Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?

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"Just Who is the 5 O'Clock Hero?"
Single by The Jam
from the album The Gift
B-side War, The Great Depression
Released 3 July 1982
Recorded 1979
Length 2.15
Label Polydor
Writer(s) Paul Weller
The Jam singles chronology
"Town Called Malice"
(1982)
"Just Who is the 5 O'Clock Hero?"
(1982)
"The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)"
(1982)

"Just Who is the 5 O'Clock Hero?" is a song and single released by The Jam on 3 July 1982. It features on their sixth studio album The Gift. Contrary to popular misconception, it was not released as a single in Britain but was a Dutch import. Despite this it still made number eight in the UK singles chart on 11 June 1982; The Jam performed a similar feat the previous year with "That's Entertainment". The single came with two B-sides – a version of "War" and an original Weller song, "The Great Depression".

The Song[edit]

The song addresses those in 9 to 5 jobs as a nameless factory worker returns home to his wife wanting nothing but to sit and watch television before he has to go back to the 'lunch box and the worker/management rows'. The chorus focuses on the character having lived in the same street for years and highlights the futility of his life: 'as one life finishes the other one starts'- there has to be more to life than 'scrimping and saving and crossing off lists'. According to interviews with Weller (and the booklet accompanying the Direction Reaction Creation box-set) the point was not to point fun at or criticise the character (such as Mr. Clean on All Mod Cons) but rather to highlight them as 'real heroes of Britain'. The song was conceived at the height of The Jam's fame when Weller was very uncomfortable with being a 'hero' himself.

Live Performance[edit]

The Jam regularly played the song live on their 'Trans-Global Unity Express' world tour between March and June 1982, where it always segued into a brief cover of Sam Cooke's 1960 single 'Chain Gang'. In late 2012, Paul Weller again began performing the song live (at a much slower pace and without the 'Chain Gang' medley).

Sources[edit]

  • Direction Reaction Creation box-set released 26 May 1997 by Polydor Records