As I have taken to doing for Thanksgiving Day – and did so again yesterday – I have also posted several times for Black Friday. They go together as companion pieces, I think. Last year I posted a fairly typical piece, again borrowing from previous years and, as yesterday, I thought I’d do something a little different this year. There was one song in last year’s piece, which I think is worth sharing again:
As I said last year, I don’t think Rusty Cage is likely to make it as a world class singer, but he has rather nailed today, I think!
Despite its adoption as the name for today’s shopping bonanza, I first came across the phrase – as I suspect many others did – as the opening track on Steely Dan’s album Katy Lied:
As you will have seen from that helpful lyric video, the song is nothing to do with shopping. The excellent Songfacts site says this about it:
“Long before the term came to denote the shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving, Steely Dan released this song about the original “Black Friday,” when on Friday, September 24, 1869 a failed ploy left many wealthy investors broke. The investors tried to corner the market on gold, buying as much of it as they could and driving up the price, but when the government found out, it released $4 million worth of gold into the market, driving down the price and clobbering the investors.”
And for good measure they also clear up the Australian reference:
“While the song is about events in the US, it mentions a town in Australia: “Fly down to Muswellbrook.” Muswellbrook is a rural town two hours North of Sydney that is full of kangaroos (thus the line, “Nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos”). It’s possible that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen selected the name of Muswellbrook from an atlas, mainly because it worked well with the next line, “I’m going to strike out all the big red words from my little black book.” They also wanted a place far away from Los Angeles.”
So now you know!
Nowadays we all know the name as being synonymous with sales and the search for bargains, and it seems to begin earlier every year: I’ve been receiving emails announcing Black Friday sales since the start of this month, although they have intruded a little on the annual Christmas promotion (which begins in September, of course). But at least it will all be over by the official start of the Easter shopping season on 26 December, and the return of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and their poor spelling. There are songs about the dangers of bargain hunting, and today is as good a day as any for them. Here’s one you may know:
I leave it to you to decide what ‘bargains’ Dolly may have been offering, but as the song was banned in some of the more prudish places it isn’t difficult to work out! It’s a pity that her bargains were all used, though finding anything amongst all that hair would have been fun…
Some bargains come with unforeseen costs, however, so beware:
Sadly, Charlie Daniels passed away in July, but that is a great song for which to to be remembered. His fiddle playing is incredible, though I don’t think he’d done a deal…
I’m going to leave you with another cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming addicted to shopping:
As lockdown restrictions are making instore shopping much harder this year I guess many of us will be taking to the interweb to seek out our bargains. I just hope you don’t do it like Weird Al! Watching that puts me in mind of those antique shows that are often on tv, when people spend silly money on rusty old rubbish – and then someone else pays even sillier money for it at auction. If I were looking for used bargains I know which of these videos I’d want to follow up – I’m pretty sure the return on my investment would be better.
In case you think Black Friday is inescapable there are some places where there aren’t any bargains to be had, as not everyone takes part…
I hope you have fun hunting your bargains, and don’t then find that you could have bought the same thing for less when the ‘sales’ are over – check the small print as it can happen! I’ve already made the one purchase I was planning to make, so I should be safe from the advertisers’ blandishments. As long as I don’t open my emails, that is…