Get a Job (song)

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For the Gossip song, see A Joyful Noise (Gossip album).
"Get a Job"
Single by The Silhouettes
A-side "I Am Lonely"
Released November 1957 (1957-11)
Format 45 rpm, 78 rpm
Recorded October 1957. Robinson Recording Laboratories, Philadelphia.
Genre Doo-wop, rhythm and blues, pop
Length 2:25
Label Junior
Writer(s) Silhouettes (Earl Beal, Raymond Edwards, Richard Lewis, William Horton)

"Get a Job" is one of the best known doo-wop songs of the 1950s. Recorded by The Silhouettes in October 1957, the song reached the number one spot on the Billboard pop and R&B singles charts in February 1958.[1]

"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.[2] 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.

The song was recorded at Robinson Recording Laboratories in Philadelphia in October 1957. Rollie McGill played the saxophone break, and the arranger was Howard Biggs. Intended as the B-side to "I Am Lonely",[3] "Get a Job" was initially released on Kae Williams' Junior label; Williams, who was also a Philadelphia disc-jockey, was the Silhouettes' manager.[4][5] 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.[6][a] Ultimately the single sold more than a million copies.

The song was later featured in the soundtracks of the movies American Graffiti, Stand By Me, the end credits for Trading Places and Joey (in which the group also performed it). It was also briefly sung by soldiers in the film Good Morning, Vietnam. The revival group Sha Na Na derived their name from the song's doo-wop introduction.[3] "Get a Job" inspired a number of answer songs, including "Got a Job", the debut recording by The Miracles.[8] 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".

The song was also featured in the 1985 National Film Board of Canada short film also called Get a Job.

The song was covered by Jan Berry of Jan & Dean on his 1997 solo album Second Wave. Other covers include one by the Hampton String Quartet (on the album, What if Mozart Wrote "Roll Over Beethoven"?), and a 2012 rendition by Neil Young & Crazy Horse on their album Americana.


  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.[7]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 525. 
  2. ^ "Get a Job – The Silhouettes". The Silhouettes. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. p. 2817. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8. 
  4. ^ Rosalsky, Mitch (2002). Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups. Scarecrow Press. p. 518. ISBN 978-0-8108-4592-3. 
  5. ^ "Kae Williams". The Silhouettes. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Silhouettes and Dick Clark". The Silhouettes. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Scheurer, Timothy E. (1989). American Popular Music: The age of rock. Popular Press. pp. 81–82. ISBN 978-0-87972-468-9. 
  8. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 25 – The Soul Reformation: Phase two, the Motown story. [Part 4]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. 

Preceded by
"At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
"Get a Job" by The Silhouettes

February 24, 1958 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Don't" by Elvis Presley
Preceded by
"At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors
Billboard R&B Best Sellers in Stores number-one single
February 3, 1958 - March 3, 1958 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry