Labor Day 2022 arrives in an employment landscape much different from that of, say, 1974, when I took the job that led to this song. In those days, between an economy much sicklier than today’s and the cultural resentments still lingering after the eruption of the ’60s youth movement, the very notion of a socially acceptable Big Quit would have been radioactive to all but the most privileged or bohemian. But the same “f— this” impulse that today’s America was somehow able to accommodate has seethed in the hearts of many, including me, probably since the dawn of humanity.

The job that spawned “You Know How It Is” was a position as a “materials handler” (aka stockboy; I was 20) at the South Portland, Maine, branch of the Jordan Marsh department stores. (That building is now a Macy’s.) I loaded and unloaded trucks, brought merchandise and supplies to the selling floor, ogled my female colleagues, and took on miscellaneous tasks like unlocking a customer’s car with a coat hanger and driving an incontinent man home (no cars were soiled in the making of this anecdote.) By and large I hated the place and the work (I think I’d enjoy it now) but I did meet one of my best friends, who is also a longtime musical partner, at Jordan Marsh — that being Ken Reynolds.

Well, Jordan Marsh is gone, and I am still here. But the JM job did give me, a sensitive young artiste sacrificing my soul and precious youth for corporate profit, this song. When I finally busted loose, in 1979, it was to set foot on the path to my “real career,” which proved gratifying and disillusioning in ways I could never have imagined five years earlier. But it never provided much material for credible country lyrics. So I’m glad to have this old number to fall back on — even the title makes a virtue out of banality.

Recorded in the Basement in summer 2020. Hear it below, buy it on Bandcamp! (“You Know How It Is” copyright © 2010 by Douglas L. Hubley. All rights reserved. Learn more about the life and music of Doug Hubley at Notes From A Basement.)



You Know How It Is


The stockboy relaxes, 1974. (Hubley Family photo)

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