Get a Job (song)

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"Get a Job"
Single by The Silhouettes
A-side"I Am Lonely"
ReleasedNovember 1957 (1957-11)
Format45 rpm, 78 rpm
RecordedOctober 1957. Robinson Recording Laboratories, Philadelphia
GenreDoo-wop, rhythm and blues
  • Earl Beal
  • Raymond Edwards
  • Richard Lewis
  • William Horton

"Get a Job" is a song by the Silhouettes released in November 1957. It reached the number one spot on the Billboard pop and R&B singles charts in February 1958.[1] The song was later included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).[2]


"When I was in the service in the early 1950s and didn't come home and go to work, my mother said 'get a job' and basically that's where the song came from," said tenor Richard Lewis, who wrote the lyrics.[3] The four members of the group shared the credit, jointly creating the "sha na na" and "dip dip dip dip" hooks later imitated by other doo-wop groups.[citation needed]

The song was recorded at Robinson Recording Laboratories in Philadelphia in October 1957. Rollee McGill played the saxophone break, and the arranger was Howard Biggs. Intended as the B-side to "I Am Lonely",[4] "Get a Job" was initially released on Kae Williams' Junior label; Williams, who was also a Philadelphia disc-jockey, was the Silhouettes' manager.[5][6] Doug Moody, an executive at Ember Records, acquired the rights to the song for that label where it was licensed for national distribution.

In early 1958, the Silhouettes performed "Get a Job" several times on American Bandstand and once on The Dick Clark Show, appearances that contributed to the song's success by exposing it to a large audience.[7][a] Ultimately the single sold more than a million copies.[9]


The song was later featured in the soundtracks of the movies American Graffiti (1973), Stand By Me (1986), Trading Places (1983), Get a Job (1985), Joey (1986), and Good Morning, Vietnam (1987).[citation needed] In the 1980s, the UK recruitment agency, Brook Street Bureau, used the song in their two TV commercials, replacing the words "get a job" with "better job".[citation needed]

The revival group Sha Na Na derived their name from the song's doo-wop introduction.[4] They performed the song at Woodstock in 1969. "Get a Job" inspired a number of answer songs, including "Got a Job", the debut recording by The Miracles.[10] Dennis Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys, believed that the group's song "She's Goin' Bald" (1967) paid reference to "Get a Job".[11]

The famous line "yep yep yep yep yep um um um um get a job" was used in one of the episode of Married... with Children when Al Bundy tried to explain his son Bud what he should do to earn money.

Cover versions[edit]

Australian band Ol' 55 covered the song on their album, Take It Greasy (1976). The song was covered by Jan Berry of Jan & Dean on his 1997 solo album Second Wave. Other covers include those by the Hampton String Quartet (What if Mozart Wrote "Roll Over Beethoven"?), Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Americana, 2012).[citation needed] and The Delltones. James Taylor covered it on his Other Covers album.The Mills Brothers (Dot Records 45-15695) 1958.


  1. ^ Bandstand was a Philadelphia show, broadcast nationally by ABC. Bandstand producer Tony Mammarella bought a share of the rights to "Get a Job" from Kae Williams, an example of the "pay for play" practices for which Clark, Mammarella and others were later rebuked during the Payola scandal.[8]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 525.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "A Basic Record Library: The Fifties and Sixties". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved March 16, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Get a Job – The Silhouettes". The Silhouettes. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. p. 2817. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  5. ^ Rosalsky, Mitch (2002). Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups. Scarecrow Press. p. 518. ISBN 978-0-8108-4592-3.
  6. ^ "Kae Williams". The Silhouettes. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  7. ^ "The Silhouettes and Dick Clark". The Silhouettes. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  8. ^ Scheurer, Timothy E. (1989). American Popular Music: The age of rock. Popular Press. pp. 81–82. ISBN 978-0-87972-468-9.
  9. ^ Jasen, David A. (2013-10-15). A Century of American Popular Music. Routledge. ISBN 9781135352714.
  10. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 25 – The Soul Reformation: Phase two, the Motown story. [Part 4]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  11. ^ Felton, David (1976). "The Healing of Brother Brian". Rolling Stone.