tripled down on the “I’m in love” part”

Heyyyyyyyyyyyy
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
With the working girl
Heyyyyyyyyyyyy
I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love
With the working girl

With the reggae in the rear view mirror, the drums doing double-time and the football stadium vocals cranked to anthem, the final minute or so of “Working Girl” is as fun as early 1980s Britpop ever got.

Official video for “Working Girl”

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