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Tell Off Your Boss: Songs For Quitting Time

In a fragile economic climate, many people are hanging on to their jobs for dear life — bringing sleeping bags to the office, working overtime, reminding their bosses of their value and contributions. At a time when jobs are anything but disposable, it's hard to imagine what it would take to drive workers out the door voluntarily.

Still, we've all had jobs that have pushed us to the brink, if not beyond it. For some, it's years of cubicles and monkey suits and unbearable workloads, while others have lost their marbles and wound up getting walked to their car. Whatever happens, we're guessing it's going to be epic and terrible, which means you're going to need consolation and encouragement in the form of five great rock tunes.

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The Pernice Brothers

Losing sleep? Started biting your nails again? Feeling riddled with inexplicable anxiety when you walk into work in the morning? If you're still not sure what's happening, introduce yourself to Joe Pernice, who will tell you exactly what's going on: You're turning a corner and realizing that you're disappearing inside the clothes you wear each day -- clothes that belong to some working stiff you don't recognize. You're starting to understand that your stress is the result of a stifled, subconscious rejection of your own day-to-day routine. Don't worry; it's totally normal. In some ways, it's part of growing up. All of this interior progress is going to prepare you to say things out loud, such as, "No, I don't think I'll be taking that extra shift this weekend. You can't bully me into it." There -- doesn't that feel good?

The Animals

In the world of workplace angst, there are one-man wrecking balls and then there are real revolts. Perhaps in a bizarre moment of Office Space-like frustration, you realize that your entire team is on the verge of dragging the printer into the field and getting all Geto Boys on it. As you realize you've made a transition from lone disgruntled cube-dweller to the league of festering malcontents, a certain newfound strength takes hold. Realizing that you're not alone in your troubles gives you a feeling of relief and power, and what better way to vocalize your office revolution than by rocking out to a song popularized by crestfallen soldiers during the Vietnam War? Gather your troops and march into your boss' office in unison. Go on, storm the castle and yell it out -- even if it's the last thing you ever do!

Alex Chilton

It's not all boots made for walking and triumphant group epiphanies, though. If you're alone in your dissatisfaction, feeling alienated and on the verge of losing your marbles, you're experiencing the workingman's blues. For that, you need a dose of courage and a bluesy, harmonica-inflected rock song about what happens the day after you leave. Say you finally get up the nerve to tell the boss how you feel, and you really let him have it. Your pent-up rage pours out so vehemently, you wind up with walking papers. Pack your desk; we'll walk you to the car. Heart racing, palms sweating, you collapse in the driver's seat and replay the last 15 minutes in your head in a state of confusion and despair. What you need is a bit of Alex Chilton reminding you that there's a bright side: You'll get to sleep in tomorrow.

The Flaming Lips

Maybe you're miserable where you work: underappreciated and stepped on, mistreated and stuck. Lots of people trudge through this waking life with coffee stains on their shirts, just like you: downtrodden and lost. All of those people can't go marching in to give their boss a piece of their mind, though. Some are too scared, while some can't handle the thought of looking for another paying gig. What do you do when it's all pent up and there's no outlet? If you take Wayne Coyne's advice, you simply make your sleeping life the place where all your desires can be fulfilled; you sleep in when you can and have it your way in your dreams. One last suggestion: In your slumber, show no mercy.

Dead Kennedys

All this talk about telling people off probably has you wondering exactly what it is you should say when you get the nerve. Johnny Paycheck, David Allen Coe and, yes, Jello Biafra all have good input, but it's worth noting that the chorus follows the words, "If I had the nerve to say..." If Biafra has a hard time getting up the nerve, you've got no reason to feel guilty about your fears. When you do finally open the door, there's virtually no better way to deliver your message than with the chorus to this tune. Not only is it an American classic known by everyone as a quitter's anthem, it's the most succinct expression of the situation possible. Walk in, tell them to shove it, walk out. Bonus points if you sing it in a Biafra-esque voice.
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