Big Mac Blues

Notes on the song

This track portrays the tough working experience of a McDonald's employee. While McDonald's is not the only company who has operated as part of the "Gig Economy", and although the problem isn't just one company, but the system of which it is part; with over a million workers worldwide ("From Japan to Amsterdam, In London, Munich and Milan...") McDonald's is an extremely important and relevant one. Indeed, the term "McJobs" ("An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector") comes directly from the name of the fast-food restaurant McDonald's, but is used to describe any low-status job - regardless of the employer - where little training is required, staff turnover is high, and workers' activities are tightly regulated by managers.

With low wages, zero hour contracts and lack of union recognition, it is no wonder that there have recently been protests and global strikes ("McStrike") by McDonald's workers and others to ensure fast food workers have the right to a fair wage and decent working conditions. These have included "The Fight for 15" in the US and "Fast Food Rights" in the UK.

It has been difficult to rejoice about falling unemployment figures in some countries, when so many of the new jobs are with zero hour contracts. As one employee said of his zero-hours contract: "I have no choice but to do exactly as I'm told and never question it, otherwise I might lose the hours and then I'd be out on the streets."

Although the lyrics "As I smile and pass the tray" might sound ironic, when McDonald's started up in Russia, they actually instructed their employees to "smile" (however they might feel).

While I wrote this song several years ago, and have only just managed to record it, much of its content is unfortunately still relevant today. Hopefully the united and collective action of organisations like "Fast Food Rights", "The Fight for 15", the "McStrike" and other actions will have an impact and lead to better pay and conditions and union rights for all workers. But governments can also play their part. Recently the New Zealand Government banned zero hours contacts, demonstrating that one piece of legislation can quickly end what many companies continue to ruthlessly and unfairly apply.

Join the Red Eye mailing list and you'll be able to download a free mp3 version of every song, as well as receiving occasional Red Eye email updates.


1st Verse:

I've gotta little problem,
The landlord's on his way,
I've gotta pay the rent but,
McDonalds they don't pay,
Not for me the rat race,
That normal nine to five,
I work every hour Ron sends me.

1st Chorus:

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues.

1st Bridge:

I don't wanna work no more,
I can't take cleaning up this floor,
As I smile and pass the tray,
I know that Ronald's won again.

2nd Verse:

I tried to start a union,
But the bosses they said no,
For trying to start a union,
I clear cartons from the road,
The man with the 5 stars is always on my back,
But you bite your lip and take it.

2nd Chorus:

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues.

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues

2nd Bridge:

From Japan to Amsterdam,
In London, Munich and Milan,
As there's another million sold,
Exploiting workers 'round the globe.

Mid 8:

I know that,
There'll be a day
When I will have my way,
When I will start fighting back,
When I will stop taking crap,

Gonna get a fair wage,
We're gonna break their grip,
Just gotta stick together,
Who am I kidding.

3rd Chorus:

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues

3rd Verse:

They're pumping you cholesterol
They're feeding you with grease
You think you own your body,
But it's only on a lease,
Someday you'll get a message,
An attack right from the heart,
This message it will kill you.

4th Chorus:

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues.

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues.

3rd Bridge:

For every burger coke and fries,
Another fatted calf must die,
Somewhere an animal must bleed,
Just so that you can have your feed,

Final Chorus:

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues

Big Mac,
Big Mac Blues