Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ten from Fountains of Wayne: "Hey Julie"


"Hey Julie" / Fountains of Wayne

What?  The only Fountains of Wayne song you know is their one pop hit, "Stacy's Mom"?  Now that's a shame.  Permit me to widen your horizons, with not one but ten FOW tracks that prove their genius...   
From Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)

Considering how many music listeners hold, or will someday hold, an office job, you'd think there would be more songs about the nine-to-five cubicle grind. (Notable exceptions: the Beatles' "Hard Days' Night" and the Kinks' "Nine to Five.") Fist-bumps to Fountains of Wayne for crafting this perky cha-cha-cha earworm around this underserved topic.

That opening verse sets the gruesome scene: "Working all day for a mean little man / With a clip-on tie and a rub-on tan / He's got me running round the office like a dog around a track / When I get back home you're always there to rub my back." The lyrics clip along at a relentless pace, a two-chord seesaw stuck in a melodic rut. In verse two, it's like a scene out of the movie Office Space. "Hours on the phone making pointless calls / I got a desk full of paper that means nothing at all." And in verse three -- he really hates that boss -- another skewering vignette: "Working all day for a mean little guy / With a bad toupee and a soup-stained tie / He's got me running around the office like a gerbil in a wheel / He can tell me what to do but he can't tell me how to feel." Those deft details completely nail this horrible boss.

I always assumed that Julie's the loyal girlfriend who greets him when he gets home and helps him shake off the stresses of the day. (Does she open the door with a martini ready? Dressed in inviting lingerie?)  But when I saw this video, I realized that it was entirely possible that Julie is in fact his dog. (And a very cute dog, I must say.) Man's best friend, lying on the rug (though really on the off-limits couch), waiting for him to open the door, or to open the next can of dog food. But hey, that's love too, and I can with all honesty that my dog DOES make it all better when I get home.

I have to giggle when I listen to this song, but behind the giggle lies the pathos of an unsung life. Maybe there aren't more pop songs about photocopying and bookkeeping because most rock stars wouldn't be caught dead doing those things. All the more reason why we need Fountains of Wayne to come along and sing our songs, too.

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