Working for the Man (Roy Orbison song)

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"Working for the Man"
Single by Roy Orbison
ReleasedSeptember 1962
Format7" vinyl
Recorded14 August 1962
GenreRock and roll
LabelMonument Records, London Records
Songwriter(s)Roy Orbison

"Working for the Man" is a song composed and sung by rock and roll performer Roy Orbison. Released in 1962 as a double A-side with "Leah", it reached number 1 in Australia and the top 50 in the USA, Canada and England.[1]


"Working for the Man" and "Leah" were both recorded on August 14, 1962.[2] It was the first release after the dissolution of Orbison's writing partnership with Joe Melson.[3] In many releases it was subtitled, "with Bob Moore's Orchestra and Chorus".

"Working for the Man" was inspired by Orbison's time after school. He said, "I was working for El Paso Natural Gas in the daytime, cutting up steel and loading it onto trucks and chopping weeds and painting water towers. Our straw boss was Mr. Rose, and he wouldn’t cut me any slack."[3] Elsewhere he added, "I worked in the blazing heat, hard, hard labor, and then I’d play at night, come home and some nights be too tired to eat or even to undress. I’d lay down, and I wouldn’t even turn over. I’d wake up in the same spot and hit the oil patch again."[4] He added, "Most of the songs I've written are based on experiences I recall. It may be some years after a thing has happened to me that I'll think about it and then write a song."[5]


At the time of release, Billboard noted "Working for the Man" was a "fine song" and "a smartly styled work song that reached a powerful climax".[2] The BBC noted, " Orbison could be playful. The yodelling, gleeful "Working for the Man" is a double-edged paean to hard-nosed capitalism."[6]

Mental as Anything[edit]

Australian band Mental as Anything released the song as a non-album single in 1983. It peaked at number 20 in Australia and 49 in New Zealand.[7] It was subsequently added to the North American version of Creatures of Leisure.


  1. ^ David Kent (2005). "Australian Chart Book 1940-1969". ISBN 9780646444390.
  2. ^ a b Alex Orbison, Roy Orbison, Wesley Orbison (2017). The Authorized Roy Orbison: The Authorized Biography. Center Street. ISBN 978-1478976547.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Colin Escott (2002). Roadkill on the Three-chord Highway: Art and Trash in American Popular Music. pp. 32. ISBN 978-0415937832.
  4. ^ Steve Pond. "Roy Orbison's Triumphs and Tragedies". Rolling Stone.
  5. ^ June Harris. "Roy Orbison: Hits Are Great — But I Miss Those (MODEL) Planes". Rock's Backpages.(Subscription required.)
  6. ^ Jaime Gill. "Roy Orbison The Monument Singles Collection". BBC.
  7. ^ David Kent (March 1993). "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992". p. 198. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.