Music As Labor

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I hear music
as labor now—

which struck me
when I was standing in line
at Whole Foods

the air conditioning
wasn’t working
and staff were complaining
while stocking shelves

it’s hot up here

and I noticed the blues playing
on the sound system
the guitar solo that couldn’t end
the drums slap-shuffling
the baseline dutifully moving
up and down and up and down

their music sounded like work
it was relentless
it followed a set of rules
it sounded like stocking shelves
with quarter notes and triplets
backbeats and accents
leads and accompaniments

their sound was for sale
bar-coded and scannable at checkout
in fact it had already been bought
now a soundtrack for my waiting.

2 thoughts on “Music As Labor

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