Pieces Of Eight
1978 | Rock
Spotify | Amazon
“Keepin' my mind on a better life, where happiness is only a heartbeat away. -- Paradise can it be all I heard it was, I close my eyes and maybe I'm already there.”
- The song hit #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
- This song was the first single off the Pieces Of Eight album.
- All three of the charting songs on the record were written by Tommy Shaw, this one as well as Renegade (featured Earlier in FS365) and Sing For The Day.
THE HOT TAKES
I got into Styx thanks to the same friend who introduced me to Tool, and I adore both bands to this day. Blue Collar Man is a song that's easy to misconstrue, as Nick correctly points out. At first pass, it seems to support solidarity with the labor movement. But study closely and you find quite the opposite is true. "I'm just a poor soul in the unemployment line; My God, I'm hardly alive; My mother and father, my wife and my friends; I see them laugh in my face; But I've got the power, and I've got the will; I'm not a charity case." Does that sound like the man who is about to give away his right to negotiate wages to a union? No, of course not. I won't give a full treatment of labor unions here, but it's fine to organize with other workers to get higher wages. What is not fine is using violence and/or the state to force employers to do what you want, or to prevent other works from taking the work for non-union wages. If someone else is willing to do your job for far less pay than you are, doesn't that undermine the whole thing?
I love Styx, and this is one of their classic tunes. This song tells the story of a man who is unemployed and pleading for a job. His self worth and his usefulness to his family are damaged due to being unemployed. Getting a job will improve every relationship in his life including the most important one: himself. This isn't uncommon. Most people have their self image tied up with their professions to some degree. A business owner offers a person not only employment, but a means to higher self-esteem. I find it so naive and laughable when people poo poo business owners as if they are only out to exploit their workers for greed, as if the employee gets no benefits from employment. The fact of the matter is we all have to look ourselves in the mirror and know that we can provide for ourselves and our families. Good societies have lots of opportunities for work, which helps to have a happier communities with less crime. This social network is a very big part the quality of life that people can have. This man, like so many others, is willing to take the "long nights" over unemployment. If work was so terrible, people wouldn't be competing so strenuously for jobs.
I’ll be honest, when I first saw someone added this song to the list I was taken aback. I’ve never apparently paid too much attention to the lyrics, I always thought it was some commie shit trying to glorify and mobilize the working man against the big ol’ mean bossy men. I was pleasantly surprised to dig into the lyrics and find out that quite the contrary, the song is a discussion of human ambition and the ability to improve your lot in life through hard work. The titular character makes it a point to lay out he’s not after charity just a way to utilize what he has to make his life better. The decisions he makes are wholly voluntary. There’s rumblings from some people trying to make rent is theft a libertarian ideal and it’s literally always struck me as odd. I’ve never understood not being grateful and respectful of property that people had loaned to me. Call me old fashioned but without real, strong property rights we have nothin.