Do you listen to music when you work?
MK: I don't usually listen to music at work, no. The book focusses on manual labour, and I do very little manual labour. There is some research on how people use music when doing intellectual labour: and it seems that people use it as a symbol to say 'keep away from me'.
Obviously one of your main arguments is that music's function isn't tied to textual meaning. But are there any examples of particular pieces of music, or particular instances of music being used that illustrate the arguments you've been making?
MK: I worked at a blinds factory for a while as part of the study, and I asked people if there were any pieces of music that were meaningful for their life at work. I wasn't sure if this was going to be useful, but I thought 'let's give it a try' – and I'll give two contrasting answers for how listening to music had meaning for workers in this factory. Then I'll offer some older songs that I love.
In the blinds factory, the number one nomination by a mile was 'We've Gotta Get Out of This Place' by The Animals.
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