Slave To The Wage

Album: Black Market Music (2000)
Charted: 19
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the ennui of a typical job in the modern world, and how we should take care not to work ourselves to death. Placebo frontman Brian Molko told Alternative Press in 2001: "The song tells you to be an individual, believe in yourself and have the courage to chase your dreams. If you do, the rewards at the end are tenfold versus doing what your parents tell you to do. Get a good job, get married, have 2.4 children, 1.2 goldfish, 3.6 cars... To a lot of people, that's the epitome of personal success. Which is why so many people get through a mid-life crisis. People reach a point in their lives and go, 'Is this it?'"
  • The line, "Sick and tired of Maggie's farm" is a reference to Bob Dylan's song "Maggie's Farm," which has a similar theme. >>
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  • This samples the intro of Pavement's "Texas Never Whispers" from their 1992 Watery, Domestic EP. In a 2017 Vice interview, Molko shared why he chose the sample: "I was just a huge fan. It comes from the B-sides album and I just really liked this abstract guitar that was going on. It's much slower in its original state. We just looped it and sped it up really fast, at least ten times faster than the original. Again, it was sampling, which was something we had never done before. At the time, it was a great motivator for us. We didn't want to do what we'd done on the last record."
  • The music video, helmed by Placebo's frequent director Howard Greenhalgh, was shot at the University of East London and follows office drones completing their monotonous daily tasks. The clip was inspired by Molko's own mind-numbing paper-shredding gig, as well as the 1997 sci-fi movie Gattaca. He explained: "The content was inspired by the only summer job I ever had, which was working in a bank, shredding documents. We try used that as a metaphor for the drudgery of having a nine-to-five in the modern world. And the second, aesthetically it was by a film Gattaca starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. It was the film where they met and first fell in love."
  • This is the second single from Placebo's third studio album, Black Market Music. Despite its success (peaking at #6 UK where it earned a Gold certification for 100,000 copies sold), Molko regards it as his least favorite Placebo album because of its "blanket sound." He told Vice: "I think it's a real somber record, so it doesn't really conjure up euphoria, which I suppose is what I look for in music. It was recorded during the height of our party phase, and once we had recorded all of our instruments, we had turned the studio into a place to have guests. So we spent a lot of time entertaining people while our producer spent a lot of time working on the album alone. I think if we'd been a little more involved, then perhaps there would be a little more light and color. It's quite a monochrome album for me. It's a very deep wood color, with stripes of gunmetal grey when I picture it."

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